Hardcore sports fans will sometimes take issue with baseball players, suggesting that their sport is less physically demanding than others. Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, who has clubbed more home runs than any other player in the American League the last three years, including a career-high 54 in 2010, takes issue with that statement — and not out of personal bias but because of the facts. “I think baseball players are more well-rounded athletes,” he says. “Baseball doesn’t require you to be good at just one or two things — you have to be able to do a lot of things well.”
Sprinting, jumping, shuffling, swinging and throwing are chief among the acute, in-game demands of ballplayers, but with 162 games — each lasting several hours — on the regular-season schedule, there are few elite athletes who can claim comparable levels of stamina.
Understandably, it can be difficult for a player to maintain muscle mass or to retain high levels of conditioning over such a demanding stretch, which is why Bautista is a huge fan of preseason prep and in-season maintenance work. At the heart of his plan is recovery.
How do you get your body ready to handle the rigors of such a long season?
Preseason, we are really just trying to build up strength and stamina. We do some power exercises for major muscle groups and incorporate that with a lot of core and stability work. The thing about baseball is that you don’t just need to work out one particular part of your body. You use a lot of torque, you’re running a lot, you have to work on your arm. There’s a lot to do.
How does this change once the season starts?
After the season starts, we just try to maintain. It’s a good mix of going through circuits station to station with some cardio work.
It’s a long season and holding on to muscle is tough. How do you manage that?
Well, everybody loses weight during the season. Your legs are sore, your body’s sore everywhere. I try not to lose muscle mass, though, so I try to keep my protein intake up and do my maintenance work. During the season, I’m not as strict with my diet as I am in the offseason. It’s a tough, long season and it wears on you, and if there’s a lot of structure [to your diet], you’re limiting yourself. Since we’re playing so much, I could use the extra calories. But the key for me is
MuscleTech Performance Series Nitro Tech because you can always have the powder available to supplement with. I keep it in my hotel rooms, in my locker and at home. There are a lot of times when there are only certain foods available to you, whether it’s that late-night menu at the hotel or the restaurants are closed or you wake up after breakfast is over, so Nitro Tech helps give me the nutrients that I need. Sometimes, I’ll chug one before bed, too.
Here’s the legs-and-core routine that Jose Bautista uses to build long-ball power.
Bautista follows this workout with various Pilates-style and exercise-ball-based abdominal exercises.
Medicine-Ball Rotational Throw: With his shoulders perpendicular to a wall and knees slightly bent, Bautista holds a med ball with outstretched arms, turns away from the wall and aggressively swings back toward the wall, releasing the ball against the wall. Bautista catches the rebound and rotates into the next rep.
Medicine-Ball “Shot Put”: With his shoulders perpendicular to a wall and knees slightly bent, Bautista holds a med ball against his chest, turns away from the wall and aggressively swings back toward the wall, “shot putting” the ball with the hand farthest from the wall. Bautista catches the rebound with both hands and rotates into the next rep.