Baseball Aerobic Exercise in Training

I watch baseball often and I have noticed the massive amount of force used rapidly by baseball players. So is baseball an aerobic or anaerobic exercise? At what point in baseball training do we need to add baseball aerobic exercise?

In this article, I will discuss what an aerobic exercise is, and at what point should baseball aerobic exercises be incorporated into the training programs of baseball players. Take note: baseball is an anaerobic sport.

Maybe you are new to baseball. So let me start by summarizing baseball.

What is baseball?

Baseball is a sport played with a bat-and-ball on a field by two opposing teams of 9 players each. The fundamental rules of baseball are 9 players in the lineup for each team, balls and strikes, tagging up, tag outs, and force outs.

Baseball is basically an anaerobic sport that relies on the ATP-PC system for the players to produce energy for the short, big, repeated and explosive movements in the game. The anaerobic alactic system (without oxygen and without lactic acid) provides the immediate energy necessary for the high-intensity movements in the game.

Most baseball plays are for 5 seconds or fewer. A Major League pitcher, for instance, takes 1.3 to 1.5 seconds to put the ball on the plate from a full windup and 1.0 to 1.3 seconds from stretch. Averagely batters go from home to first in 4.3 to 4.5 seconds when running out. This occurs with little or no deterioration throughout the game.

Being an explosive game, a baseball player has to train explosively. So, do we have baseball aerobic exercises during training sessions?


baseball aerobic exercise-circuit training c

What is aerobic exercise?

Aerobic exercise or cardio is an endurance-type exercise that increases a person’s heart rate and breathing rate over a relatively long time. There is enough supply of oxygen to the muscles to burn calories, producing energy for the exercise. Aerobic means the body cells are producing energy with the use of oxygen.

The person’s muscles move in a coordinated and rhythmic way for a relatively long duration. This is contrary to anaerobic exercise in which an athlete undergoes quick intense workouts in the absence of oxygen supply to the muscles.

Baseball sport being an anaerobic exercise, its players also need to incorporate aerobic training into their conditioning programs to maintain them in a better shape.

Maybe you are interested in knowing the differences between aerobic and anaerobic exercises? Check our article on aerobic vs. anaerobic exercises for definitions, types, differences, similarities, health benefits and risks of aerobic and anaerobic exercises.

Methods for training baseball players

A baseball player should have the following physical qualities.

  • Improved alactic power–immediate supply of energy from ATP for sustained high-intensity movement. It provides very high power output but low endurance capacity.
  • Alactic capacity–how long your muscles can sustain a high-intensity activity.
  • Aerobic capacity–your level of cardiovascular fitness measured in VO2 max or ml/kg/min. it provides low power output but high endurance capacity

As you can see, baseball needs a sound aerobic energy base and sound anaerobic energy base. Both systems should be trained, but not at the same time. Which system you train depends on the time. Prioritize your effort to get the results you want in time. If you chase two animals, both will escape. Chase one at a time.

The law of specificity states that “a muscle must be used in similar patterns and ways that it is needed in order to make specific gains on an individual”.

Therefore, it would be wise to make the methods of conditioning baseball players the same as the sport.

The lack of adherence to specific scientific methods has caused trainers of baseball players to use conventional and innovative techniques for physical conditioning. Many of the programs lack enough anaerobic exercises.

NB: An anaerobic alactic system provides the immediate energy you need for high-intensity training. It is synonymous with sprint training, weight training, and resistance training.

The lactic acid system provides energy for activities with very hard efforts that can last for about 10–20 seconds. The buildup of lactic acid and other metabolites in your muscles gives you the burning sensation in your muscles.

Anaerobic training for baseball players

The training of baseball players should focus on developing the alactic and anaerobic power systems. Baseball is an alactic sport (no lactate is formed during baseball activity). Fatigue in the muscles is not caused by the formation of lactic acid, as popularly believed.

Research (Astrand et al.) shows that the normal quantity of lactic acid circulating in blood is about 1 to 2 millimoles per liters of blood. Lactate accumulation starts between 2 to 4 millimoles per litre of blood.

For non-athletes, this corresponds to about 50% to 60% VO2max and for professional athletes, this corresponds to 70% to 80% VO2max. This is the anaerobic threshold level beyond which lactic acid starts accumulating in the athlete’s blood. In trained athletes, the anaerobic threshold corresponds to 80% to 90% maximum heart rate (MHR)

During pitching, for instance, the pitcher’s heart rate increase above 40–50% of VO2max. Most of the energy comes from an anaerobic energy system known as ATP-PC (adenosine triphosphate (ATP) phosphocreatine (PC)).

