If you’re a New York Mets fan, you may have rare cause to rejoice over a highlight reel. Star starter Noah Syndergaard recently posted a workout montage on Twitter, grimacing his way through some Thor-like pull-ups, squats, some kettlebell work, and lunges. Even in the short clip, you can tell he’s serious about his workouts.
Of course, Mets fans, conditioned by years of epic letdowns to look for the dark cloud in every silver lining, have to ask whether that’s a good thing. Is it possible that Syndergaard could be sabotaging his throwing form by getting jacked? Pitching, says Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S, “is a unique motion that requires near-perfect kinematic sequencing and timing, and building imbalanced strength can throw that off.” That can lead to injuries, and for Mets fans, possibly yet another disappointing season. Syndergaard’s already showed up freshly jacked for a new season, only to suffer a lat tear in May 2017, basically torpedoing his season.
So what should Syndergaard be doing in the gym to make sure he’s not setting himself up for heartbreak? Samuel points out that the Twitter clip is indeed a highlight reel; it’s not the pitcher’s full regimen. It’s hard to know what else he might be doing. “Shoulder and scapular balance are critical to any pitcher’s throwing motion,” Samuel says, “and at elite levels, that balance can easily be thrown off if, say, you’re strengthening your lats but not keeping them loose to retain shoulder mobility.” Hopefully Syndergaard is foam rolling and using soft-tissue work to avoid that problem, especially since he’s attacking those pull-ups.
What we can see him doing is building leg strength, and Samuel says that’s key for a pitcher. “A pitcher can attack leg training with greater aggression because that lower-body power translates to pitching without messing up that delicate shoulder-scapular balance,” he says. With the front squats and split squats seen in the video, Syndergaard’s also building a more stable base from which to pitch. So while strength training for pitchers requires careful balance, Mets fans can breathe a little easier knowing that their Thor seems to be doing a lot of things right.