The ULTIMATE 8-Week Training Program for a Higher Vertical Jump

The Vertical Jump is a benchmark test to help determine athleticism and power.  No matter what your sport, athleticism and power are the absolute keys to your success.  There are a myriad of different exercises and programs out there that promise a higher vertical in a short amount of time.  The truth of the matter is that, no matter what plan you focus on, there are no short cuts.  Ultimately, an athlete’s ability to defy gravity and powerfully get of the ground comes down to three things:

  1. Their total body strength to weight ratio
  2. The rate of force development (RFD)
  3. The efficiency of their bio-mechanics or jumping technique

RELATED: 3 Tips to Instantly Increase Your Vertical Jump

When it comes to total body strength, while there must be a focus on lower body strength, too many times the core and upper body strength are often ignored as a component of an explosive vertical jump.  For example, studies have shown that 10% – 15% of the vertical jump comes from the arm swing.  In addition the core is incredibly important in not only body control while in the air but also in its ability to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body propelling the entire body upward.

An athlete’s Rate of Force Development (RFD) is another quality that is critical as you work through a plan aiming to improve an athlete’s explosiveness or vertical jump.  Just because you are strong doesn’t necessarily translate to you being explosive.  There are many strong athletes that are slow.  An athletes ability to express their strength quickly is literally the definition of explosive power.  Being strong just isn’t good enough.

Finally, developing good jumping mechanics is all about utilizing physics in your favor.  You must focus on performing quality repetitions of the movements that are critical to the type of jump you want to perfect.  Improving on your jumping mechanics will not only allow you apply an athlete’s explosiveness efficiently but it will also help to prevent injury.  This is a skill that must be practiced until the proper movement patterns and neuro-muscular connections are made.   With that in mind, the list below shows exercises you can use to develop the qualities important to achieve a higher vertical jump and become a more explosive athlete:

  • Strength: Squats, hip extension exercises, Lunges/Step-Ups, even upper-body work
  • Applying strength quickly: Pulls, plyometrics, Medicine Ball Throws
  • Technique: Squats, plyometrics

Some of these exercises may seem surprising. Here is why we focus on them:

  • Pulls: These teach the fast application of strength. They are not nearly as complicated as Power Cleans and Power Snatches.
  • Squats: This essential movement pattern is very similar to jumping. Strengthening these muscles is an important prerequisite to developing power for the Jump.
  • Hip extension exercises: The glutes and hamstrings have to be strengthened, not only to help with the Jump but also to allow for a safe landing.
  • Lunges and Step-Ups: These are included in the program so that you can focus on each leg. This helps to ensure that one leg doesn’t lag behind the other and negatively impact your performance.
  • Plyometrics: Plyometrics are critical because they teach the application of weight room strength and power. This program includes the following types of plyometrics:
    • Hops: These help to develop the ankles and shins.
    • Squat Jumps: Performing a Vertical Jump, but only after holding the bottom squat position.
    • Counter-movement Jumps: The Vertical Jump exercise. It makes sense to practice this in training before attempting it in testing.
    • Box Jumps: The focus is on jumping for height in this program. This is where you jump up to a high box.
  • Upper-body work: The upper body (the arm swing) contributes to Vertical Jump performance, so it’s important to do some upper-body work when focusing on the Vertical Jump.
  • Medicine Ball Throws: The Medicine Ball Throw exercises in this program either develop the jumping motion (like squatting and then throwing the ball behind you) or the upper body to assist with the jump.

Although they’re not included in this program, Kettlebell Swing variations are also a highly effective for helping you jump higher.

Now that we’ve covered the types of exercises, what follows is the eight-week program. It is broken into two blocks of training, each four weeks long. If you aren’t able to commit to a full eight-week plan, here’s a one-week vertical jump program that I created that features many of the elements described above.

Weeks One through Four

This part of the program develops your foundation. The focus is on building a muscle and technique base prior to engaging in the more intense training in the latter four weeks of the program. In this part of the program, you will be training four days a week. The program is divided into two lower-body days and two upper-body days, complete with weights, plyos and medicine ball work.

RELATED: How to Improve Your Vertical Jump Without Jumping

Below is how each workout in the first four weeks should be organized. For each exercise, we show sets x repetitions x the percentage of maximum. When a percentage of maximum is not shown, you should pick a weight that barely allows you to get that number of repetitions. Note that the sets, repetitions and weights shown are for the first week of training.

Day 1

Strength

Plyos

Day 2

Strength

Medicine Ball Exercises

Day 3

Off

Day 4

Strength

Plyos

  • Counter-movement jumps, stick landing: 10x
  • Split cycle jumps: 10x each leg

Day 5

Strength

Medicine Ball Exercises

As the program progresses, the sets, repetitions, and intensities change to what is shown below. Note that plyos are not in the table as their volume should remain constant throughout this part of the program:

Exercise Type Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
Pulls 3×3-6@70% 3×3-6@75% 3×3-6@80% 3×3-6@70%
Squats 3×8-12@70% 3×8-12@75% 3×8-12@80% 3×12-15@70%
Lunges/Step Ups 3×8-12 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×12-15
Hip extensions 3×8-12 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×12-15
Presses 3×8-12@70% 3×8-12@75% 3×8-12@80% 3×12-15@70%
Rows 3×8-12 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×12-15
Shoulder presses 3×8-12 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×12-15

Weeks Five through Eight

This is the more intense phase of the training program. This program takes advantage of complex training—i.e., the combination of strength exercises with power exercises. The idea is that the strength exercise maximally recruits the nervous system and then the power exercise takes advantage of that recruitment. The strength training intensities get pretty high during this phase. The first week is listed below.

Day 1

  • Deadlift + Clean Pull: 3×4-8+2-3@80% of Power Clean
  • Back Squats + Squat Jumps: 3×4-8@80%+10 Jumps
  • Lunges + Split cycle jumps: 3×4-8+5 Jumps each leg
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3×6-10
  • Reverse hyperextensions: 3×6-10

Day 2

  • Bench Press + Medicine Ball Chest Pass: 3×4-8@80% + 10 throws
  • Bent-Over Rows + Medicine Ball Backwards Toss: 3×4-8 + 10 throws
  • Standing Military Press + Medicine Ball Front Toss: 3×4-8 + 10 throws

Day 3

Off

Day 4

  • Snatch-Grip Deadlifts + Snatch Pulls: 3×4-8 + 3-6@80% of Power Snatch
  • Split Squats + Split Jumps: 3×4-8@40% of Back Squat + 5 Jumps, each leg
  • Step-Ups + Box Jumps (to a height): 3×4-8 each leg + 10 Jumps
  • Good Mornings: 3×6-10
  • Single-Leg RDL: 3×6-10 each leg

