Pro Tips

Atlanta Braves All-Star Ender Inciarte Talks Diet and Training

Enciarte is probably the best defensive centerfielder in baseball. Here’s how he primes his body for success on the diamond.

Atlanta Braves All-Star Ender Inciarte Talks Diet and Training
Scott Cunningham / Getty

Since being traded to the Atlanta Braves from the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015, Ender Inciarte has primarily done two things: hit, and prove he’s one of the best defensive outfielders in the big leagues. The Venezuela native enjoyed the best season of his career in 2017, setting highs in hits, batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, RBIs, and stolen bases. So it’s no surprise he was selected to his first All-Star team in 2017, and earned his second-straight Gold Glove. The 27-year-old thinks he’s just scratching the surface of his potential, and that’s why he spent the offseason working hard in the gym—at Disney World, no less—focusing on core workouts, rotational moves, and explosiveness. Here’s how Inciarte trains to patrol the outfield and rob hitters of home runs with ease.

MAGIC KINGDOM ROUTINE

“I did my training for this season in Orlando at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports complex,” Inciarte says. “I worked out five days a week, starting at 7:30 am, Monday through Friday. I’d do two hours of weight work, some type of cardio for an hour or so, then end with some baseball-related training, like hitting or defense, for a couple hours. I alternated days of upper body and lower body, but really, those lower body days were the most important part of the week for me. They helped me build the foundation of strength for my legs.”

ESSENTIAL WARMUPS

“I’ve had a couple injuries with both of my hamstrings in the past,” Inciarte says. “So I always make sure to get to the gym really early and do 40-60 minutes of warmup before my workout. It’s usually a lot of hip movements or I’ll get on the bike. It helps me stay healthy and get ready for weights. I do a lot of forearms, and of course shoulders are super-important for baseball, especially for an outfielder. But you have to be careful—if your shoulders get too tired, then your swing is not the same. So I try to pay attention to all of the big muscles and the little muscles when I'm working out.”

CORE STRENGTH

Inciarte can’t stress enough the importance of a strong core to his success. “If I could do only one exercise to train for baseball, it has to be core moves,” says Inciarte, referring to things like planks, cable crunches, and hanging leg raises (see workout sidebar). “I'll do core almost every day, and if my core is strong, everything else feels strong. When I was with the Diamondbacks, we had an Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer speak, and she talked about how much core she did and how much that helped her succeed. It stuck with me. It’s helped me so much and I always make sure to do core work every day in my routine. I like Pilates too. It really helps my core.”

DEFENSIVE WIZARD

Inciarte is one of the most skilled defensive players in baseball, and it’s because he puts in the work on the field. “I do drills before every game during batting practice,” Inciarte says. “I work a lot on my first jump step, which I think is the most important part for any outfielder. I work on my reaction time and quickness. It’s my goal to always get to the ball while standing, and not with a diving catch. If my first step is quick, then everything else is going well. I also do a lot of drills with tennis balls, like taking your eyes off and then trying to pick up the ball.”

HAMMER TIME

Thor actor Chris Hemsworth isn’t the only one working with a hammer these days. “I like hitting the tire with the sledgehammer, because you’re working everything in your body,” says Inciarte. “You use all your muscles on the swing, and once you hit the tire, you’re working your wrists, forearms, and shoulders, and you just keep everything stronger. I love doing that before going out and hitting. It’s like a warmup, a pre-swinging session. I’ll also tie a rope to the tire and do explosive sprints, which are great for my hamstrings and glutes.”

POWER SURGE

“Leg work is the most important part for me,” Inciarte says. “For baseball, that’s where you get the most power. If you’re swinging, running, or throwing, and you have good legs, you’ll have a lot of power. Last year I was completely healthy, and a big part of that was due to strengthening my lower body in the offseason. I was really skinny early in my career, and gaining good weight has helped me gain power.”

SPEED FREAK

Inciarte is such a stopper in the outfield because of his dazzling quickness. “Speed for me is like my life in baseball,” Inciarte says. “So you have to balance that with the power, because if you add too much weight, you get away from your speed. This offseason I really found a good balance. I did a lot of running, functional movements, and hip work every single day for my speed. When you're able to move well, you can do everything the next day. You don’t feel any soreness or pain.”

HOME-COOKED FUEL

“My family was with me during the offseason, and they cooked my meals to help me stay fit,” says Inciarte. “For breakfast, I’d have egg whites with natural juices; for lunch and dinner, usually salmon and grilled chicken; and in between, protein shakes and snacks. It all depends on how my body feels. I'm actually not a big eater, like I'm not hungry all the time, but I gotta force myself to eat because I can lose weight quickly. I like to eat a lot of rice. I combine that with protein, and that was always great for me. I have my cheat days for sure. I’ll have arepas, one of my favorite Venezuelan foods.”

ALL-STAR GLOVEWORK

“It was fun and special for me to go to the All-Star Game and win my second Gold Glove,” Inciarte says. “In the outfield, I tell myself to have happy feet, because I want to have that quick movement and reaction. Some guys get flat-footed, and so I work on that in the offseason too—lots of agility drills and foot reaction time to get to the ball as quick as possible.”

IN-SEASON CONDITIONING

“You can’t work out every day during the season, so I try to listen to my body,” Inciarte says. “A lot of people work out before games, but I don’t like to do that. I’ll do a little bit of conditioning work every day. It helps me stay consistent and strong. By the end of the year, a lot of the guys are wearing out. When everybody's getting tired, you're getting stronger. You're up for a really strong finish.”

Ender’s Core Routine

Try this workout that Inciarte developed with the Braves training staff.

  • Kneeling Cable Crunch:4 sets of 20
  • Med Ball Plank: 4 sets of 60 sec.
  • Side Plank: 4 sets of 60 sec. (each side)
  • Lateral Band Rotation: 4 sets of 15 (each side)
  • Kneeling Med Ball Woodchop: 4 sets of 15 (each side)
  • Stability Ball Core Rotation w/ Dumbbell: 4 sets of 15 (each side)
  • Hanging Leg Raise: 4 sets of 12
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