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Rice bucket training, exercises, and workout routine for baseball players and athletes

Are you wasting your time with rice bucket training?
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 4th March 2021
A bucket of white rice

Doing a rice bucket workout as part of a warm-up or during your regular fitness activities can strengthen your forearm for baseball and a variety of other sports where having strong lower arms is essential.

This guide answers some common questions about rice bucket training. Then we’ll get into the 7 most effective rice bucket exercises for baseball players and other athletes who need to up their forearm game.

Related post: forearm workouts for baseball

Is rice bucket training useful?

Rice bucket training is useful for not only developing strong forearms but also for building up the smaller muscles of the hands and fingers. As such, it’s particularly beneficial for baseball because you’re literally using your hands, wrists, and fingers through the entire game. [1]

Rice bucket training helps you to improve your wrist control and forearm power while minimizing injuries.

These bucket baseball exercises will also give you better control over your wrists and allow you to engage your forearm muscles when you need them most because these drills really hammer the fast twitch muscle fibers.

Moreover, you’re far less likely to get injured from rice exercise than traditional resistance training. Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t lift weights. But, it is to say that performing more dynamic movements, like those in a typical rice bucket baseball workout, is very beneficial for developing functional strength on the field.

Should baseball players do rice bucket exercise?

Every coach and player has their own way of developing the forearms and surrounding muscles for baseball. [2] And like many protocols, rice bucket exercise is simply another tool that you can keep in your arsenal.

Filling up a bucket of rice isn’t exactly expensive, either. So it’s certainly something that you can do at home to improve your game.

As mentioned, strengthening your grip using rice is also a great way to stay injury-free because you’re not just doing the same motions as when you lift weights. Yes, we are performing repetitive motions, but we’re also developing that crucial wrist control.

When you combine these low-impact drills with weight training, you’ll build both power and strength and also improve your control of the smaller wrist and hand muscles, which are pivotal to maximizing your baseball performance.

Best rice bucket exercises

When performing a strength workout, you can do these rice bucket exercise drills in any order, but I always advise starting with a hand rotation to warm-up your wrist joints

1. Wrist rotations

Having strong forearms for baseball is crucially important. But if you don’t develop proper control over your wrists, then all of that muscle mass will be in vain. That’s why I highly recommend starting your rice bucket workout with wrist rotations. They warm-up the notoriously vulnerable wrist joint and get the blood pumping in your lower arms.

Punch into the rice and then rotate your wrist in a circular, clockwise direction for 30 seconds. Make sure to perform complete circles to really improve your rotational control. Once the 30 seconds are up, perform the same motion but in a counterclockwise direction.

2. Wrist extensions

The wrist extensors are relativity small and weak muscles compared to the meaty flexors. So to prevent them from fatiguing prematurely, we need to perform direct training so that we can maintain peak performance on the field.

Place the tops of your fingers in the rice so that your palms are facing you. Then, flick the rice away by extending your wrist away from your body. Keep this motion up for 30 seconds, and picture yourself digging a hole in the rice for the best workout possible.

Of course, like all of these rice bucket exercises, you want to repeat the movement with your other arm so that you don’t create any muscle imbalances.

3. Pronation/supination

In baseball, you don’t keep your forearms in the same position throughout the entire game. So, to get your lower arms used to changing position quickly, we’re going to do some forearms supinations and pronations.

The trick to this particular rice bucket forearm workout drill is to only allow your lower arms to move. Don’t turn this into an internal and external rotation exercise by involving your shoulders in the movement.

Instead, pin the working arm to the side of your body. From there, rather than making a first, this time, you’re going to extend your fingers fully and press your fingers together. This allows you to “stab” into the rice effectively.

So, stab into the rice so that your palm is facing you. Then, while keeping your upper arm as still as possible, rotate your forearm so that your palm is now facing away from you. Repeat this motion for 30 seconds, and then move onto your other arm.

4. Explosive grabs

Using a bucket of rice to work your forearms is often considered a rehabilitation or warm-up protocol. However, with some imagination, you can build tremendous forearm power with humble rice training.

This time, you’re going to forcefully stab your hand into the rice. And by this, I mean in a position where your hand is fully extended, i.e., the opposite of a first. Submerge your hand into the rice as far as it’ll go, and then grab the rice in your hand. Finish by letting go of the rice and then removing your hand from the bucket.

The trick with this drill is to perform fast, explosive reps to work the fast-twitch muscle fibers: punch, grab, release, punch, grab, release.