Day 5

  • Incline Press + Lying Medicine Ball Chest Pass: 3×4-8@80% + 10 throws
  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows + Medicine Ball Side Toss: 3×4-8 + 5 throws each arm/side
  • Standing Kettlebell Press: 3×4-8 each arm

The intensities, sets, and repetitions shown were for week one. As the program progresses, they change as shown in the table below. Note that plyos are not included in this table as the volume remains constant for throughout the program:

Exercise Type Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
Deadlifts + Pulls 3×4-8+2-3@80% 3×3-6+2-3@85% 3×2-4+2-3@90% 3×6-10+3-6@70%
Back Squats 3×4-8@80% 3×3-6@85% 3×2-4@90% 3×6-10@70%
Split squats 3×4-8@40% 3×3-6@45% 3×2-4@50% 3×6-10@30%
Lunges/Step Ups 3×4-8 3×3-6 3×2-4 3×6-10
Hip extensions 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×3-6 3×12-15
Presses 3×4-8@80% 3×3-6@85% 3×2-4@90% 3×6-10@70%
Rows 3×4-8 3×3-6 3×2-4 3×6-10
Shoulder presses 3×4-8 3×3-6 3×2-4 3×6-10

 

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Article was written by John Cissik – A contributing expert to STACK.com

Essentials of Spring Football Training

Dozens of football coaches run their athletes into the ground during the spring to get them into “shape.” The problem is they are so far away from the competitive season, excessive amounts of conditioning will rob their athletes of the strength, power and speed they need in the fall.

Instead of heavy conditioning, spend the spring working on movement ability and speed training, which are the essentials of football training. Speed takes much longer to develop than endurance, and before you can work on speed endurance, it is important to work on peak speed, acceleration and power.

The spring is the perfect time to begin building the fast and physical athletes that a team needs to win football games.

Here is a timeline for movement training in the spring:
  • March: Movement efficiency, linear speed, multi-directional speed, practice
  • April: Movement efficiency, linear speed, multi-directional speed, practice, scrimmages
  • May: Reactive speed (linear), advanced multi-directional speed drills

Strength and Movement

In the early spring, it is important to reset movement patterns in the weight room to decrease injury risk and rebuild athletes’ bodies following a long and hard football season.

Most coaching staffs throw athletes right back into a hard strength program and immediately attack heavy weights. While strength is important and necessary, if athletes build strength upon faulty movements, issues will arise as the season approaches that can lead to serious injuries and lost playing time.

In the early spring, it is important to focus on:

  • Soft tissue work (foam rolling, massage)
  • Movement patterns (corrective exercise, technique emphasis, physical therapy)
  • Stability (core function, balance)
  • Mobility (ankle, hip, shoulder)

Placing early emphasis on these areas will improve athletes’ gains in the spring/summer, decrease injury rates and emphasize proper instruction over a “more is better” approach.

Coaches and athletes should focus on creating stability before mobility. Increased mobility with insufficient stability can lead to injury as athletes reach unsafe ranges of motion for their current motor control.

Here is a timeline for strength training in the spring:

  • February/March: Tissue quality, movement patterns, technique, general preparation training, stability, mobility
  • April: Strength/muscle building
  • May: Strength/maximal strength

Power Training

Spring is the time to establish a proper progression for power training. It’s more than doing Power Cleans and Box Jumps. Teaching athletes how to explode laterally, how to jump from one foot to another, and how to deal with decelerating powerful movements are all important factors in the spring.

Do not merely regard power training as the ability to generate tremendous force into the ground, but also as the ability to generate tension quickly in order to store and use force and not have force negatively impact the body.

Depth Drops teach athletes how to properly land and store energy for improved power and speed. Learning to absorb force in a variety of movements also helps reduce injury.

Teaching the body to absorb force also has an important injury-reduction component. If an athlete isn’t prepared to deal with force in a variety of movements, he can be exposed to increased injury during a football game. Often athletes tear an ACL in a non-contact injury due to improper utilization and absorption of force.

A proper power program not only enhances athleticism, it conditions the body for the speed and aggressive nature of football.

Here is a timeline for Power Training in the spring:

  • March: Depth Drops (double leg), Power Skips, Olympic lift technical drills, Box Jumps, Med Ball Drills
  • April: Single-Leg Hops, Bounding, Olympic Lifts, Skater Jumps
  • May: Double contact jumps, Olympic lifts, Depth Jumps, Reactive Jumps

Spring football training sets the stage for players to maximize their summer training and prepare for the season. With a smart and progressive plan that builds on itself and establishes a variety of movements, strength, power and speed, you can enhance your athletic ability while reducing injury risk.

Read More:

Article was written by Bill Rom – A contributing expert to STACK.com


8 Speed Workout Tips to Get Faster

Today’s athletes are faster, stronger and more explosive than ever. Most sports played today involve short- to mid-range acceleration and physical domination. Therefore, both explosive speed and explosive strength are critical. In addition, deceleration and change of direction are a primary focus. A solid strength program will not only help your performance, it will greatly reduce your risk of injury.

Here are a few tips to help you become a faster athlete.

Tip 1: Learn Proper Technique

The best way to become faster and more explosive is to learn proper technique. Proper technique will make you smoother and more efficient. Proper technique should be used at all levels of speed and strength training. Warm-ups, scrimmages, drills, games—no matter what you’re doing, you should always strive to master proper form and technique.

RELATED: Speed Training

Tip 2: Focus on Critical Lower-Body Muscles

The most important muscles to work on to get faster are the hamstrings, glutes, abs, lower back, hip flexors and obliques. Strengthening those muscle groups will make you stronger, which in turn will increase your horsepower when sprinting to create a more powerful stride.

Tip 3: Train All Aspects of Speed

Becoming a faster and more explosive athlete requires a complete speed training program, including exercises focused on speed, strength, agility, reaction and coordination. All must be trained on a regular basis. Use tools such as short hill sprints, agility ladders, weight training, change of direction, balance and reaction drills as well as form and technique drills.

Tip 4: Drive Your Arms

When running, arm action is often overlooked. The faster the arms move the faster the legs will move. The shoulders and hands should be relaxed and placed in a 90-degree position. Only the shoulders should move, while the elbows and hands remain locked. The shoulder should act as a sort of hinge, moving the arms in a semicircular motion, bringing the hands from the side of the face to the rear of the hip (cheek to cheek).

Tip 5: Have a Balanced Training Program

Your training routine should be balanced. You should work speed training drills, absolute strength (max effort gym work) and dynamic explosive strength two times per week. You can train more than one area in a day, but work each area only twice weekly. You also must consistently change your exercises and drills, as your body will adapt to a specific task rather quickly. The only way you can get better is to challenge your body and mind to master new tasks.

