In-Season Bike Program

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While research has shown that running, especially high intensity intervals (HIIT) and shuttles runs with frequent changes of direction are more effective for improving conditioning and performance in game situations for most baseball players, sometimes running is not the best option. Although running is the preferred training method when a player is healthy, it is usually contraindicated for those with a lower body injury or a history of lower body joint pain. Likewise, while the typical starting pitcher has four days of recovery between starts, most strength and conditioning and pitching coaches would not recommend jmalonethat he engage in four consecutive days of HIIT between starts, nor would most pitchers be able to withstand this type of training throughout a 162-game Major League or 142-game Minor League schedule.
While there are a number of excellent alternatives to running, such as elliptical machines, step machines, arc trainers, rowing machines and bicycle ergometers, the bicycle ergometer is often the best option when you need to improve and/or maintain conditioning with minimal risk of back, shoulder and lower body joint stress.

The purpose of this posting is to provide a series of bicycle ergometer programs that will enable a pitcher and/or an injured player to improve or maintain work capacity with minimal joint stress. A healthy player or pitcher, for example, might select a particular bike program as an alternative to the pounding associated with running, while an injured player or one with a history of lower body joint pain might use a variety of programs to maintain fitness and avoid boredom.

In the three bike programs presented below, workloads are based on a Borg Scale of 1-20 with 10 being relatively easy (50% of HR max), 13 moderate (60% of HR max) and 16 hard (80% of HR max). Work level and RPM values are based on Borg Scale responses observed among professional baseball players working on a Life Fitness LF95C1 upright bicycle ergometer. Because there is the possibility of slight differences in calibration from manufacturer to manufacturer, model to model by the same manufacturer and bike to bike of the same model, players should experiment on the equipment that is available to them to ensure that they are using appropriate workload values.

Bicycle Ergometer Programs

Easy Program

Moderate Program

Hard Program

Level RPM Min Level RPM Min Level RPM Min
8 75 2 8 75 3 8 75 3
9 100 1 9 100 1 12 100 1
8 75 1 8 75 1 8 75 1
10 100 1 10 100 1 13 100 1
8 75 1 8 75 1 8 75 1
11 100 1 11 100 1 14 100 1
8 75 2 8 75 2 8 75 3
10 100 1 10 100 1 13 100 1
8 75 1 8 75 1 8 75 1
11 100 1 11 100 1 14 100 1
8 75 1 8 75 1 8 75 1
12 100 1 12 100 1 15 100 1
8 75 2 8 75 2 8 75 3
11 100 1 11 100 1 14 100 1
8 75 1 8 75 1 8 75 1
12 100 1 12 100 1 15 100 1
8 75 1 8 75 1 8 75 1
13 100 1 13 100 1 16 100 1
8 75 2 8 75 3 8 75 3
Total   23     25     27

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Jim Malone, RSCC*D, USA Weightlifting Club Coach is Athletic Development Coordinator at St. Louis Cardinals.

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