The following sequence of three dynamic, multi-plane warm-up exercises has several important functions when preparing to train and compete. First it will increase muscle temperature. Second, it will actively work the muscles of the hips, shoulders and thoracic spine (T-spine) through a full range of motion. Third, it will increase flexibility in the shoulders, hips and thoracic spine (T-spine) and fourth, it will help you move more efficiently. Incorporate these into your daily warm-up routine, especially before throwing a bullpen or taking early batting practice, and you should see an improvement in flexibility and efficiency of movement in the hips, shoulders and T-spine. Start with 5 reps per side of each exercise with a 6-lb MD ball and gradually build to 10 per side.
1. Basic Warrior. Stand with feet shoulder width apart holding a MD ball in both hands at chest height. Set the abs, contract the glutes and take a step to the side with your right leg. Keeping the core tight, extend both arms straight out from the chest and drop your back (left) knee close to the floor as you swing the MD ball straight up over your head in the sagittal plane with both hands. Hold for 1-2 sec, return to start and repeat going to the left. This is one rep.
2. Warrior with a Twist. Repeat the previous exercise, but swing the MD ball across the chest in the transverse plane to the opposite side of the body. Keep your abs tight, glutes contracted and arms straight throughout the movement. Hold for 1-2 sec, return to start and repeat going to the left. This is one rep.
3. Warrior with a Reach Back. Repeat the previous exercise, but swing the ball up and across the right shoulder in a diagonal plane as if you were bailing water out of a boat. Hold for 1-2 sec, return to start and repeat going to the left. This is one rep.
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 Exercise and Health Sciences Program at the University of Houston – Clear Lake.