Baseball's Phenom Trains Smartly
ANAHEIM -- To be Mike Trout's trainer, you have to be a little resourceful. Sometimes the tallest box isn't quite tall enough, so you have to rest it on a 12-inch platform. Or that giant tire just isn't heavy enough, so you have to throw 310 pounds worth of dumbbells inside of it.
"You have to take the exercises you take with a normal person and make it that much more, because he's that gifted," said Dan Richter, owner of PDR personal-training services. "He keeps making me think outside the box."
Richter is a longtime athletic trainer at Millville High School in South Jersey, where Trout is immortalized. Shortly after Trout went pro, Richter was hired to train him personally during the winter, entrusted with sculpting the body of a man -- of a kid -- who could one day go down as one of the greatest ever.
Trout is the only professional athlete Richter trains.
"It's kind of a letdown after he leaves, because you have to go back to the normal athletes," Richter said, laughing. "He's special. I have to tone it down with some of my other people, because it's not Trout."
A couple of snippets from Trout's workouts quickly went viral.
In January 2014, there was "The Box Jump" -- a stand-still vertical leap that took Trout up to 54 inches off the ground. Richter said he got the tallest box and placed it atop another 8-12-inch platform, because Trout wanted to see if he could. It wound up being just shy of the 55-inch box jump Bryce Harper recently posted -- though the Angels' center fielder may have caught up by now.
Trout posted it on his Instagram page and got nearly 18,000 likes.
Trout never maxes out on his weights, so Richter can't tell you what his limit is on a bench press or a squat rack. Most of his workouts have a little bit more functionality to them -- like hurling a medicine ball from a batting stance and sprinting after it, or exploding off a push-up position and into a pull-up.
With Trout, Richter aims for equal parts power and explosiveness, a balance that took time to figure out. Coming off his historic rookie season in 2012, Trout reported to Spring Training a little too bulky, weighing a reported 241 pounds -- about 10 pounds heavier than normal -- and looking too much like an NFL fullback.
"That one year we did too much stuff," Richter admits. "We were still getting to know each other a little bit. Now we know what he needs, and I know what I can do with him, when and where. I think every year we get it better. I'm excited to see what 2016 brings."
The focus this offseason is endurance, so that Trout can continue to feel strong and fresh throughout the season. His career OPS in August (.885) and September (.918) pales in comparison to the otherworldly marks of June (1.044) and July (1.052), and Richter hopes better stamina leads to stronger finishes.
"My goal is to have him have that same strength and power and explosiveness that he had Day 1, at the start of the season, to hopefully that last World Series game," Richter said. "And then to stay injury-free."
Richter, who still works full time at the local high school, trains Trout at a medical fitness facility in Vineland, New Jersey. They start in late November, initially going only two to three times a week. Then, right after the new year, they train almost every day for 60 to 90 minutes, breaking the workouts up into five installments.
There's a core day.
Then endurance training.
Power and explosiveness --- Richter's favorite.
And then a recovery day, which usually involves shooting hoops or throwing a football.
Trout trains at 9 p.m. ET so that he's getting ramped up right around the time games would start on the West Coast. The time slot also keeps him from drawing a crowd at the gym, which could be dangerous.
"I call it 'The Trout effect,'" Richter said, "because you'll see people at the gym trying to imitate stuff. It's not always a good idea. Just because Trout does it doesn't mean it's a good exercise for you."
Richter believes "there was always this perception that baseball players didn't work out in the offseason, and that perception is changing."
Now, the Angels' social-media team wants to try to compile more footage, so the public can continue to savor Trout's impressive feats of strength.
Said Richter: "Don't be surprised if you see more in the future."