Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Power Development and Lower Body Strength

I thought I'd share some of the power development and lower body strength work I use in the weight room. It looks like nothing special, but when you get athletes to do these very well, it goes beyond being special. I like a blend of double and single-leg strength work, and not selling out to one or the other: both have their advantages.

Olympic Lifts
-Power Clean
-"Full" Clean (catching the weight deep regardless of %)
-Hang Clean: I use this less. Sometimes in-season or athletes in need of specific modifications
-Power Snatch
-"Full" Snatch
-Hang Snatch: I use this more with taller athletes/basketball players.

*Rarely do I we do any pulls (clean pulls, snatch pulls) except out of necessity (wrist/shoulder/etc.) because I feel the sense of urgency in the pull is lost when you don't complete the entire lift, plus the receiving position has tremendous positives too.
-Push Jerk
-Split Jerk: we make sure to get athletes to alternate legs forward; nice for developing the obvious of power, but also the eccentric strength/power on one leg.

-Squat Jumps (loaded)
-Step-up Jumps
-Split-Squat Jumps

*We'll do different squat jump variations, using both a barbell and dumbell, as well as with the split-squat and step-up jumps.

*I very rarely use dumbbells for Olympic lift variations. While they might look cool, they seem to be an exercise in purgatory; suffering with little accomplishment. They don't provide the load to necessitate much strength, speed, or power... unless one is throwing the dumbbell as high as possible on a D.B. Snatch.

Lower Body Strength
-Back Squat
-Front Squat
-Overhead Squat: We do it everyday we lift with an empty bar or light load. If it can be used as a good assessment, we'll use it as a drill for the range-of-motion (ROM) it offers.
-Goblet Squat: Usually with a heavy dumbbell; challenging to the deepest muscles down to the pelvic floor because of the constant tension of holding the d.b. in place.

*We only use the clean position for front squats, as it stays consistent with our Olmpic lifting and I think it does some great things for wrist extension, shoulder (scapula) and upper back strength.

*All squatting is done with the athlete getting deep, while maintaining starting spine position. We don't lift like robots, but I try to teach them to brace the torso and lift with the legs.

-Barbell Deadlift: I am changing the name to "life"-lift, because I am tired of the screams of horror when I say we are going to "dead"-lift.

-Snatch-Grip Deadlift
-Romainian Deadlift: barbell and dumbbells (heavy).
-Single-D.B. Deadlift: Use this on rare occasions for reps of asymmetrical loading
-Suitcase Deadlift: Same reason as above.

*I use both double and single-leg variations, with probably a 2:1 towards double leg. I feel that pulling strength is important and helps balance out all the pushing done by the knees, and teaches bracing quite well.

Lunge/Single-Leg Squatting
-Reverse Lunge: sometimes elevating the front leg for greater ROM
-Walking Lunge
-Lateral Lunge: usually hold a dumbbell in a "goblet" position, more for a variation and stretch.
-Step-ups: variation in box height for different emphasis. I like high-box step-ups for hitting the hip joint and the deep ankle dorsiflexion.
-Bulgarian split-squats
-Single-leg Squats or Pistols: I find these useful for eccentric strength and control, plus the nice triceps surae eccentric stretch.

*The lunge variations can be loaded with barbells (back, front, and overhead position; same here as squatting, we use the clean position for the bar in front), 2 d.b.'s or 1 d.b. for asymmetrical loads (goblet, overhead, shoulder, side positions). I really like the front positions of load as it seems to get the athletes to bring their hips through the movement minus any tendancy to lumbar extension. But I do like the back positions for the purpose of the deeper eccentric hip work.

*Also, I do not like the alternating lunge in-place because I've noticed the negative effective (knee issues), and it seems to be a glorified closed-chain leg extension when returning to the start position.

Remember this is a very small component of what we do, as I feel it's important to keep the weight room used for what it is meant to be: a place to get stronger. Fancy circus tricks are to be left for those performers, as the elephant in a circus said to a naked man, "it's cute, but can it pick up peanuts?"

The application is a combination of different sets and reps, loading (progressive), organization, and the different variations depending on many factors, beyond the time I have of today.

It's also important to remember that while the forces applied in sport aren't always vertical (like the basics I've mentioned above) in reference to ground reaction, however within the body as the frame of reference they usually are vertical, and that is the purpose of the weight room: to strength the body to handle those forces. It's always a matter of getting behind the center of gravity and driving it vertically in reference to the body, it's just often times we purposely temporarily put that center of gravity outside our body to either decelerate it or push it in another direction... of course there are horizontal forces that occur, but these I feel are better prepared for with high velocity athletic movement on the court, field, or ice.
Mladen Jovanović provides a more detailed perspective: Frame of Reference

The one sport that is unique as far as forces go is swimming, but Carl Valle had an excellent post today on some of his thoughts with loading the body of a swimmer: More Absolutes?

... and all this is why the weight room work doesn't need to be stupid with limited value exercises; the whole purpose is to strengthen the body generally. The more specific actions come beyond the weight room, which is where the majority of our training takes place: sprinting, jumping, agility, crawling, and throwing/catching; all the great stuff that Jeremy Frisch does such a fine job of promoting.



Josh Leeger said...

Great post Aaron!

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