In Part 1 we discussed the strength you need to develop in your lower body to set the foundation for explosive training. If you have achieved the strength to weight ratios suggested then read on!
2. Explosive Strength
Once you have established a solid foundation in your leg strength it is time to start using it to generate speed and power.
Power = Force x Speed
This means that the power your legs generate is equal to the amount they can lift multiplied by how quickly they can lift it. For sprinting and jumping the power generated is used to move your body weight as quickly as possible to generate speed or vertical height.
Explosive strength training involves trying to generate as much speed as you can from a static position under load. That load can be as simple as your body weight or you can add weight such as a barbell or weight vest to make it more challenging.
The following two exercises both start from a static loaded position with the aim of generating as much power as possible in a short period of time.
1. SUSPENDED LUNGE JUMPS
Suspension training is a great way to develop explosive strength because it adds an element of instability which helps strengthen the supporting muscles in your legs.
Here I use CrankIt (similar to TRX) straps to suspend my back leg which effectively replicates a split squat. Jumping from a single leg is very common is sports such as parkour and in many cases it is done whilst changing direction and therefore the increased stabilisation required in the knee and hip using the suspension system is very effective. The aim is to start at a static loaded position which is the bottom of the lunge and explode and jump as high and fast as possible. Land on the front foot, reset the position and then explode again. You must come to a stop with each rep. Do not use the rebound of the landing to jump again.
You can make it harder by adding a box in front of you as a target for the jump. As an advanced progression you can also add weight such as a kettlebell in the rack position or a weight vest.
Programming Lunge Jumps:
5 sets x 10-15 reps on each leg
2. WEIGHTED JUMP SQUATS
Jump squats utilise the same method as the lunge jumps – explode upward as fast and high as possible from an active static position. The difference is that it uses both legs and more closely replicates how you would jump in a movement requiring two legs such as a precision jump. One of my favourite exercises for improving vertical leaps is jump squats from a low box. Similar to the video below you begin sitting on a box around knee height and then lean forward and explode up and jump onto a higher box.
Here I demonstrate a simple jump squat from slightly above parallel position using a 10kg weight vest. An advanced progression is to use a barbell in the high bar position but this should only be used on lower boxes and only if you are an experienced athlete.
Programming the Jump Squat:
5 sets x 10-15 reps
Aim to add one explosive session weekly on top of 1-2 squat and deadlift sessions per week to add some speed to your strength development.
In Part 3 I show you how you how to safely introduce plyometric strength training to allow you to develop power as rapidly as possible taking your jump height and sprint speed to a whole new level. Check it out here