The average time required for pitching is about 1 to 2 seconds. The rest period is about 17 seconds during which one-enzyme reaction fulfilled the energy requirements during the pitching and aerobic metabolism in the recovery period.

baseball anaerobic exercises, shuttle runs

Tips for Baseball anaerobic Training

So what should be done to develop the alactic capacity and improve the alactic power of a baseball player before and during the season? Follow the tips below.

Shuttle Runs

During pre–season, add shuttle runs to improve anaerobic capacity, enhance anaerobic power, and to prepare the body for acceleration, deceleration, and change of directions. During conditioning sessions, it is imperative for players to perform these movements enough times. This will help them during regular season games. Go gradually.

  • Begin with 1-3×150 yard shuttles in 25–30 seconds over 50 yard course giving a 1 minute rest between.
  • Continue to 6×150 and reduce the course to 25 yards, increasing the intensity and number of starts and stops.
  • To increase gains, lengthen the course to 300 yards and start with 2–3 ×300 over a 50 yard course. Gradually progress to 6×300 over a course of 25 yards.
  • Recovery time between reps should be increase to 75–90 seconds over 300 yard course.
  • The baseball athletes should perform ground–based shuttles 1 to 2 times per week.
  • To facilitate recovery from ground–based training, baseball players should perform bike or elliptical intervals once per week. This should double the length of non – ground–based intervals.

Agility work

Let’s look at what gives baseball players the ability to run faster but staying light on their feet. The following agility drills for baseball will give speed and stability.

  • Bunny hops
  • Side hopes
  • Two jumps forward, one jump back
  • Squat out/ hop in
  • Pushups and sprint drills
  • Agility ladder feet shuffle drill
  • Running and switching drill
  • Lateral lunge
  • Backpedal ball drop
  • Quadrant drill
  • Balloon drills
  • Agility balls
  • Box jumps
  • Machine ball drills
  • Skater with toe tap
  • Cone ball running drills
  • Delayed steal agility drill
  • Figure 8 drill
  • Running for the double

Most offensive injuries take place on the base path. So let the players run the bases for at least once a week during the 3 weeks before serious games in spring training or in normal baseball season.

Strength and power

To throw, run, jump, and change directions, the baseball needs to be explosive and powerful with the frequent Energy bursts involved in the game.

This is so imperative and baseball coaches have to consistently address in baseball training programs. Baseball players have many ways of developing their power and strength and conditioning setting. Each exercise has its pros and cons. So you need the services of a specialist if you are not a professional baseball player. For Baseball players to make powerful swings and throws, they should:

  • Jump Squat
  • Do Olympic lifts
  • Do complex contrast lifts

baseball anaerobic exercises

Aerobic training for baseball players

Aerobic training is excellent for building muscular endurance and cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory fitness. Meaning your heart and lungs become more efficient and stronger. This gives you the ability to train longer and harder as your fitness level increases. The aerobic energy system has the following characteristics:

  • Unlimited supply of oxygen to the muscles
  • Uses carbohydrates, fats and proteins sometimes
  • Unlimited energy supply
  • Has the highest work-capacity of all the energy systems.

Baseball pitchers need high aerobic capacity. This will help them to fully recover between intensive bouts of alactic power at pitching. Position players need aerobic capacity to maintain energy in the muscles in between bouts of alactic power at sprinting the field, running the bases and swinging the bat. These are separated by extended bouts of inactivity.

Now, what are the benefits of aerobic training? Baseball aerobic exercises or training give the baseball player a better shape because of the following benefits.

  • Gives the body a break from the high explosive movements of baseball game
  • Improves recovery after bouts of energy
  • Lowers the resting heart rate
  • Improves the left ventricle efficiency.
  • Improves performance on the field due to less fatigue and better movement quality
  • Decreases injury risks from fatigue

Do we have detrimental effects of aerobic training on a baseball player? The answer is yes. In the next section, we will talk about the risks of a baseball player undergoing aerobic endurance training for longer periods.

Disadvantages of baseball aerobic exercise

According to research, endurance exercise lasting over 30 minutes has detrimental effects on power output. Large aerobic base exercises using long distance, low intensity and continuous running are not favorable for baseball players.

Long runs use the run energy system. They develop the wrong type of muscle fiber and favor the production of cortisol. Cortisol is a catalytic hormone that increases the breakdown of proteins. This reduces lean body mass, strength, and power.

