Sportress of Blogitude

Bryce Harper details process behind how he came in to camp so ripped


A common theme of any discussion, commentary or column about Bryce Harper essentially begins and ends with how much more buff and muscular he looks, primarily in the upper body area.

To put it mildly, the Washington Nationals superstar outfielder looks jacked, his arms resemble tree trunks. Fellow outfielder Denard Span said Harper “looks like Brian Urlacher out there playing left field.”

But to hear Harper explain the causes and reasons behind his new, more muscular physique, it makes some semblance of sense. Harper, a huge workout nut and gym rat, didn’t curtail his activities, particularly his weightlifting, despite the fact he couldn’t exercise the lower half of his body after undergoing surgery on his left knee to deal with a pesky bursa sac.

So, if Harper was going to be hitting the gym at all, each and every workout Harper did during the offseason would have to focus entirely on his upper body.

Harper explained his “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” workout routine during an appearance on 106.7 The Fan (via D.C. Sports Bog):

“I didn’t really have a lower body for two months,” Harper said, talking about his rehab from knee surgery. “It was like I was in a wheelchair trying to just do the upper body. So I’d go to the gym and only be able to work my upper body. I’d get bored during the day, go to the gym. That’s what I like to do, I like to lift. I work my ever-loving tail off in the gym. My workouts are very hard. I go to the gym night and day, two, three hours in the gym — and I really, really work hard. I really pride myself on going to the gym and working hard and doing it every single day and not taking a day off. That’s what I do, going there and working hard and getting ready for the season.

“I want to be ready when I get [to spring training],” Harper continued. “And then lifting during spring training also and putting on weight and things like that. Coming here I’m able to work my lower half finally, and that’s nice, being able to go in and work my lower half and get squats in and do the things that I need to do to get my lower half stronger. But like I said, the first two months of the offseason all I had was my upper body and that’s all I could do. So, I came in pretty big this year.”

Big, indeed. Hardly surprising, given his near-obsessive need to lift weights and work out, as detailed in a writeup about Harper’s offseason routine in The Washington Post:

He loves weight lifting, he loses weight quickly (10-15 pounds last season) and knows he has a long nine-month, 162-game regular season ahead.

After the playoffs ended, Harper went home to his parents’ house in Las Vegas and took a month off. He started lifting again in mid-November. Harper set his alarm for 4:50 a.m. four times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday), was up by 5 and drove to a training facility in Las Vegas by 5:30 to join a group of minor league and major league players.

No mention of to what extent Girl Scout cookies were utilized to refuel after such a grueling workout regimen. Because we all know Harper is “PED FREE” and proud of it. His t-shirt says so.

Ultimately, how much of an impact Harper’s new physique will have on his productivity on the field remains to be seen. Baseball players, it seems, more than other athletes, run the risk of becoming too musclebound, negatively impacting their performance. Despite the larger biceps and upper body, Harper doesn’t appear to have overdone it to any great extent.