Tip 6: Train Fast to be Fast

To get faster, you must train with high-speed drills. Running miles or repeat 200’s or even or 50’s is not speed training. Speed training should be set up to simulate the game you play. To become fast and explosive, you must train that way. This typically involves short sprints and explosive drills with rest intervals three to five times longer than your work. Sprinters don’t run miles, they run sprints, lift weight and do acceleration drills.

Tip 7: Don’t Static Stretch

Do not static stretch cold muscles. Before you begin a practice, the best way to warm up properly is to use a dynamic warm-up that moves from basic low intensity movements to faster, more explosive movements. You want to simulate movements you will use in practice or games. Stretching cold muscles actually reduces power output. Thus, cold stretching will make you slower and more prone to injury. Any static stretching should be done after your workout, not before.

Tip 8: Do Plyometrics

There is a direct correlation between jumping ability and speed. That’s why you should do plyometrics, or jump training. This type of exercise trains your muscles to fire quickly, which is critical for all aspects of speed. It also teaches you to absorb elastic energy and release it, which improves your overall power output. You can jump for height, distance, off two feet or one foot, but just make sure you’re jumping.

Article was written by Rick Scarpulla – A contributing expert to STACK.com


4 Drills That’ll Help You Become an Elite Running Back

To be an elite running back, you must be able to do it all. An RB who can help with pass protection, avoid turnovers and reliably catch the ball is much more valuable than one whose only skill is taking handoffs. Whether you’re a coach or a player who wants to improve, check out these four drills from the Miami Dolphins and USA Football, all focused on running back skills.

Pass Protection Drills

Many running backs leave the field on third-and-long situations. Why? Because they’re a liability in pass protection. These two drills work on running back pass protection technique.

Simple Punch Drill

  • Line up in an athletic stance—feet slightly wider than shoulder-width, quarter-squat, hands up, head back.
  • Two teammates holding agility bags stand across from you, one lined up on your right shoulder, the other on your left shoulder.
  • On “go,” punch the bag to your right. To deliver a good, solid punch, keep your elbows in and your thumbs up.
  •  After punching the first bag, immediately retract the punch, rotate your torso and deliver a punch to the bag on your left.
  •  Alternate quickly punching the two bags until the end of the drill.
  •  Don’t shuffle between the bags. Instead, pivot your feet and rotate your torso.
  • Make sure to keep your butt down, elbows in and thumbs up throughout the drill.

Two Pass Protection Set Drill

Now that you’ve worked on the punch, it’s time to hit on the move. A good back is expected to pick up blitzes coming from all over the field. This drill works on picking up different blitzes and proper pass pro technique.

  • Set up two agility bags in a gate about 2 yards apart.
  • Start to the left of the gate, about 2 yards back.
  • Two defenders holding bags set up on the other side of the gate, one about a yard back from the gate, the other a yard to the right of the gate.
  • On “go,” step up into the gate and meet the blitzer in the hole. Hit the bag with a firm punch and stop his progress.
  • Immediately retreat to meet the blitzer coming from outside the gate.
  • Deliver a punch to the outside blitzer and shuffle with him as he tries to work outside.
  • Keep a wide base throughout the drill, use good punch technique and hit on the rise.
  • Do this drill from both sides of the gate so you can work on pass protection to both your left and right.

Concentration Drill

A back who can reliably catch the ball adds an important dimension to his game. This drill hones the focus required to snag receptions and trains the agility needed to break tackles and rack up yards after a catch.

  • Set up three agility bags about a yard apart.
  • Line up 5 yards from the bags.
  • One partner with a hand shield stands right in front of the bags; another stands about 6 yards behind them.
  • A quarterback stands off to the side, ready to throw the ball to you.
  • On “go,” runs toward the bags while looking for the ball from the QB.
  • Catch the ball and immediately tuck it away. As soon you catch the ball, partner #1 hits you with the shield.
  • Fight through the contact and run through the agility bags; keep your eyes on partner #2, who will move to the right or the left, simulating a downfield block.
  • Read the block and cut to the opposite side.

Ball Security Gauntlet

You can never be a great back if you’re constantly fumbling the football. This drill helps you learn the technique and skills required to keep the ball secure and avoid turnovers.

  • Start with a football in each hand and a defensive player on either side of you, each with both hands on the ball.
  • Behind the defensive players, five agility bags are set up a yard apart, and two partners with shields stand in front of  them. A third partner sets up 5 yards behind the bags.
  • Employ great ball security technique—keep the ball high and tight and use five points of pressure.
  • On “go,” the two defensive players try to strip the ball away from you for a couple of seconds before allowing you to move forward.
  • Once you get past the two defenders, run toward the bags. As you enters the agility bags, your two partners hit you with their shields.
  • Run through the contact using proper footwork to get through the agility bags.
  • Burst toward partner #3, who will jump to the left or right, giving you a lane the opposite way. Cut off that partner to finish the drill.

Article was written by Brandon Hall – A contributing expert to STACK.com



5 Drills Every Quarterback Should Know

 

Over the years, specialized quarterback training has developed young passers, helping them become more skilled than ever before at throwing the football. With all quarterbacks, consistent, repeatable mechanics are vital to success. Like all things, practice makes perfect; thousands of repetitions are needed to develop the muscle memory requisite to becoming elite. The following drills are both fast-paced and simple enough for even the most inexperienced quarterbacks.

Drop Drill

  • Stand along the sideline with your back to the field.
  • Simulate taking a snap and dropping back to pass.
  • Focus on keeping the ball high and your eyes up as you move.
  • Since you are moving down the length of a yard line, it is easy to tell if you are drifting in your drop.

Pocket Movement

  • Take a three- or five-step drop before hitching up in the pocket, sliding across the pocket, or spinning out to your blind side.
  • Throughout any movement, focus on keeping the ball high and your eyes downfield.

Throwing Progression

  • Kneel on your throwing knee five yards from your partner.
  • Focus on proper mechanics and a smooth release.
  • After ten passes, stand and move back to ten yards. Plant both feet shoulder-width apart, facing your partner.
  • Without moving your feet, twist your torso and make a strong throw.

This QB drill is good for building arm strength because the lower half of the body is not used in the throwing motion. Increase the distance by five yards every five or ten throws, using only your lower body until you can no longer make a good throw without it.

Pat and Go

During this fast-paced warm-up drill, the quarterback simulates a snap and pats the ball with his non-throwing hand, sending a receiver into a predetermined route.

  • Take the appropriate drop and make a strong, accurate throw.
  • Lining up the quarterbacks next to each other allows this drill to move fast.
  • As soon as a pass is thrown, the next quarterback begins his drop.

Routes on Air

  • In this drill, five quarterbacks can work simultaneously.
  • All quarterbacks take an appropriate drop for the play called.
  • Each quarterback is assigned to throw to a specific receiver.
  • Repeat each play so that each quarterback throws every route before moving on to the next play.

