4 exercises to improve your power.

July 31, 2018

After covering the ‘what’ and ‘why’, let’s move on to the ‘how.  Below you will find four instructional videos of exercises that move across three quarters of the force velocity curve.  This is a very limited snapshot of what is available if you are looking to put this into practice, but it’s definitely a start. 



How to Land correctly:

Before an athlete can take off they should be able to land.  Much like how a strength foundation assists power movement, better landing skills enhance take off skills.


Three areas to focus on are:


1. Active feet on landing: This involves Dorsiflexing the ankle prior to landing and contacting the ground with a slight heel touch but predominantly midfoot.


2. Knee alignment: Your knees should be aligned over the second metatarsal, not only for the health of your knees but also for optimal force transfer.


3. Athletic position: Evenly distributing your body weight between both feet and centrally allows you to move in any direction more efficiently. Along with this, we recommend you keep your chest high and do not hips drop below parallel. This allows for better myosin and actin binding, greater force output and ultimately a faster movement.



The second exercise I have chosen to include is a broad jump, which would be classified as a ballistic or slow stretch shortening cycle exercise or speed strength.  Moving horizontally compared to vertically, the athlete should be aiming for maximal hip extension and also be focusing on an active landing.


How to Broad Jump:


Four areas to focus on are:


1. Knee Alignment: Much like the landing drills, make sure that you or your athlete are keeping their knees aligned with their second metatarsal (toe).


2. Do not drop below parallel in the squat when completing this. The time it takes to get into that position is too long to produce a lot of elasticity and is not optimal for force production.


3. Everyone will have their preference but aim for height as well as distance horizontally.


4. After throwing the shoulders and arms forwards, make sure to bring them back in before landing. This will put you back into an athletic position and prepare you for further movements.



How to Drop Jump:


At the velocity end of the spectrum you will find a drop jump, but before delving into this I have included a short video that focuses on the landing skills of an athlete.  



When it comes to the drop jump we are aiming to improve the maximal velocity that an athlete can produce, by increasing the stiffness of the tendons across ankle and knee.  This exercise is also very complex, so any individual looking to include this in their training programme should ensure that they have a base level of strength and also are proficient in fundamental plyometric exercises.  The aim is to contact the ground in as little time as possible (<0.25s) and generate as much force as possible.


When should you use this exercise?


1. It requires a high level of strength and coordination so this is for the intermediate to advanced athlete.


2. It is primarily used for development of elastic muscle and tendon properties, so this is excellent for any sport requiring explosive movements and jumps.


Coaching points to look for:


1. Dorsiflexing ankle in preparation for impact.

2. Contacting the ground midfoot.

3. Fast and powerful contact with the ground.



How to Hang Power Clean:


Lastly is the inclusion of a hang power clean.  This falls into the bracket of strength-speed as it involves high threshold motor units that have to coordinate to produce a lot of force at fast bar velocities than say a heavy back squat.  This is a common training modality to increase an individual’s power but, much like the drop jump, requires practice and coaching to be performed well and the objective of the exercise met.




What should key coaching points you know?


1. Hinging from the hip and allowing the bar to slide down the thigh. With this, the weight in your feet should move from midfoot to the heel and back again.


2. Shoulder blades remain retracted until the shrug.


3. Shoulders move over the bar as it moves down the thigh to compensate for the hips moving backward.


4. For newer athletes learning this, it is recommended that they mimic a jumping movement in order to explosively move the bar from hips to the shoulders, where it is caught.



As stated earlier, this is a snapshot of the options available to improve an athlete’s power but hopefully this provides a helpful guide if/when a coach or athlete comes to you saying: “I would like to improve power.”



If you would like more information please get in contact.



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