By John Furia
How can I speed up my bat? I want to improve my power! For baseball players bat speed is a necessity! How do you acquire it if it does not come so naturally? The key is strength development in the lower body and trunk (core).
One of the key muscles in improving bat speed is a low back muscle called the Quadratus Lumborum. This muscle is critical in laterally flexing and rotating the spine and aids the obliques in further rotating the spine. The key word here is rotation! Once improved strength is gained in this area trunk rotation will improve drastically which then in turn develops greater bat speed.
It has most often been thought that superior bat speed is developed solely through efficient swing mechanics. I have found the trunk rotational strength component to be even more effective even with a poorly executed swing. So imagine the combination of mechanically sound swing mechanics in conjunction with superior targeted strength in the Quadratus Lumborum and surrounding trunk muscles. So how do you strengthen the Qadtratus Lumborum? One of the most effective strength exercises to improve Quadratus strength and function is the "Seated Good Morning" exercise.
Place a barbell in a squat rack. Deload the bar from a standing position. Have a bench with a height of about 24"-36" behind you depending on your height. With the bar sitting across the upper trapezius (not the top of the neck) sit on the very edge of the bench with your feet wide apart and your toes slightly pointed outward. Your grip on the barbell should be as wide as the bar will allow. From the seated position lower your trunk slowly to the floor. Head up, chest tall and with an arched low back bring your trunk as far as your body will allow forward. Range of motion will vary from individual to individual. Do not force range of motion and allow the motion to come on its own. After several exposures to the exercise range of motion and end range strength will improve enough so that you will end parallel to the floor. Rep range should be in the 6-10 range.
Try this exercise for about four to six weeks in conjunction with your lower body program. Exercises that work well with the seated good morning are barbell squats, front squats and trap bar dead lifts. With these movements you will see noticeable improvements in bat speed which will reap huge payback with gap power.
John Furia is the owner of Furia's Xceleration Strength & Conditioning located in Deer Park, New York. John is a highly sought-after Strength & Conditioning coach for healthy and injured athletes alike, he has helped athletes at all levels - from youth sports to the professional and Olympic Levels - achieve peak performance in a variety of sports.
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