Much of the power you generate as an athlete comes from your lower body. No matter if you are running, jumping, sprinting, tackling or even golfing, your big muscles (quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings) are what fuel that power and energy. If you want to get faster and stronger — build stronger leg muscles.
Five Ways to Improve Lower Body Strength and Power:
- Perform more squats. Squats are one of the most efficient ways to improve lower extremity power. Utilize the goblet squat using a dumbbell or kettlebell, or a back squat, front squat or overhead squat using a barbell. Be sure when performing squats to keep your chest and chin up. Drop your hips back and down to where your thighs are at least parallel with the ground.
- Remember the deadlift. The deadlift is a great way to strengthen your lower body and can be performed either using a dumbbell, barbell, or trap bar. Just like the squat, keep your chest and chin up, drop your hips back and down to where your thighs are at least parallel to the ground. Be careful to not bend at the waist to cause unnecessary pressure on the lower back.
- Don’t forget about your hamstrings. When wanting to build lower body strength and power, it is very important to remember not to ignore your posterior chain (hamstrings and lower back). Having a muscle imbalance from the front to the back can cause a higher risk of injury to the athlete. Performing the glute-ham raise, Romanian deadlift, Physioball hamstring curls, back extensions, or hip extensions.
- Get off your feet. To help improve vertical jump and power, follow your knee dominant exercise with an explosive movement that complements the exercise just performed. For example, squat jumps, split squat jumps, and single leg squat jumps.
- Find Balance with Single Leg Exercises. Everyone has a dominant side; therefore, performing single leg exercises allows it not to hide. It is also a great way to improve balance and stability. Single-leg, knee dominant exercises are stepups and single leg squats. Single leg hip dominant exercises are single-leg Romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, and hip extensions.
Be sure to work within the recommended amounts of sets and reps depending on your training goals. Most athletes will work within the Muscular Strength and Muscular Hypertrophy range in order to build power and strength.
Muscle Strength: Heavy weight, 4 sets 5 reps
Muscular Hypertrophy: Moderate to heavy weight, 3 sets 10 reps
Muscular Endurance: Light to moderate weight, 2 sets of 15 reps