Safe lifting and off-season program for rising freshman

My son will be 15 in September and is a rising freshman. He is 5-8 and 180 pounds, throws 70-73 for his fastball, low 60’s curve, and 64-66 for his changeup. He has pretty good mechanics and was taught to throw based on NPA methods and recommendations. He never has had an arm issue. Been pitching since he was 10.

He also has not hit puberty yet. He is currently playing with the HS for summer ball and doing pretty well, 10 innings pitched over 3 weekends, 13 KOs, 4 BB, 3 or 4 hits, no ER, 3 runs given up total. He is attending weight training 3 days a week with the team.

He is only one of 2 kids on the HS team who has not hit or gone through puberty yet. He is a pretty strong kid naturally, but needs to gain strength especially at the plate if he is going to get playing time. We want him to get into a weight training program that will help him mature and get stronger but not do any harm. I have seen some posts on here about safe weight training and am not sure of the final recommendations.

Any specific tips/routines that would be recommeded for weekly workouts?

He also plays football and wrestles though baseball is his passion. Will probably not wrestle this year as a freshman to focus on preparing for baseball season.

Really tough to make a generic recommendation, but I’d check out Eric Cressey’s work for starters. Additionally, Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe is a great introduction to basic barbell training and I would highly recommend you read that as well.

Agreed with kyleb that starting strength is a great workout for beginners.

Also i will give you some advice as well.

Your son is 5’8 180lbs. Does he have any signs of visible abs at all. When he flexes them does he see any sign at all? If not then he probaly has more than 18 percent body fat. Like kyle says its very hard to determine i have no idea what your son looks like.

With that being said at 15 i highly doubt your son has alot of muscle , as you said, " he has not hit puberty yet".

With that do you think your son needs to lose weight, before he puts it on?

When you weight train i can tell you right now, if you want to gain muscle, then you will have to eat more food, which will then cause you to lift more, which will then cause you to gain more muscle.

With extra food intake, will lead to more muscle growth, but with muscle growth will lead to fat gains as well.

Also you can’t lose fat, and gain muscle at all, unless you are on steroids. Its impossible.

So ya you have to decide which one to do?

Either gain muscle and fat.

Or loss the fat he already has, then put the muscle on.

Its up to you. Post back. Is your son a husky, chubby kid. Or is he really lean for 180lbs. Please post some more info about your son.


He is neither “fat” nor lean. He was also strong enough to go 28-7 with 19 pins at weight classes of 175, 185, and 200 where most opponents had gone through puberty and many could bench press over 200 pounds. I would venture to say he is as strong, if not stronger, than all of his rising freshman teammates who have gone through puberty.

I am confident that as he matures he will lean out as he continues to grow taller.

I am familiar with weight training in general, what I am not familiar with and asking advise about is what a kid who has not matured should do as it pertains to baseball and pitching. I do not want him performing exercises that may be detrimental to his pitching (perhaps bench press, bicep curls, military presses, etc?)

I assume there are programs tailored to baseball players, and pitchers in general, as opposed to football players and wrestlers. I am familiar with weight training for the latter two, but his passion is baseball and I prefer for his training to be baseball centric.

If there was a book on weight training for pitchers and baseball players that was any good, I’d recommend it to you. But sadly, there isn’t.

I’m in the middle (more like very beginning) of writing one that is pitcher-centric but I do not expect it to be ready for distribution until late 2011.

I am familiar with weight training in general, what I am not familiar with and asking advise about is what a kid who has not matured should do as it pertains to baseball and pitching. I do not want him performing exercises that may be detrimental to his pitching (perhaps bench press, bicep curls, military presses, etc?)


Sounds like you have a great kid on your hands!

Here are a few points to consider:

  1. At your son’s age, think “athlete specific” training rather than “baseball specific” weight training and conditioning program. We train all our guys to be athletes first…and then tweak their program based on specific needs.
    In your son’s case, make sure he is doing a well-rounded program that includes a strong core (NOT CRUNCHES), compound lifts (squats, cleans,etc) and lots of mobility/stability movements- especially around the hip and shoulder girdle.

  2. Some things we don’t do with our throwing athletes: Usually don’t bench with a barbell (use DB neutral grip). No overhead pressing (especially with a bar). No pulldowns behind the neck (do neutral grip pull-ups). no real reason to do isolated arm exercises- they get work from other movements.

  3. Cannot stress enough how important it is to clean up faulty movement patterns before they becomes problems down the line. Hopefully, your school or local area has someone who is knowledgable in this area. Depending on where you live maybe I (or Kyleb who is also a good coach) can refer you to someone.

  4. Could probably help with more feedback if I knew exactly what kind of lifting program your son was doing now…

Probably lots more I could add on but will wait for further feedback from you before proceeding.

AccelerateGuy and Kyleb,

Thanks for the responses.

Right now he is weight training with the HS baseball team and I think they do not focus on overhead presses, straight bar bench, or curls, as the coach has mentioned we should limit those. I think they focus a good bit on legs and core exercises. As for specifics, I will have to ask him as I have not seen any of the workouts.

He does try to focus on general athletics, playing 3 sports keeps him pretty well rounded. He generally runs 8-10 miles a week in addition to practices.

The issue the past few years has been trying to fit a weight training program that would benefit all 3 sports and not hurt one of them. For the most part, he has not followed a weight training program due to the amount of baseball he plays from February through September or October. Unfortunately at his size, he plays the line in football and upper body strength is a key factor. I know once summer ball is over (2 weeks) he will switch over to football workouts and they will do a good bit of bench press. The wrestling coach is also the weight training coach/teacher and I know he includes bench, military presses, curls, etc.

If some of these exercises can be detrimental to throwing athletes, I want to make sure he is careful or avoids them if necessary while participating in his other sport workouts. His passion is baseball and that is the sport he wants to make his primary focus. Also, since the majority of the HS kids have matured, it would be nice to know if there are specific exercises he should possibly avoid if he has not reached the same maturity level (again, for throwing athletes).

Additionally, this will be the first year he will not wrestle :frowning: but instead plans to focus solely on baseball after football season. Since he will miss the wrestling workouts, which keep him in the best shape of any sport, we will need to develop a program that he can follow on his own for the most part.

At this point I am trying to research and learn as much as I can (I have football and wrestling background but not baseball) so we can make informed decisions.

IMO the baseball athlete should generally avoid bench and overhead pressing while near or in-season. However, training them is vitally important for success on the football field, and I don’t think there’s much risk of training it in the fall if he’s not throwing a baseball often.

Here’s a link you might be interested in.
Not specifically dealing with weight-lifting,
but lots about core strength and creating power in an athlete’s body.