MIKE TROUT makes playing baseball look easy. The Angels' centerfielder, 24, has finished each of his four full years in the majors as runner-up for the American League MVP Award—except for 2014, when he won it. That performance starts with his off-season workouts with Millville, N.J.--based trainer Dan Richter.
According to Richter, Trout's body doesn't need to be built up any further, only maintained. "When he first made the majors, I remember him having the most work to do in the off-season. We worked a lot on strength because he was, in my eyes, a little bit too bulky," Richter says. "The last couple years, we've pushed the power and strength to the point that I think he's just where he wants to be." This is not merely an estimate. The 6'2" Trout says his ideal playing weight is between 238 and 240 pounds; this spring training Trout weighed in at 239.
The biggest challenge for Richter is keeping the easily bored Trout interested. Therefore Trout's 90-minute workouts six days a week make up a regimen, but not a routine. "I keep it fresh," Richter says. "It's different workouts every day. We do everything from power and endurance to speed and agility to plyometrics to power moves, because that's the way to keep him best engaged."
"We do so many different things during the off-season," Trout says, "it never gets stale."
The other key to Richter's approach is competition. "Mike hates to lose, at anything," Richter says. "It doesn't matter if it's treadmill racing." Richter has Trout bring his friends along and makes them face off in various exercises. He also tracks Trout's weights and times and uses them to challenge Trout to do better. But Richter's most effective technique is challenging the weaker points in Trout's previous season. This off-season, Richter's motivational jabs were about Trout's speed (sidebar).
After a slow start, Trout has taken off and is now batting .313 with seven homers, though he still has just two steals through 31 games. But the swipes will come, because Trout is once again in the best shape of his life.
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This winter Mike Trout and Dan Richter spent 45 minutes on speed and agility drills three days a week, and Trout has worked with third base coach Ron Roenicke to improve his leads and jumps. "As long as I find the aggression I had in my rookie year, my numbers will go up," Trout said.
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Place a weight faceup on the turf and get in a runner's position with both hands on the plate. Push the plate 25--30 yards as fast as possible, then go back. Do 10 circuits, and start with a 25- or 35-pound plate and work up to 45.
Walk for two minutes, then jog for another two. After that, increase the speed until you're sprinting and sustain for 30 seconds to one minute. After the sprint, do a series of squat jumps before repeating the treadmill sequence. As you improve, increase walk, jog and sprint duration and add incline to the treadmill.
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JASON MILLER/GETTY IMAGES (TROUT)
ILLUSTRATIONS BY MARTIN LAKSMAN