Editor's note: This is one in an occasional series of fitness columns by Dinger's strength and conditioning coach, Sean Doran of the Sacramento River Cats.
As players check into spring training, trainers always get the same story. We hear about how hard they worked in the off season and how strong they got.
Their tune changes after their first lower-body workout. We begin to hear complaints of them being too sore to get in their stance or too tired to lift again.
This is especially the case with catchers, whose legs take a beating during spring while catching for the pitchers also looking for their shot to wow the staff. Keeping a catcher's legs strong and flexible is one of the harder tasks for a strength and conditioning coach, but also one of the most important.
(Before starting a new exercise regimen, consult a physician to make sure you're good to go.)
All of these exercises can easily be done with dumbbells or barbells at a gym, or just using your body weight at home.
Start with body weight and work through the full range of motion to ensure proper form as well as maintaining your flexibility.
These moves are great for all athletes as well as anyone trying to increase leg strength.
Squat: Stand up straight, and start with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. With your shoulders back and your chest wide, bend at the knees and drop down while sticking your butt back behind you.
Lunge: There are many variations. Choose one that works for you. Stagger one foot out in front of you and one back behind you. Point your toes straight ahead. Just as with the squats, keep your chest wide and shoulders back. Drop your back knee down toward the ground, then return to the starting position with both legs straight. Be sure to work both legs.
Step-ups: Find a small step or stairs not taller than your knees. Step up onto them and then back down. Alternate which leg you step up with. Be sure to keep your balance, as this one will also work on your balance.
Next week: Learn about how hitters benefit from strong upper bodies.
What: A Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland A's, this team was a training ground for Barry Zito, Eric Hinske, Eric Byrnes and many other players who went on to success in The Show. Here are times and days to remember as the season launches:
6:05 p.m. Saturday: River Cats v. A's, exhibition
7:05 p.m. April 13-16, 1:05 p.m. April 15: River Cats vs. Reno Aces, first series in an eight-day home stand
7:05 p.m. April 17, April 19-20, 12:05 p.m. April 18: River Cats vs. Tacoma Rainiers, second series in an eight-day home stand
Where: Raley Field, 400 Ballpark Drive, West Sacramento
Cost: $8 and up for single games, $792 and up for season tickets
Contact: (916) 371-4487, www.rivercats.com