This is an ideal way to incorporate as many players as possible into a quarterback drill, avoiding the common problem of players standing around during practice instead of improving.

Article was written by Brad Thompson –  A contributing expert to STACK.com


The Ultimate Off-Season Football Workout Guide, Phase 5: Maximum Power

 

There are only a few weeks left until the high school football season begins, so your football training workouts need to be ramping up and getting you ready to play at game speed. Through the first four installments of my series on off-season football workouts, I have discussed building strength, endurance, stability and increasing lean body mass. (Get caught up by reading Phase 1, Phase 2, Part 3 and Part 4.) Since you have now completed the muscular strength part of your training and your body is at is strongest, it is crucial to take advantage of your new strength by focusing the last phase of your training on power development.

Football is a game of strength, often requiring you to out-muscle your opponent. However, the man who has an ideal combination of strength and power will win out. This power training phase of your pre-season football workouts will condition your body to generate a higher rate of force production. Simply put, you will be able to apply more strength in a faster burst.

Power training uses super-sets, in which you perform a strength exercise followed immediately by a power exercise that works the same body part or plane of motion. Within each super-set, the intensity variables of your lifts will differ between strength to power exercises. Use between 85 to 100 percent of your power during strength exercises and about 30 percent intensity for power exercises. Perform one strength and one power exercise for each major body part, focusing on speed of the bar and amount of force produced. Sets will decrease, but due to the different intensities, you’ll do fewer reps for strength exercises and higher reps for power. Since gaining strength remains a goal of this phase, one to five reps at max weight loads are commonly used.

Having a spotter present is essential. Also, never sacrifice technique to make maximum gains. This will help you stay injury-free.

Phase 5: Power Training

Reps: 1-5 (Strength) (Decrease by two reps per week)
• Sets: 8-10 (Power) Decrease by two reps per week
• Percent of Max: 85-100 percent (Strength) / 10-45 percent (Power)
• Frequency: 2 to 4 times per week
Duration: 3 to 4 weeks
Exercise Selection: 1 Strength and 1 Power per body part or plane of motion

DAY 1

Chest:

  • Barbell or Dumbbell Bench
  • 2 Knee Medicine Ball Power Chest Press

Legs:

  • Barbell Parallel Squat
  • Lunge Jumps

Shoulders:

  • Dumbbell Split Press
  • Resistance Band Standing Reverse Deltoid

Back:

  • Dumbbell Alternating Row
  • Medicine Ball Soccer Throw-ins

Explosive:

  • Kettle Swings

Core and Reactive:

  • Medicine Ball Front Oblique Throws
  • Bear Crawl Sled Pull
  • Depth Jump to 10-yard Sprint

DAY 2

Chest:

  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Close-Grip Bench
  • Total Body Plyo Push Up

Legs:

  • Deadlift
  • Seated Medicine Ball Box Jumps

Shoulders:

  • Dumbbell Front Deltoid Raise
  • Power Shrug

Back:

  • Plank Dumbbell Rows
  • Power Pull-Ups Alternating Grip

Explosive:

  • Hang Clean

Core and Reactive:

  • Medicine Ball Reverse Oblique Throws
  • Later Bear Crawl Sled Pull
  • Depth Jump to Lateral Jump and Sprint

DAY 3

Chest:

  • Dumbbell or Barbell Incline Bench
  • Medicine Ball Rotational Side Chest Pass

Legs:

  • Barbell Front Squat
  • Single-Leg Band Good Mornings

Shoulders:

  • Side-to-Side Jackknife Push-Ups
  • Thera-Band Speed Scaptions

Back:

  • Cable High Pulls
  • Medicine Ball Overhead Throws on Stability Ball

Explosive:

  • Barbell Snatch

Core and Reactive:

  • Standing Band Core Power Rotations
  • Reverse Kick Throughs
  • Back Pedal Turn and Sprint

The Ultimate Off-Season Football Workout Guide, Phase 4: Maximum Strength

 

In previous installments of our series on off-season football workouts, we have discussed building stability, strength and increasing lean body mass. (Read Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 to get caught up.) If you’ve completed the first three phases, you have prepared your body to handle Phase 4, the most intense lifting in this program.

Here, the purpose is simply to develop as much muscular strength as possible to increase overall performance. Football is a game of strength, and you must be able to out-muscle and outmatch your opponent.

The maximum strength phase of your off-season football strength training program will use the same full-body routine. You’ll perform two to three exercises for each major body part,  focusing on maximal intensity—i.e., 90 to 100 percent of your max. Sets increase, but due to the high intensity, you’ll perform fewer reps. Since strength gain is the goal of this phase, one to three reps at max weight loads will be commonly used. Having a spotter present will be essential. Also, never sacrifice technique to make maximum gains. This will help you stay injury-free.

Phase 4: Maximum Strength

  • Reps: 1-5 (Decrease by two reps per week)
  • Sets: 4-6
  • Percent of Max: 85-100 percent (increase by three to five percent per week on each exercise)
  • Frequency: 3 to 4 times per week
  • Duration: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Exercise Selection: 2 to 3 exercises per muscle group

Day 1

  • Chest:
    • Barbell or Dumbbell Bench
    • Single-Arm Physioball Dumbbell Incline Bench
  • Leg:
    • Barbell Parallel Squat
    • Bulgarian Split-Squat
  • Shoulders:
    • Dumbbell Push Press
    • Dumbbell Reverse Deltoid Fly
  • Back:
    • Barbell Bent-Over Row
    • Weighted Chin-Ups
  • Explosive:
    • Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch
    • Plate Cork Screws
    • Plate Bear Crawls
    • Single-Leg Hurdle To Low Box Jump

Day 2

  • Chest:
    • Single-Arm Dumbbell Close-Grip Bench
    • Weighted Tempo (Plyo) Push-Up
  • Legs:
    • Deadlift
    • Goblet Lunge
  • Shoulders:
    • Barbell Split Press
    • Dumbbell Upright Row
  • Back:
    • Single-Arm Bent-Over Alternating Dumbbell Row
    • Single-Arm Lat Pulldown
  • Explosive:
    • Hand Clean
  • Core and Reactive:
    • Standing Med Ball Circles
    • Med Ball Russian Twist
    • Depth Jump to High Box Jump

Day 3

  • Chest:
    • Dumbbell or Barbell Incline Bench
    • Dumbbell Single-Arm Reverse-Grip Bench
  • Legs:
    • Barbell Front Squat
    • Single-Leg Back Extension
  • Shoulders:
    • Side-to-Side Jackknife Push-Ups
    • Dumbbells Scaption to Shrug
  • Back:
    • Standing Cable Row to Neck
    • Single-Arm Inverted Row
  • Explosive:
    • Tire Flips
  • Core and Reactive:
    • Standing Med Ball Russian Twists
    • Weighted Windshield Wipers
    • Short Hurdler Later Jump to Linear High Box Jump

The Ultimate Off-Season Football Workout Guide, Phase 3: Building Lean Muscle Mass

 

After completing Phase 1 and Phase 2 of our football workout, you will have built strength and endurance on a solid foundation. Now, you are ready to build serious lean body mass, increase strength and cut body fat.

