Power Changes Everything: 9 MLB Players with the Most Intense Training Regimens
Some MLB players are just born with power.
It's the most valuable tool in the game. However, even the major leaguers who are naturally powerful have to do whatever it takes to hone their strength. What follows is a rundown of the nine MLB players with the most intense training regimens.
From pushing cars to hitting the gym at a ridiculously early hour to breaking off epic bike rides, there are all sorts of ways for big leaguers to crack this list.
Russell Martin, C
Russell Martin doesn't actually get into the ring.
However, the Gold Glove catcher has incorporated MMA-style workouts into his offseason training regimen, as he explained via Dan Israeli of Men's Fitness.
"I don’t want people to get confused—what I do is power endurance, high-intensity, high-speed circuits involving lots of kicking and punching. I don’t do any mat grappling and I haven’t sparred with anybody. It’s dangerous and I don’t want to risk getting hurt."
Catching is the most physically demanding spot on the diamond, and Martin puts himself through grueling workouts to make sure he's as prepared as possible. The backstop warms up for 30 to 40 minutes before even kicking off the circuit training, power endurance portion of his workouts.
Yoenis Cespedes, LF
Before he even stepped onto a big league field, Yoenis Cespedes was famous for his highly entertaining workout video titled "The Showcase."
The highlight reel, which you can watch above, opens with a Star Wars-style intro and runs about 20 minutes. Some of the best parts include the Cuban doing 45-inch box jumps and leg pressing 1,300 pounds, including a couple of people sitting on top of the weights. The outfielder later released a second video, which was simply called "Yoenis Cespedes Encore."
In his three seasons in the major leagues, the 29-year-old has demonstrated all sorts of power. Cespedes has twice won the Home Run Derby and has uncorked some unbelievable throws from the outfield, as you can watch via MLB.com.
Andrew McCutchen, CF
It's no accident that Andrew McCutchen has landed in the top three in the National League MVP Award voting in each of the past three seasons.
The center fielder stepped up his offseason conditioning prior to the 2012 campaign, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pittsburgh Pirates superstar spent six weeks working out at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, focusing on "core-strengthening drills." All that extra work has helped the 28-year-old develop some of the most explosive bat speed in baseball.
As Brendon Huttmann, the Pirates strength and conditioning coach, told Adena Andrews of Men's Fitness, sometimes less is more for McCutchen. During the season, the 2013 NL MVP Award winner avoids lifting his max weight in order to stay fresh during the 162-game grind.
Bryce Harper, LF
Bryce Harper hits the gym early—really early.
Last offseason, Harper would wake up at 4:50 a.m. four times a week and would be lifting weights by 5:30 a.m., according to James Wagner of The Washington Post. The left fielder's workouts would run between 90 minutes and two hours, and there was no time to rest in between sets.
"The last workout of the winter consisted of seven super sets—comprised of three exercises each, one for the chest, one for the back and another for the core," Wagner wrote. "And each is done three times. Do the math: that’s more than 60 exercises in one morning. Sometimes it’s more."
The results of those early-morning gym sessions were remarkable. After telling Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post that he wanted to get "as big as a house," Harper definitely accomplished that goal. 106.7 The Fan provides a look at the results.
Jose Fernandez, SP
From chopping trees with an ax to putting in unreal miles on his bike, Jose Fernandez has some "unorthodox" training methods, according to Tom D'Angelo of The Palm Beach Post.
Last offseason, the Miami Marlins electric right-hander would routinely pedal 90 miles a day on his $9,000 bike. The 2013 NL Rookie of the Year award winner topped out at 124 miles on a single ride and clocked over 500 each week.
Fernandez told Craig Davis of the Sun-Sentinel that cycling is a lot like pitching.
"On the bike you can do intervals," he said. "You go hard and then slow down. It's kind of like an inning, is the way I see it. I'm going really hard for 10, 12 minutes and then I slow down for 5 or 6 minutes. Conditioning-wise, it's amazing. I'm glad that I did it."
This offseason, cycling will be out of the picture for Fernandez as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.
Mike Trout, CF
Dan Richter, who has been working with Mike Trout since the three-time All-Star was in high school, has to get creative when it comes to training the 23-year-old.
"I have to tweak normal exercises...because the average stuff just won’t him help—he’s so above and beyond the average," Richter said, via Sarah Toland of Sports Illustrated.
One way to accomplish that goal is to have Trout hold on to extra weights as he rips off box jumps. Trout works out with Richter six days a week during the offseason. While box jumps are at the core of the workouts, they're just one of the array of exercises that his training regimen consists of. Trout also does Olympic-style lifting, plyometrics and TRX training, among other activities, according to Toland.
Yasiel Puig, CF
Yasiel Puig is the most athletic player in baseball.
The Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder stands 6'3" and weighs 235 pounds, but he can absolutely fly—both in the outfield and on the basepaths.
As Bill Bradley of Men's Fitness explains, the 2014 NL All-Star has a diverse training program.
"Rather than throw around a bunch of iron in the weight room, Puig opts for a heavy-duty regimen of medicine-ball work, calisthenics and body-weight exercises," Bradley writes. "He doesn’t need to lift like a defensive lineman (despite looking like one), but he’s monastic when it comes to fitness."
In the offseason, Puig also runs with parachutes, as you can see in his Instagram post above.
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Josh Donaldson has shattered all expectations.
Back in 2012, the right-handed hitter was languishing in Triple-A. Fast-forward to the present, and Donaldson isn't just one of the best defensive third basemen in the AL, he's also one of the most dynamic players in the league.
Credit for that remarkable rise goes to his relentless work ethic. Donaldson prepared for the 2013 season by spending his time working out with University of South Alabama strength coach Jerry Partsch, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The 6'0" Donaldson can now squat 465 pounds thanks to a "winter of flipping tires and throwing kegs," as Slusser writes. Adding that extra strength has paid major dividends for the 2014 AL All-Star. Over the past two seasons, Donaldson has clubbed 53 home runs for the Oakland Athletics.
Hunter Pence, RF
Hunter Pence is one of the most eccentric players in baseball. The 31-year-old's offseason workouts are pretty out there too.
The San Francisco Giants right fielder inked a five-year, $90 million contract extension at the end of the 2013 season and then spent the winter pushing cars up hills, as you can see in his Instagram post above.
The offseason before, Pence played an absurd amount of pingpong. The veteran explained his thought process to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area: "Sounds crazy, right? It works your fast-twitch muscles."
Note: All videos courtesy of MLB.com, YouTube.com and Instagram.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.