Being powerful not only helpful for an athlete, it’s really a necessity and power starts with the lower body. You probably have seen Olympic lifts like the hang clean and snatch on You Tube, commercials and probably at your local gym. While these exercises are great at developing strength and power if performed correctly, they are certainly not required to improve your lower body power. So if you are looking to improve your lower body power without performing any Olympic lifts, here are some basic exercises you can do with minimal equipment or space necessary.
1. Box Jumps
There are plenty of variations of a standard box jump that you can perform. Performing a box jump properly requires maximizing the stretch-shortening cycle. The stretch shortening cycle is way the body can increase the force and power a muscle can produce by efficiently transferring energy through different types of muscle contractions. Box jumps are great for improving vertical leaping ability and helps increase lower body power.
How to Perform a Box Jump:
-Set up a box at an appropriate height
-Stand in front of the box
-Perform a counter movement by swinging your arms back and bending your knees
-Explode and jump up onto the box landing softly and control the landing by going into a mini squat
Bounding is a great exercise to improve power and stability. This is one of my favorite exercises to use with runners because it emphasizes single leg movements similar to running.
How to Bound:
-Start on your right leg
-Jump forward and land on your left leg, stick the landing
-Continue forward by jumping off your left leg and landing on your right
3. Scissor Jumps
Scissor jumps are another way to work on lower body and vertical jumping power. This exercise can be performed with or without weights (if you are new, we recommend no weights). If you are going to use weights you can hold a medicine ball, dumbbells or plates.
How to Perform Scissor Jumps:
-Stand in a lunge or split squat position (one leg forward one back). You should have a slight bend in both knees.
-Push off the ground with both legs to jump as high as you can
-Switch your leg position while you are in the air (if your right leg started in the back it should be in the front when you land)
-Absorb the landing by bending both knees so your finished position mimics the starting position (only the legs have switched positions).
About the author:
Dr. Kevin Prue PT, DPT, CSCS is a graduate of Duke University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. He is the president and director of Prue Physical Therapy & Sports Performance (www.pruept.com) located in Cary NC. He specializes sports and orthopedic physical therapy, sports performance training and injury prevention for youth and recreational athletes.