In Phase 3, the purpose is clear—build as much lean muscle as possible. The added muscle will enable you to tackle harder, be a better blocker and overpower opponents so you can make plays. Plus, a decrease in fat can increase your speed.

This football workout involves full-body routines with two exercises per major body part. You can achieve a high volume of reps with each muscle group—essential for building lean muscle. Sets and intensity increase as repetitions decrease, compared to previous phases. But single rep maxes are still not a goal in this part of your off-season football program. Never sacrifice technique to make maximum gains. This will help you stay injury-free.

Phase 3: Hypertrophy Training

  • Reps: 6-10 (Decrease by two reps per week)
  • Sets: 3-5
  • Percent of Max: 75-85 percent (increase by three to five pounds per week on each exercise)
  • Frequency: 3 to 5 times per week
  • Duration: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Exercise Selection: 2 to 3 exercises per muscle group

Day 1

  • Chest:
    • Barbell or Dumbbell Bench
    • Physioball Dumbbell Incline Bench
  • Legs:
    • Barbell Parallel Squat
    • Dumbbell Single-Leg Skater Squat
  • Shoulders:
    • Dumbbell Push Press
    • Resistance Band Face Pull
  • Back:
    • Dumbbell Row
    • Side-to-Side Chin-Ups
  • Explosive:
    • Barbell Snatch
    • Plate Cork Screws
    • Alternating Dumbbell Plank
    • Single-Leg Seated Box Jumps (hold landing for one second)

Day 2

  • Chest:
    • Dumbbell Close-Grip Bench
    • Side-to-Side Push-Ups
  • Legs:
    • Deadlift
    • Dumbbell Single-Leg Step-Ups
  • Back:
    • Barbell Row
    • Alternating-Grip Pull-Up
  • Explosive:
    • Hang Clean
    • Med Ball Throws
    • Plank Kick Throughs
    • Lateral Box Jumps

Day 3

  • Chest:
    • Dumbbell or Barbell Incline Bench
    • Dumbbell Reverse-Grip Chest Press
  • Legs:
    • Front Squat
    • Good Mornings
  • Shoulders:
    • Physioball Jackknife and Push-Up
    • Dumbbell Front Raise
  • Back:
    • Dumbbell Shrugs
    • Dumbbell Single-Arm Row
    • Physioball Plank
  • Explosive:
    • Box Jumps

The Ultimate Off-Season Football Workout Guide, Phase 2: Strength & Muscular Endurance

After performing Phase 1 of this off-season football workout, you will have built up the core stability and overall strength you need to add weightlifting exercises to your program. The next step is to start building on your solid foundation by adding muscular endurance work.

Phase 2 workouts are structured into supersets (pairing reps from two exercises together as part of one set), each set consisting of a strength movement followed by a stabilization exercise. Their volume and intensity will increase your strength and muscular endurance. This is the next level up in terms of difficulty, and it will further prepare your body for the more challenging and demanding workouts in later phases of the program. In this phase, all sets, reps and weight levels are moderate. However, just because you are not maxing out doesn’t mean it won’t be challenging. Also, since this is the first time in the off-season that you’ll be lifting weight, do not sacrifice your technique to make maximum gains. This will help you stay injury-free.

Phase 2: Strength and Endurance Training

  • Reps: 8-12 (Decrease by 2 reps per week)
  • Sets: 2-4
  • Percent of Max: 70-80 percent (increase by 3-5 pounds per week on each exercise)
  • Frequency: 2 to 4 times per week
  • Duration: 3 weeks
  • Exercise Selection: Superset strength (S) and endurance exercises (E)

Day 1

  • (S) Barbell or Dumbbell Bench
  • (E) Physioball Push-Up
  • (S) Dumbbell Push Press
  • (E) Single-Leg Resistance Band Face Pulls (four-second count on negative)
  • (S) Dumbbell Plank Rows
  • (E) Pull-Ups or Chin-Ups
  • Single-Leg Physioball Glute Bridge
  • Balance Single-Leg Skater Squat
  • Barbell Squat
  • Med Ball Cork Screws
  • Plank Walk Up With Dumbbell Pull
  • Seated Box Jumps (hold landing for one second)

Day 2

  • (S) Dumbbell Close-Grip Bench
  • (E) Single-Arm Resistance Band Chest Press (four-second count on negative)
  • (S) Dumbbell Bent-Over Rows
  • (E) Single-Arm Band Rows (four-second count on negative)
  • (S) Dumbbell Lateral Step-Up and Shoulder Press
  • (E) Alternating-Grip Pull-Ups
  • (S) Single-Leg Good Mornings
  • (E) Dumbbell Side Lunges
  • Power Clean
  • Med Ball Chops
  • Side Plank Holds (hold for two seconds and switch sides)
  • Single-Leg Lateral Mini Hurdle Hops

Day 3

  • (S) Barbell or Dumbbell Incline Bench
  • (E) Close-Grip Push-Ups
  • (S) Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch
  • (E) Resistance Band Reverse Flies (four-second count on negative)
  • (S) Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows
  • (E) Pull-Ups (four-second count on negative)
  • (S) Single-Leg Physioball Hamstring Curls
  • (E) Dumbbell Lunges
  • Deadlift
  • Med Ball Russian Twists
  • Single-Arm, Single-Leg Plank
  • Seated Broad Jumps (hold landing for one second)

 


The Ultimate Off-Season Football Workout Guide, Phase 1: Strength & Stability

Even before the helmets are collected and the uniforms washed, high school football players are thinking about the off-season—their opportunity to recover physically and psychologically and to work on improving their performance.

How you structure your off-season football workouts can be a huge factor in reaching your strength goals. In a series of five articles, we will comment on each phase of off-season training. Phase 1, is the Stabilization and Endurance Phase.

The main goal of an off-season football program is to increase the body’s ability to stabilize and remain in a controlled posture. As a season progresses, muscular imbalances can occur from injuries—or even from continually cutting in the same direction. This can lead to weaknesses in underused areas of the body, risking potential injury and raising performance issues.

The Stabilization and Endurance Phase focuses on flexibility, core strength, balance, and reactive & resistance training to correct imbalances and provide the base of strength you need to progress through the program. Think of it as laying the foundation for a house. You must increase functional strength, core stabilization and flexibility to prepare your body for the heavy loads it will be taking on later in the training.

