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Angels' Mike Trout stays one of baseball's best the old way: lots of work

Mike Trout on what makes him Mike Trout: hard work, box jumps and no candy

In the old days, baseball players were famous for partying in the off-season, arriving at spring training 30 pounds overweight and playing themselves into shape. Not today. Superstars like Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout, a three-time All-Star named the American League's most valuable player in only his third year in the big leagues, seriously train in the winter. Here, the 6-foot-2, 238-pound phenom from Millville, N.J., explains how he stays rock-solid all year round.

Why train at all? You're 23, a natural talent. Mickey Mantle, who old-timers compare you to, never lifted a weight.

Today you need every advantage you can get, and fitness is key to performance and injury prevention. You need to rebuild your strength in the off-season, work on your speed and agility and conditioning. Kids even know it, which is why I started going to the gym in seventh and eighth grade. I formally got a trainer when I was drafted by the Angels in 2009 — hired my high school trainer, Dan Richter, to work me in the off-season. Dan knows how to push me, take my workout to the next level and watch my form so that I don't get hurt.

What exercises do you do?

Dan's plan is based on what the Angels recommend. After taking two weeks off after the season ends, I go back home for the winter and work out six or seven days a week for about 90 minutes a day, early in the morning. Every day is different. On a treadmill, I'll do four or five all-out one-minute sprints, taking four or five minutes in between to recover with a fast walk. ... Legs and hips, not upper body, are generally the focus, since we run in this game and swing a bat, which comes from the core.... To keep my back strong, posture straight and bat swing fast, I'll do several sets of 25 pull-ups, which is a key exercise along with squats. I'll do sets of 30 body-weight squats to get me ready for the highlight of my workout: box jumps.

People rave about your box jumps. You posted an Instagram of an amazing 5-foot jump. No wonder you've robbed more than a few people of home runs.

Box jumps work it all — strength, power, core and the explosiveness you need at the plate and in the field, like in jumping to catch a fly ball. In fact, since a 50-inch box jump is easy for me, I'll hold a 25-pound dumbbell in each hand to ramp it up. I'll do box jumps several times a week in different ways — in between 10 30-second treadmill sprints or jumping sideways on four boxes that Dan arranges in a circle pattern.

Do you do these same workouts in season?

No. During the season, I do a light workout before games with no box jumps, no sprints. It's all about maintaining fitness. I'll run for 15 minutes. Instead of weights, I'll do mobile stuff, lots of stretching, lots of stretch-band work — curls, presses, etc.

Do you do anything special on diet? Hydration is big for me, as I've always had trouble with cramping in my calves and hamstrings. ... As for food, I'm eating better and better. My parents taught me to eat my greens, but I always was meat, meat, meat. Now I'm more balanced, eating protein and vegetables — and staying away from the candy.

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