5. Fastball flicks

This drill will improve your pitching and finger strength. It’s virtually identical to the extensions, except we’re just using our first and second fingers. [3]

Begin by placing the tips of your first two fingers into the rice. Then, flick the rice away from you for 30 seconds as if you’re digging a hole. Next, move your hand to the opposite end of the bucket (relative to where you’re standing) and flick the rice toward you for another 30 seconds, again, as if you’re digging a hole.

6. Explosive pinching

Pinching and gripping are two different motions, each of which you should include in your rice workout to enjoy the best effects. By improving your pinching power, you’ll naturally have more control over the ball in your hand because this drill really develops formidable finger strength.

Begin by creating a half-closed hand position, as if you’re holding a baseball. Then, submerge your hand into the rice and perform a fast, repetitive pinching motion. Aim to really squeeze the rice between your fingers on each rep.

You can also perform this drill without fully submerging your hand. The technique is roughly the same. You simply pinch the rice on the surface of the bucket as explosive as you can. Try both and see which version you prefer.

7. Wrist curls

This particular rice exercise is one of the best for developing overall forearm power because you’re working both the forearm flexors and the wrist extensors.

If you want powerful lower arms, then you need to do wrist curls.

Begin by punching your hand into the rice. Then, extend your wrist away from you and squeeze your extensors (top of your forearm). Immediately reverse the motion by flexing your hand toward the underside of your forearm to work your flexors.

Repeat the above motion as rapidly as you can to engage the fast twitch muscle fibers. Keep it going for 30 seconds or until you feel a good amount of forearm fatigue (there’s no need to always train to failure).

Read more: rice bucket exercises for climbing

Rice bucket workout

You can do this rice bucket workout whenever you have a spare 10 minutes. The trick is to perform the motions explosively while getting a full range of motion.

Also, try to perform the exercises until you feel a good forearm burn. However, don’t go overboard and train to grinding failure because this could negatively impact your performance on the field. Save the hardcore training for the weight room. [4]

1: Wrist rotations — 2-3 sets of 30 seconds

2: Explosive grabs — 3 x 20 reps per hand

3: Fastball flicks — 2-3 sets of 30 seconds

4: Wrist extensions — 3 x 30 reps per hand

5: Wrist curls — 2-3 sets of 30 seconds

Conclusion: Is rice bucket training worth your time?

Rice bucket training is very beneficial for baseball players and athletes who rely on their forearms, hands, and fingers for either power or endurance. You can, of course, do specific bucket baseball exercises like fastball flicks, but ultimately, any activity that strengthens the forearms is good for baseball and similar sports.

Feel free to use the rice bucket exercises that I showed you above to create your own workout. While having inspiration can help, sometimes we just need our own custom training program to get the edge that we’re looking for.

References

  1. Wang, L.-H., Lo, K.-C., Jou, I.-M., Kuo, L.-C., Tai, T.-W., & Su, F.-C. (2015). The effects of forearm fatigue on baseball fastball pitching, with implications about elbow injury. Journal of Sports Sciences, 34(12), 1182–1189. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2015.1101481
  2. EBBEN, W. I. L. L. I. A. M. P., HINTZ, M. A. R. I. L. Y. N. J., & SIMENZ, C. H. R. I. S. T. O. P. H. E. R. J. (2005). STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING PRACTICES OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING COACHES. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19(3), 538–546. https://doi.org/10.1519/00124278-200508000-00010
  3. Escamilla, R. F., Ionno, M., deMahy, S., Fleisig, G. S., Wilk, K. E., Yamashiro, K., Paulos, L., & Andrews, J. R. (2011). Comparison of Three Baseball-Specific Six-Week Training Programs on Throwing Velocity in High School Baseball Players. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43(Suppl 1), 836–837. https://doi.org/10.1249/01.mss.0000402330.94220.56
  4. SZYMANSKI, D. A. V. I. D. J., MCINTYRE, J. O. S. E. P. H. S., SZYMANSKI, J. E. S. S. I. C. A. M., MOLLOY, J. O. S. E. P. H. M., MADSEN, N. E. L. S. H., & PASCOE, D. A. V. I. D. D. (2006). EFFECT OF WRIST AND FOREARM TRAINING ON LINEAR BAT-END,CENTER OF PERCUSSION, AND HAND VELOCITIES AND ON TIME TO BALL CONTACT OF HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL PLAYERS. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 20(1), 231–240. https://doi.org/10.1519/00124278-200602000-00038
James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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