In Part 2 we discussed the explosive strength you need to add speed to your lower body strength work. Once you have done a minimum 4 weeks of explosive work it might be time to start experimenting with plyometric training.
Similar to a spring or an elastic band, your leg muscles are able to stretch and rebound with a greater force than they can from a static position. If you have ever wondered why you can jump higher one with a run up it is because if that exact reflex action. Jumping and sprinting both involve the build up of elastic energy in your muscles and tendons with an explosive contraction that causes your body to propel forward or upwards.
Plyometric training is an awesome way to develop a powerful rebound and elastic strength in your muscles. Here are two of my favourite exercises to develop plyometric strength:
1. HEAVY KETTLEBELL SWINGS
The muscles of your posterior chain, the calves, hamstrings and glutes, are primarily responsible for your sprinting and jumping performance and kettlebell exercises are some of the best out there for posterior chain development.
For heavy swings aim for shoulder height with arms parallel to the ground. If you feel that you could swing the kettlebell overhead simply go heavier. If you a beast and can swing the heaviest kettle bells in your gym (typically 48-50kg) for 10 or more reps then you can progress to double kettlebell swings. Just widen your stance a little bit and bend if needed to allow the extra clearance.
Programming Kettlebell Swings:
– Go heavy for strength development
– 5 sets x 5-10 reps at about 0.5 x bodyweight (a 24-32kg kettlebell for ladies and 40-48kg for guys should work well)
2. SLED SPRINTS
This one is pretty obvious. If you want to sprint faster, do sprints. The only problem with sprints for athletic development is that they plateau pretty quick like most body weight exercises. That is when you need to consider leverage or additional load to push through the barrier and increased your speed. Here I have used a loaded sled to slow down the sprint intervals and make me work harder. Start with just the sled and get used to the feeling before adding weight. Make sure you warm up properly too because it puts a huge load on your muscles.
Programming Sled Sprints:
– Start with just the sled and add weight incrementally each set
– 20 sprints x 20 metres
– Start with the sled (about 30-50kg normally) and build up to around bodyweight (including sled) for your 10th sprint
– Reverse the pyramid for sprints 11-20 by gradually reducing the weight back down to the sled only
Putting it all together
Now that you have a solid strength foundation and have developed speed and plyometric strength you can start experimenting with it in your weekly programming. For max results I recommend:
- 1 x squat session per week (about 30 mins)
- 1 x deadlift session per week (about 30 mins)
- 1 x explosive session per week (about 30 mins)
- 1 x plyometric session per week (about 30 mins)
In just 2 hours per week you will see huge improvements in your vertical leap, broad jump and sprint speed with these exercises.
If you have any questions add them below and I will be more than happy to help you out. And if you improve your jump or sprint speed with these exercises tag @movementco on Instagram or check in on Facebook and let us know!