Upon the creation of my log, I found that someone had stated that they did not use the bench press for pitching, and I have seen some posts of people debating it. So, I am creating this post to show why I feel pitchers should bench press.
So, the muscles activated when throwing are…
Group II muscles accelerated the arm and baseball forward in space. These muscles, the pectoralis major, serratus anterior, sub scapularis, and latissimus dorsi, had stronger activity during the propulsive phase of the pitch (1).
The muscles activated by bench press are…
The sternocostal head of the pectorals major was more active during the press from a horizontal bench than from a decline bench. Also, the clavicular head of the pectoralis major was more active with a narrow hand spacing. Anterior deltoid activity tended to increase as trunk inclination increased. The long head of the triceps brachia was more active during the decline and flat bench presses than the other two conditions, and was also more active with a narrow hand spacing, Latissimus doors exhibited low activity in all conditions (2).
So the same muscles are activated, which should mean that it will increase velocity. Now, lets test it out…
Twenty- four elite collegiate baseball players (age 18-20 years) trained twice per week for 8 weeks. The isotonic resistance-training protocol consisted of 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions maximum (RM) for the first 4 weeks. Thereafter, they performed 3 sets of 6RM to 8RM for the last 4 weeks. The isotonic exercises included the conventional bench press and barbell pullover exercises that are commonly used by baseball players to train upper-body muscles in throwing. The results of this study showed a 4.1 and 22.8% increase in throwing velocity and upper-body muscular strength, respectively (3)………
Effect of resistance training on release velocity. – Bench press – 3 sets, 5–6 reps – 85% of 1 Repetition Maximum – 3 Sessions per week – Yes it had a significant increase in throwing velocity (17–18%) (4)………
Post hoc analysis showed a significantly higher mean throwing velocity for the training group following 8 weeks of strength training. The Treatment Group Participated in an 8 week supervised upper body strength training program consisting of 11 exercises, listed below (5).
Flat Bench Press
Upper Lat Pulldown
Internal Shoulder Rotation
External Shoulder Rotation
Horizontal Shoulder Abduction
Horizontal Shoulder Abduction
Potteiger et al. found a significant increase in throwing velocity (2.3 mph) using a traditional upper- and lower- body isotonic exercise protocol with collegiate position players. These investigators used a progressive resistance-training protocol with the following exercises: the bench press, military press, latissimus pull-down, biceps curl, triceps extension, squat, leg curl, and leg extension (6)
So, I think this should prove the point that the bench press is okay?
To avoid pattern overload, it would be wise to
A) not bench with a fatigued shoulder from a repetitive motion like throwing
B) try to isolate the chest. use a narrow grip on a horizontal bench. keeping the elbows in helps activate more chest, too.
1 Gowan ID, Jobe FW, Tibone JE, Perry J, Moynes DR. – A comparative electromyographic analysis of the shoulder during pitching. Professional versus amateur pitchers. – Am J Sports Med. 1987 Nov-Dec;15(6):586-90.
2 Barnett, Chris; Kippers, Vaughan; Turner, Peter – Effects of Variations of the Bench Press Exercise on the EMG Activity of Five Shoulder Muscles. – Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: November 1995.
3 Robert U. Newton and Kerry P. McEvoy – Baseball Throwing Velocity: A Comparison of Medicine Ball Training and Weight Training. – Centre for Exercise Science & Sport Management, Southern Cross University, Lismore NSW 2480, Australia – Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 1994, 8(3), 198-203.
4 ROLAND VAN DEN TILLAAR – EFFECT OF DIFFERENT TRAINING PROGRAMS ON THE
VELOCITY OF OVERARM THROWING:ABRIEF REVIEW – Section for Human Movement Science, Faculty of Social and Technology Management, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway. – Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2004, 18(2), 388–396.
5 Tony Lachowetz, John Evon and Jamie Pastiglion – The Effect of an Upper Body Strength Program on Intercollegiate Baseball Throwing Velocity – Department of Movement Sciences, Springflied College, Springfield, Massachusetts 01109.
6 COOP DERENNE, KWOK W. HO, AND JAMES C. MURPHY – Effects of General, Special, and Specific Resistance Training on Throwing Velocity in Baseball: A Brief Review – Department of Kinesiology and Leisure Science, College of Education, University of Hawaii-Manoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822; University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6K2B2. – Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2001, 15(1), 148–156.
For those interested in further reading of these sources, just copy the citation and paste it into google scholar and they will show up.