Softball Weight Training Template

While there are no one-size-fits-all training programs, most good programs will have similar basics.  The basics aren’t in the sets, reps, load, or rest periods, but rather are in the movements.  Balance between muscle groups and performing movements correctly is a good foundation for any weight training program.

Of course, every phase of ours will be different.  Pre-season and in-season lifts will be different from off-season developmental lifts, and agility-focused and plyometric-focused days will be different from strength days.

However the following is a good basic strength template to use for softball players (in order of importance), with these movements spread out between 2-4 sessions per week.


-Hip hinge pattern* (usually a deadlift variation)

-Horizontal pull (Row)

-Single-leg variation

-Push-up variation* (we will not do actual push-ups until I know the athletes can do them perfectly, to actually get some benefit from them)

-Squat pattern

-Vertical pull* (e.g. pull-up variation)

-Pressing variation (usually lower volume since push-ups are also a “press.” I like progressing to dumbbell floor presses since it limits excessive humeral extension that softball players can get with traditional bench pressing)



-Core work (and I’m not talking sit-ups and crunches- this will be another post)

-Cuff work**

-An extra posterior chain and/or horizontal pull if you’d like

*these exercises especially are where progressions are very important.  For example, if you jump directly into push-ups with an athlete who doesn’t have a good foundation, the exercise will be ugly- no question about it.  And likely very little benefit.  No amount of coaching will cover up an actual physical weakness.  So no matter how much you tell them to keep their elbows and chin tucked on the push-up, they will flare their elbows and reach their neck toward the ground as compensation.  This could be an entire post in itself, however we must be smart and make the athlete successful by giving them something they can perform correctly at first (e.g. push-ups on a raised barbell with perfect form, or eccentric push-ups only- “negatives”).  We don’t progress to actual push-ups until at least 4-6 weeks of working on progressions, sometimes longer.

**during times where we’re throwing/practicing almost every day, we will only do direct cuff work in the weight room maybe twice a week (three at the most).  Remember that throwing IS cuff work!  The rotator cuff’s job is to stabilize the humerus in the ball-and-socket joint, so every throw is working the rotator cuff with a 7 oz ball.  Doing direct work every single day before practice on a group of 5 tiny muscles (the rotator cuff) seems like the overuse risk would override any possible reward…who ever came with this idea and why has it been traditionally accepted without question?


During some weeks I will just scratch the squat pattern and focus more on the hips, and as throwing increases and the season approaches we will swap the vertical pull for another horizontal pull (row).  Additionally we will scratch the pressing as throwing increases (we’ll keep the push-ups though).

Notice how we don’t have wrist extensions, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, and other relatively useless exercises in our lift.  Of course, if an athlete has some postural issues, excessive weakness, or excessive stiffness, I will have an individualized pre-warm-up routine for them, and we do get a lot of good mobility and activation in our warm-ups as well.  Otherwise we spend our time doing exercises that will give you the best bang for your buck and get the athletes strong, healthy, and powerful.

Hopefully this post was useful, and if you have other categories that you use in your lifts, feel free to post in the comments below!

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