Aerobic training has the following detrimental effects on a baseball player.

  • Drastic drop of power output after 30 minutes of aerobic training.
  • Decrease in muscle fiber size
  • Decrease in muscle strength and power

How to build an aerobic base while still maintaining power and strength

Non-conditioning days should introduce drills that improve and reinforce proper running mechanics. Good running mechanics prevent energy leakages during running workouts. No matter how big you are, your speed is determined by your running mechanics. Use the following tips to develop an aerobic base while still maintaining strength and power.

  • Do High intensity interval training(HIIT)
  • Avoid steady state, long aerobic training
  • Repeated sprints with minimal rests intervals increase VO2 max(aerobic capacity)
  • Do not add traditional extended aerobic endurance exercise into conditioning activities.
  • Get in shape in off-seasons
  • Begin with tempo runs. You should be able to run 100yards in 18-20 seconds.
  • Have 3 training sessions per week
  • Limit the number of cardio (jogging, biking, elliptical or treadmill) work to 20–30 minutes a session.
  • Baseball coaches and players use the off-season to develop a sound aerobic base
  • As a baseball player, you do not need high aerobic capacity. An average of 50ml/kg/min is enough fuel.

I will wrap up this guide soon but recommend you as a baseball player or coach to read this related article Activity tracker so you can use it to track your heart rate for instance during training and workouts.

Wrapping up

Baseball training programs should be focused on bridging the gap between injury prevention (baseball aerobic exercises) and power production (anaerobic exercises)

Baseball is an anaerobic sport that relies on anaerobic energy system known as ATP-PC and does not need a high aerobic capacity.

It is important to train both anaerobic and aerobic energy systems, but not all. Focus on one depending on the time of the season to maximize results on the field.

Train smartly and use your time wisely. Put to use the energy system you need only when you need it. Sprinters cannot maintain speed by jogging while shot putters cannot maintain power by doing circuit training.

In the same way, a baseball pitcher cannot maintain his velocity by doing 3 sets of 10 at 70% of 1 RM and jogging for 20mins/day

1 RM = 1 Repetition Maximum: the maximum weight an individual can lift for only one repetition with the correct technique.


1. Is hitting a baseball aerobic or anaerobic?

Hitting a baseball is an anaerobic exercise. Hitting a baseball is a high-intensity activity that needs the anaerobic alactic system to provide the immediate energy you need for suck quick action. Aerobic activity is needed by the muscles after hitting the baseball just for recovery.

2. What exercises are good for baseball?

Though Baseball is an anaerobic alactic sport, it also needs aerobic activity. To develop strength and power, a baseball player should do the following exercises:

  • Side hopes
  • Two jumps forward, one jump back
  • Squat out/ hop in
  • Pushups and sprint drills
  • Agility ladder feet shuffle drill
  • Running and switching drill
  • Lateral lunge
  • Backpedal ball drop
  • Quadrant drill
  • Balloon drills
  • Agility balls
  • Box jumps
  • Machine ball drills
  • Skater with toe tap

To develop cardiovascular endurance, a baseball player should do the following aerobic exercises but not high levels of aerobic fitness

  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Brisk walking
  • Cycling
  • Elliptical training.

3. Do baseball players require high levels of aerobic fitness?

Though Baseball is an anaerobic alactic sport, it also needs aerobic activity but not high levels of aerobic fitness. Aerobic exercises give the body a break from explosives movements, reduces injury risk and resting heart rate, improve recovery, the left ventricle efficiency and performance on the field.

However, high levels of aerobic fitness are detrimental to a baseball player in that:

  • High levels of aerobic fitness reduces the power output
  • It decreases the muscle fiber size
  • It decreases power and strength

4. What sports are anaerobic?

What sports are considered anaerobic? There are many sports which require anaerobic power and capacity to play them.

  • Boxing, hockey,
  •  wrestling volleyball,
  • basketball,
  • Sprinting
  • soccer
  • rowing,
  • long-distance-running
  • weightlifting.

5. What are 5 examples of anaerobic exercises?

The 5 different types of anaerobic exercises include:

  • weightlifting.
  • jumping or jumping rope.
  • sprinting.
  • high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • biking.

6. What type of energy system is used in baseball?

Baseball uses the ATP-PC system since it is an anaerobic sport. To provide energy for the high intensity and explosive movements in baseball games, the body requires the ATP-PC system for energy supply to the muscles.


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