In this initial phase, body-weight and core engagement exercises will comprise the majority of your training. Intensity (percent of max) will be low and reps will be high. Each workout will feature full body exercises, which are necessary to correct imbalances and prepare you for more advanced lifts.

Phase 1: Stability and Endurance Training Variables

  • Reps: 12-15
  • Sets: 1-3
  • Percent of Max: 50-70 percent
  • Frequency: 2 to 4 times per week
  • Duration: 3 weeks

Day 1

  • Physioball Dumbbell Press
  • Single-Leg Bent-Over Row
  • Single-Leg Biceps Curl to Overhead Press
  • Assisted Pull-Ups
  • Glute Bridge
  • Single-Leg Squat With Toe Touch
  • Bodyweight Squat
  • Plank Kick Throughs
  • Knee-to-Elbow Plank
  • Tuck Jumps (two-second hold on landing)

Day 2

  • Physioball Push-Ups
  • Inverted Row
  • Dumbbell Step-Ups With Shoulder Press
  • Physioball Dumbbell Pullovers
  • Dumbbell Single-Leg RDL
  • Pistol Squat
  • Power Clean
  • Standing Resistance Band Core Rotations
  • Single-Arm, Single-Leg Plank
  • Single-Leg Mini Hurdle Hops

Day 3

  • Physioball Dumbbell Incline
  • Single-Leg Resistance Band Row (pull for four seconds)
  • Seated Physioball Shoulder Press
  • Neutral-Grip Pull-Ups (slowly lower for two to three seconds)
  • Single-Leg Physioball Hamstring Curl
  • Dumbbell Bulgarian Split-Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Physioball Leg Rotations
  • Physioball Back Extensions
  • Broad Jumps (two-second hold on landing)

Check out Phase 2 of the Ultimate Off-Season Football Workouts when you’re ready to move to the strength and endurance phase.


The Ultimate Off-Season Football Workout Guide

The winter & spring months give football players valuable time to commit to a full off-season football workout plan. Take advantage of your extra time this spring to get better at your position and get noticed by coaches this fall.The key to your off-season workout plan is to have a plan. Yes, any workout is better than no workout at all, but you will severely limit your potential gains if you fail to follow a program designed to maximize football strength & explosiveness.

Our program is divided into five phases, which build upon each other to increase your strength, size and power, and to make you a better overall athlete on the field. Click on each phase to access the specific instructions for each workout.
Below is an overview of each of the 5 phases of the plan.  Over the next few days, be on the look out for additional details around each of these phases.

Program Overview-Phase 1 thru 5 

 

Phase 1: Stability & Endurance

Goal:  Correct muscle imbalances caused by injuries sustained during a grueling season, and build a foundation for heavy lifting and more advanced exercises.
Overview:  Focuses primarily on body-weight and core stability exercises that improve flexibility, core strength and balance, and eliminate imbalances. Intensity (percent of your max) is low and reps are high. Although the weight used may seem easy, remember that the goal is to set the stage for subsequent phases.

Phase 2: Strength & Endurance

Goal: Continue building a solid foundation with strength exercises to prepare for more advanced workouts.
Overview: Workouts are structured into super-sets, each consisting of a strength movement followed by a stabilization exercise. Weight, sets and reps are moderate, but challenging enough to increase your strength and muscular endurance-an essential step before performing heavy lifts.

Phase 3: Building Muscle

Goal: Build as much muscle as possible, increase strength and cut body fat to enable you to tackle harder, block better and overpower opponents.
Overview:  This is where the meat of the program begins. Three full-body routines with two exercises per major body part are designed to achieve a high volume of reps with each muscle group-essential for building muscle. Sets and intensity increase as reps decrease.

Phase 4: Maximum Strength Training

Goal:  Develop as much muscular strength as possible so you can out-muscle and over-match your opponents.
Overview:  The max strength phase is again centered on a full-body routine, but now you begin to lift heavy weight. You perform two to three exercises for each major body part at 90 to 100 percent of your max. Sets increase, but due to the high intensity, you perform fewer reps, sometimes only one rep per set.

Phase 5: Power Training

Goal:  Transfer strength into game-speed power so you can apply more force in faster bursts.
Overview:  This final phase is completed before the season to transfer gains made from previous phases into power that can be used on the field.
The workouts are broken down into complexes, in which you perform a strength exercise followed immediately by a power exercise that works the same muscles. Strength exercises are performed at a high percent of your max, and power exercises are performed at a low intensity, with a focus on explosive movements. Sets decrease, but due to the different intensities, you perform fewer reps for strength exercises and higher reps for power.
Over the next few days, be on the look out for additional detailed posts around each of these phases.

Top 5 Attributes College Coaches Look For In a Quarterback

 

football-coaches

Coaches may run different offensive playbooks, but when they recruit quarterbacks, every single one of them is looking for certain qualities. If you’re a high-school QB who wants to compete at the next level, brush up on these five attributes to help you grab the attention of your dream university.

Leadership

To be a college quarterback, first and foremost you must be a leader. This is the number one quality every college coach looks for in a QB. Arguably, the QB is most important player on the field, able to influence the game more than any other position. Other than the center, the QB is the only player who touches the ball on every snap.

Coaches want to find a guy they can trust and have full confidence in. They want a winner, so if a QB is not leading his high school team to victory, how will he know how to do it in college? Rarely is a quarterback with a poor high school record sought after by college coaches. It just doesn’t happen.

Intelligence

Decision-making is a critically important aspect of being a QB. That said, doing well in the classroom and doing well on the field are not necessarily synonymous. Lots of academically strong athletes lack “football smarts,” and vice-versa. So take care of both!

You know how to handle your studies, but how do you get smart on the turf? This is something a coach sees both through film study and face-to-face interaction. QBs are forced to do a lot of quick thinking. Questions college coaches ask when evaluating a QB prospect include: does he make correct reads? Does he avoid turnovers? Can he audible when necessary, or make other adjustments? Will he be able to understand and be successful in our offense? When the answer is always yes, the prospect stands a good chance of being recruited.

Strength & Accuracy

Yes, I know these are two attributes, but they’re evaluated together. It doesn’t matter how strong a QB’s arm is if he can’t throw to the right spot. There’s something to be said for a guy who can throw both a 25-yard post-corner and a five-yard slant, because each throw requires a different trajectory, velocity and touch. Many quarterbacks can throw a 50-yard vertical route, but the special ones can make pristine throws all over the field.

Size

Obviously every college coach dreams of a 6’5″ QB, but it’s often unrealistic, especially when you look away from the BCS schools. However, the taller a QB is, the better vision he will have over tall offensive linemen, making it easier to find blitzes coming, identify open receivers and avoid passes being knocked down.

