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A box jump exercise
2 Credits

Lower Body Power Exercises

Lower body power and high velocity exercises - best progressions for box jumps, depth jumps, long jumps, bodyweight jumps, and a sample lower body power routine.

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush

DPT, PT, MS, CPT, HMS, IMT

Course Summary: Lower Body Power Exercises

This course discusses variations, progressions, and regressions of lower body power exercises. This includes bodyweight leg exercises, unilateral leg exercises, glute, hamstring, and quadricep high-velocity training, techniques for improving hip power and hip drive, etc. It is essential for athletes to move beyond leg conditioning workouts (e.g. step-ups, lunges, and split squats), leg strength and lower body strength training (e.g. deadlift, goblet squat, sumo squats, back squats, etc.), and leg muscle group-specific exercises (e.g. leg extensions and leg curls). Increasing power requires the integration of exercises designed to maximize the rate of force development (RFD), maximally benefit from the stretch-shortening cycle, and increase the velocity of all muscle groups involved in a lower body movement pattern. This course includes detailed directions for cueing the appropriate starting position; for example, ideal foot placement (e.g. feet hip width or shoulder width), the distance between right foot and left foot in a staggered stance, ideal right leg and left leg position during unilateral hopping drills, or ideal pelvic and trunk position during box jumps. This course also includes cues for better recruitment of core muscle groups, cueing for optimizing hip muscle recruitment, ideal resistance for improving velocity, and suggested variations for those with limited hip mobility.

This course includes a systematic research review and evidence-based recommendations for optimizing lower-body power exercises. Here is a very truncated summary of those recommendations:

  • Max Velocity: Load should be limited to what can be moved with max velocity.
  • Eccentric Load: Power exercise must include a quick eccentric contraction. Increasing the eccentric demand of an exercise is recommended when possible for power exercises (e.g. higher depth jump).
  • Amortization phase: NEVER purposefully allow weights to touch the floor, bounce off racks, or pause during this phase of power exercise (and, it is also not recommended during strength training for power athletes). A goal of power training should be to shorten the amortization phase as much as possible.
  • Concentric Load: Ensure that any increase in load of a power exercise, increases the load during the earliest part of the concentric contraction. Increasing load at the end of a contraction with apparatus like bands and chains may negatively alter the force/velocity curve of power exercise.
  • Quick Intent: Research has demonstrated that repeated attempts with the intent to produce force quickly may be more important to developing force than the actual shortening and lengthening of the musculotendinous unit.
  • Follow Through: Follow through (letting go, leaving the ground, etc.) increases EMG activity, peak and average force, peak and average velocity, congruence with the force/velocity curve, and kinematics, and is likely to result in larger improvements from training.
  • Soft Landing/Catching: Softer landing/catching reduces reaction forces, by distributing force over a longer amount of time, and a larger range of motion. This may decrease the wear and tear inherent in high-intensity training.
  • Olympic Lifts: Olympic lifts are likely less effective than high velocity/ballistic exercise, and potentially less effective than max strength exercise, for improving power performance for most athletes.

Further, this course is pre-approved for credits toward the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) Certification, and pre-approved for continuing education credits for movement and sports medicine professionals (personal trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, athletic trainers, massage therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, etc.). We hope this course inspires the inclusion of power training into programs for fitness, performance, and physical rehabilitation. For example, total leg workouts for fitness enthusiasts (e.g. inclusion of lower body power exercises), lower body power training for jumping athletes (e.g. depth jumps for basketball players), or improving reactivity and function in the elderly population (e.g. progressing to a lateral hop to single leg balance).

Additional Progression Courses:

Strength Progressions

Core Progressions

Power Progressions

Sample Progression: Exercise Selections

  • Max Power
    • Counter-Movement Jump
    • Box Jump
    • Depth Jump
    • Tuck Jump
  • Power and Control
    • Single-Leg Box Jump
    • Lateral Hop to Single-Leg Jump to Balance
    • Lateral Hop to Single-Leg Box Jump
    • Ice Skaters
    • Multi-planer Skaters
  • Power Stability
    • Hop down to balance
    • Hop down to single-leg touchdown to balance
    • Jump rope in a box

Sample Routine

Goal: Lower Body Max Strength/Power (Post-activation Potentiation Circuits)

Acute Variables:

  • Load: (Heavy > 85% of 1-RM) (Light < 30% of 1-RM)
  • Reps/set: (1-5)(3-10)
  • Sets/exercise (circuits): 2-6 circuits
  • Rest between exercises: 1-2 minutes (note, exercises performed in circuit)
  • Training Time: 20 – 45 minutes (excluding warm-up).

Post-activation Potentiation (PAP) Circuit Routine:

Study Guide: Lower Body Power Exercises

Introduction

Research Corner

5 sub-categories

Power Exercise Selection and Form

Videos

video

Max Power Exercise

3 sub-categories

Power Exercises with Emphasis on Control

5 sub-categories

Power Stability Exercises

3 sub-categories

Bibliography

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