Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning

Walking Lunge with Overhead Reach

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In the words Yogi Berra, “you can see a lot by watching”. Over the years, I have learned a lot by talking with and watching opposing strength and conditioning coaches as they put their teams through pre- and post-game warm-ups and workouts. The following is a good, multi-plane, multi-joint, total body, warm-up exercise that is used by Dong Lien (CSCS, RSCC), strength and conditioning coordinator for the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s a dynamic exercise that targets most of the muscles in the upper and lower body, engages the core, challenges balance and engages the muscles used when running. It can be used as an essential part of a pre-practice / pre-game warm-up routine and/or to prepare for running drills.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with both arms extended down the sides. Set the core, squeeze the glutes and then step forward with your left leg into a lunge position until your left thigh is parallel to the ground and your right knee is almost touching the ground. As you descend into the lunge position, extend the left arm straight down and the right arm out and up toward the sky. From this low lunge position with one arm up and the other arm down, slowly rotate your torso and right shoulder up and over your lead (left hip). Both arms should form a straight line. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds. Push back with the lead (left) leg to return to a standing, split-squat position with both arms down the sides. Step forward with the opposite leg and repeat the sequence. Continue alternating legs until you have performed 5-6 reps on each leg.

If you have trouble with balance or lack adequate walking space, perform the exercise in-place repeating the movement sequence 5-6 times on one leg before working the opposite leg. For added range of motion, twist the trunk toward the lead leg as you reach overhead. To increase balance, perform the drill while lunging backwards.
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Gene Coleman was the Head S&C Coach for the Houston Astros from 1978-2012 and is currently a strength and conditioning consultant for the Texas Rangers and Professor in the Fitness and Human Performance Program at the University of Houston – Clear Lake.

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