Mobility

Mobility is often evaluated in conjunction with size, so if you’re a QB on the shorter side, it’s even more important to be athletic. It’s just not as easy for a short QB to see over an offensive line. By mobility, I don’t mean you have to be Michael Vick. Obviously, how mobile the quarterback needs to be depends on the offense his team runs. But all QBs need to be mobile enough to step up in the pocket and extend a possession by making a play. He may choose to leave the pocket sooner, or a play might be called to get him outside of the tackle box with sprint-out action to clear his vision.

NEW Football Position Specific (Semi-Private) Skills Clinics:

The best way to become a better football player isn’t by playing more football – it’s by improving your technique, efficiency and your overall athleticism specific to YOUR position.  Throw further, cut faster, and kick your game into high gear with Velocity Sports.  Whether you are trying to get off the bench or learn the skills necessary to master a new position, Velocity can help you meet your goals so you can be ready for the next season…To find out more about this innovative new program click here

Article above was written by Pat Curran – A contributing expert to STACK.com

14 UNIQUE VERTIMAX TRAINING EXERCISES THAT BUILD SPEED

14-vertimax-exercises-to-improve-power-and-speed-carrollton-frisco

Vertimax training exercises have become a staple in performance centers across the country and have proven time and time again to be useful tools in developing lower-body power and improving an athlete’s vertical. Depending on the model, the flat platform consists of a series of bungees that connect to a belt or even hand and thigh attachments, depending on your goal.

RELATED: How do I Become A More Explosive Athlete?

Unlike most drills, Vertimax training exercises give you more resistance the higher up you go, challenging you to fire through the end range. On jumping or plyometric exercises, this helps you achieve triple extension and activate your posterior chain with greater force and speed. As with many pieces of equipment, however, this device is limited only by the creativity of the user.

Below, we  provide you 14 unique Vertimax training exercises that are a great supplement to an athlete development training program. You can watch each of them demonstrated in the video above.

Vertical Power

We use these exercises to supplement Olympic lifts and plyometrics for increased rate of force production and firing into end range.

1. Push Press
2. Split Jerk
3. Single Arm Push Jerk

Horizontal Power

We use this exercise in conjunction with sprint work and bounding exercises for increased first step quickness and power behind each footstrike.

4. Kneeling Hip Thrust to Broad Jump

Technique Work

We often help to improve form by using the Vertimax to cue the hips back and down in squat patterns or to drive the leg down to a powerful footstrike.

5. Supine Knee Drive to Foot Strike
6. Squat Correction/Hip Thrust

Core and Postural Stability

You can experiment with different attachments on the Vertimax bungees to challenge your core from different angles within functional patterns. Maintain an Overhead Press in the Overhead Squat or the Waiter’s Carry to challenge posterior chain support while engaging your core.

7. Overhead Squat
8. Lateral Dynamic Pallof Press
9. Upward Chop
10. Side Plank to Single-Arm Row
11. Forearm Plank Pull-Down
12. Forearm Plank Superman Punch
13. Split Squat Waiter’s Carry
14. Shot Put Rotational Press

Want to get an edge on your competition?

You want to make real and measurable gains in speed, power and first-step quickness specific to your sport?  Our new weekly athletic performance program includes extensive Vertimax training and is both affordable and scientifically designed to improve your speed and explosiveness in as little as 8 weeks! Click on this link to find out more and schedule your FREE TrialTry Velocity Sports training today.

Article was written by Scott Gunter – A contributing expert to STACK.com



3 ESSENTIALS OF SPRING FOOTBALL TRAINING!!

In this Feb. 14, 2014 photo, coach Geir Gudmundsen, right, looks on as players work on running techniques at TEST Sports Clubs in Martinsville, N.J. More than 300 NFL hopefuls will be measured on their 40-yard dash times, 225-pound bench press reps and other tests at the scouting combine in Indianapolis this week. Many college players get crash courses in everything from improving their performance in the physical tests to preparing for the intelligence at training centers like TEST Sports Clubs. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Dozens of football coaches run their athletes into the ground during the spring to get them into “shape.” The problem is they are so far away from the competitive season, excessive amounts of conditioning will rob their athletes of the strength, power and speed gains they will need in the fall.

Instead of heavy conditioning, spend the spring working on movement ability and speed training, which are the essentials of football training. Speed takes much longer to develop than endurance, and before you can work on speed endurance, it is important to work on peak speed, acceleration and power.

The spring is the perfect time to begin building the fast and physical athletes that a team needs to win football games.

1) Mobility Training

Here is a timeline for movement training in the spring:

  • March: Movement efficiency, linear speed, multi-directional speed, practice
  • April: Movement efficiency, linear speed, multi-directional speed, practice, scrimmages
  • May: Reactive speed (linear), advanced multi-directional speed drills

In the early spring, it is important to reset movement patterns in the weight room to decrease injury risk and rebuild athletes’ bodies following a long and hard football season.

Most coaching staffs throw athletes right back into a hard strength program and immediately attack heavy weights. While strength is important and necessary, if athletes build strength upon faulty movements, issues will arise as the season approaches that can lead to serious injuries and lost playing time.

In the early spring, it is also important to focus on:

  • Soft tissue work (foam rolling, massage)
  • Movement patterns (corrective exercise, technique emphasis, physical therapy)
  • Stability (core function, balance)
  • Mobility (ankle, hip, shoulder)

Placing early emphasis on these areas will improve athletes’ gains in the spring/summer, decrease injury rates and emphasize proper instruction over a “more is better” approach.

2) Strength Training

Coaches and athletes should focus on creating stability before mobility. Increased mobility with insufficient stability can lead to injury as athletes reach unsafe ranges of motion for their current motor control.

Here is a timeline for strength training in the spring:

  • February/March: Tissue quality, movement patterns, technique, general preparation training, stability, mobility
  • April: Strength/muscle building
  • May: Strength/maximal strength

3) Power Training

Spring is the time to establish a proper progression for power training. It’s more than doing Power Cleans and Box Jumps. Teaching athletes how to explode laterally, how to jump from one foot to another, and how to deal with decelerating powerful movements are all important factors in the spring.  Do not merely regard power training as the ability to generate tremendous force into the ground, but also as the ability to generate tension quickly in order to store and use force and not have force negatively impact the body.  Depth Drops teach athletes how to properly land and store energy for improved power and speed. Learning to absorb force in a variety of movements also helps reduce injury.

