Behind the Body: Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer hits the weights

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Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer wears number 31 on his uniform. This year that also happens to be his age. For Scherzer, though, the number isn't what matters, thanks to an extreme dedication to strength and conditioning.

Scherzer, a 6' 3", 215-lb righthander, crushes the weight room during the offseason and keeps up the lifting while juggling a physically demanding in-season schedule. His complex strength-training program combines a solid, evenly spread combination of upper- and lower-body training, mixed with cardiovascular work. It is clearly a recipe for success.

The St. Louis-born Scherzer made his big-league debut with the Diamondbacks in 2008, after being drafted in the first round by Arizona. Traded to the Tigers in 2010, he went on to win the 2013 AL Cy Young before coming to the Nationals this season.

A three-time All-Star and two-time AL wins leader, Scherzer recently provided with a look inside his health and fitness regimen, and its contribution to his achievements on the mound.




31 years old


215 lbs.

Workout location during the off-season: “I train on my own starting December 1, and then at Fischer Sports [in Phoenix] starting January 1.”

Details of typical off-season workout: “I'm lifting four times a week, separating upper and lower [body].”

Monday—heavy lower body: Squats, RDLs, box jumps, and various leg lifts. “Main thing is to push the squats to the heaviest weight possible. I start at two sets of eight and try to get to four sets of 10 before spring training. I set the goal of getting to 365 lbs. on the fourth set in the middle of spring training.”

Tuesday—heavy upper body: Dumbbell bench, dumbbell rows, lat pull downs, scapula work, shoulder circuit, biceps, triceps, forearms and abdominals.

Thursday—lower body: Lunge circuit, step-ups, hamstring curls and explosive movements.

Friday—upper body: Pushups, double arm row machine, one to two additional back exercises, shoulder circuit, biceps, triceps, forearms and abdominals.


Details of typical in-season workout: Day 1—heavy legs: Squats and power lifts; 30-plus-minute run.

Day 2—bullpen/upper body: Chest, back, lats, shoulders, biceps, triceps and forearms.

Day 3—light lower body: Lunges, step-ups, explosive movements, abdominal and core circuit; distance running mixed with sprints.

Day 4: Rest.

Day 5: Pitch.

Favorite workout/body part: Squats. “They’re tough, but they’re so worth it. If I can squat heavy and not get sore the next day, I know my legs are strong.”

For decathlon king Ashton Eaton, training means always going for more

Strongest muscle group: Back. My back is probably the strongest part of my body. I also put the most work into it because all those muscles support my shoulder in so many ways.”

Most flexible muscle group: Right shoulder. “You have to have great external and internal rotation to keep your arm healthy.”

Recreational activities and active rest: “I play a lot of golf in the offseason. I also love to take vacations where I can scuba dive.”

Favorite workout tunes: Hip-hop. “New and old.” 

On nutritional intake: “I wouldn't call myself the healthiest person when I eat but I really try hard not to eat badly—avoid fast food, soda, desserts, etc. And when I try and eat healthy, I go to Chipotle.”

Favorite pregame meal: Big roast beef and Swiss cheese sandwich. “I have it every time before a start.”

Guilty pleasure: Chicken wings