Teaching the body to absorb force also has an important injury-reduction component. If an athlete isn’t prepared to deal with force in a variety of movements, he can be exposed to increased injury during a football game. Often athletes tear an ACL in a non-contact injury due to improper utilization and absorption of force.  A proper power program not only enhances athleticism, it conditions the body for the speed and aggressive nature of football.  Here is a timeline for power training in the spring:

  • March: Depth Drops (double leg), Power Skips, Olympic lift technical drills, Box Jumps, Med Ball Drills
  • April: Single-Leg Hops, Bounding, Olympic Lifts, Skater Jumps
  • May: Double contact jumps, Olympic lifts, Depth Jumps, Reactive Jumps

Spring football training sets the stage for players to maximize their summer training and prepare for the season. With a smart and progressive plan that builds on itself and establishes a variety of movements, strength, power and speed, you can enhance your athletic ability while reducing injury risk.

Want to get an edge on your competition?

You want to make real and measurable gains in speed, power and first-step quickness specific to your sport?  Our new weekly athletic performance program is both affordable and scientifically designed to improve your speed and explosiveness in as little as 8 weeks! Click on this link to find out more and schedule your FREE TrialTry Velocity Sports training today.

NEW Football Position Specific (Semi-Private) Skills Clinics:

The best way to become a better football player isn’t by playing more football – it’s by improving your technique, efficiency and your overall athleticism specific to YOUR position.  Throw further, cut faster, and kick your game into high gear with Velocity Sports.  Whether you are trying to get off the bench or learn the skills necessary to master a new position, Velocity can help you meet your goals so you can be ready for the next season…To find out more about this innovative new program click here

Article was written by Bill Rom – A contributing expert to STACK.com


5 Drills to Improve Your Lateral Quickness for Basketball

Lateral-speed-for-basketball

If they don’t have lateral quickness, defenders are doomed. This applies to all sports, and basketball is no exception. A defender who is slow laterally will be easily juked and left looking silly on the court. And let’s face it, nobody wants to look silly.

Most athletes focus on linear speed, and they often neglect lateral speed and quickness. Our program is designed to help you get quicker when moving from side to side so you can play better basketball defense.  Before we jump into the lateral drills start with a hip mobility and strength complex to maximize results:

Hip Mobility

Restricted hip mobility is the number one thing that will limit your lateral quickness. You absolutely need to have adequate mobility in your hips. This can be relatively simple to accomplish. The goal is to improve the range of motion as well as the elasticity of the muscles that surround the hips. Try this:

Step 1 – Foam roll your quads, IT bands, glutes and adductors

Step 2 – Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions of each of the following exercises:

  • Bridges (5-second holds)
  • Fire Hydrants
  • Scorpions
  • Straight Leg High Kicks (Frankensteins)
  • Side Leg Swings
  • Mountain Climbers (knee outside the elbow)
  • Backward Hip Rotation Walk

Step 3 – Stretch your quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, IT bands, glutes and adductors

Lateral Movement Strength

Focusing on lateral movement strength in the weight room yields tremendous benefits. A few simple exercises will help you quickly improve lateral movement as a defender. Here are the top three weight resistance exercises you can do to improve your lateral movement.

1. Side Lunges: Holding either a dumbbell or a kettlebell against your chest (like a Goblet Squat), take a big step out to the side, push your hips out in the same direction, sink into a squat position with the other leg still straight, and explosively push back up to your starting position. You can perform all reps on one side before switching, or alternate sides. Complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

2. Side Squat Walk: Holding either a dumbbell or kettlebell against your chest, assume a squat position. Walk laterally, maintaining a low hip level and tight midsection. Keep your torso tall and erect and your head forward. Walk for either a set distance or for 10-12 steps in each direction. Perform 3-4 sets of 10-20-yard Side Squat walks in each direction, resting 1 minute between sets.

3. Lateral Sled Drags: Using a weight sled (Prowler or other type), attach a harness, TRX or other form of handle to pull the sled. Don’t load the sled too heavily, but don’t make it too easy to pull either. Pull the sled using lateral movement for about 90 feet. Start by dragging the sled at a walking pace and increase it to a lateral sprint. Perform 3-4 sets with one-minute rest between.

Footwork and Plyometric Drills

The last piece of the puzzle when improving lateral movement is to work on your explosiveness and footwork. What good does it do to mobilize and gain movement strength if you lack explosiveness or are tripping over your own feet? These simple drills will have you moving smoothly and quickly in no time.

1) Agility Ladder, 2 In, 2 Out

The 2 in, 2 out drill is a classic and it’s excellent for improving lateral footwork.

  • Using an agility ladder, begin on one side.
  • The foot nearest the ladder always steps first.
  • Beginning with the inside foot, step into the first square of the ladder. Follow with your second foot.
  • Leading with the same foot, step out of the ladder with both feet.
  • Your opposite foot is now the lead foot for stepping into and out of the next square. Your feet should never cross!

Sets/Reps: Repeat this pattern in a smooth and controlled manner twice through the ladder, resting 30 seconds between sets. Don’t worry about speed in the beginning. Just try not to get your feet tangled or snag the ladder.

2) Skaters

This plyometric exercise is also a footwork and balance drill, but it will help you improve your lateral movement capabilities. Beginning on one foot, jump sideways to the opposite side (if on your right foot, jump to the left), and land on the opposite leg. Jump with as much power as you can. Repeat this movement side to side as explosively as possible.

Sets/Reps: 3×20 (10 each direction)

3) Side-to-Side Shuffle

Set up two cones about 5 yards apart. Beginning at one cone, assume a low position and shuffle sideways to the other cone. When you reach it, shuffle back to the first cone. Begin this drill slowly, focusing on keeping your hips low and square and moving your feet smoothly.

Sets/Reps: 2×5, with 1 minute rest between sets

4) Partner Mirror Drill

This may be one of the best exercises to help basketball players develop lateral quickness and improve their reaction time. In a 5-yard space, stand facing your teammate. One of you is the lead, the other is the shadow. Within the 5 yards, the lead moves laterally, changing direction as he or she feels like it, while the shadow tries to mirror every move.

Sets/Duration: 6×10-20 seconds (3 as lead and 3 as shadow), with 1 minute rest between sets.

5) 20-Yard Short Shuttle

The traditional 5-10-5 version of this drill is often used to test football players. However, for the purpose of improving lateral quickness, you will perform a 5-5-5-5 version. Set up two cones 5 yards apart. Starting at Cone 1, sprint laterally to the opposite cone, touch the line, and sprint laterally back to the first cone. Time your sets and try to beat yout time while maintaining perfect form each time. Touch the line and repeat until you have covered the distance four times for 20 yards.

Sets/Reps: 3-5 sets, resting 1 minute between

Want to get an edge on your competition?

You want to improve your speed, explosiveness and lateral first-step quickness specific to your sport?  Our new athletic performance program is scientifically designed to improve your first-step speed and lateral explosiveness in as little as 8 weeks! Click on this link to schedule your FREE TrialTry Velocity Sports & Therapy training today.
Article was written by Ryan Sprague – A contributing expert to STACK.com
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