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Lower Body Strength and Power Training – Secrets of Russian Sports Fitness and Training

Explosive Lower Body Training for Strength and Power

As we move from the strength phase of our training it becomes necessary to start incorporating movements that build strength endurance and stability. We must also engage in exercises that allow us to transition to more dynamic movements; such as submaximal plyometrics.  This is in preparation to handle the ballistic forces in the upcoming explosive / jump training phase.

Dynamic Isometrics

It is true that isometric exercises strengthen +/- 15-20 degrees of the joint angle being engaged (2).  What happens if we incorporate isometrics all along the strength training movement pattern through the eccentric (lowering / yielding) phase.  We get dynamic isometrics.

Benefits of Dynamic Isometrics:

  • serious strength endurance
  • improve deceleration proficiency
  • reinforce landing mechanics
  • improve torso rigidity, bracing proficiency
  • tendon / ligament density

Secrets of Russian Sports Fitness and Training states the following:

“Dynamic isometrics is now known as explosive isometrics. ”  The explosiveness comes from the fact that after the isometrics are engaged, compensatory acceleration (CAT) is attempted.  CAT is taking the weight and moving it as hard and as fast as you can (think tempo “x”).

As you can see in these images and this video, we utilize a giant cambered bar for our squats.  This is essential when working with all athletes to prevent shoulder irritation and gain a proficient squat while you are still working to improve thoracic mobility.

Each position is held for 3 seconds and there are 3 position for each repetition.  Approximate time under tension (TUT) is around 30 seconds each set.

Dynamic Isometrics – Position 1 (45 degrees)

Dynamic Isometrics – Position 2 (Parallel)

Dynamic Isometrics – Position 3 (Full)

Altitude Drops

An altitude drop is a abbreviated form of a depth jumps (Verkhoshanksy).  You step off of a box and land and stop the movement as quickly as you can.  We do NOT ask the athlete to reverse the movement, ONLY absorb. Remember, we are using this submaximal plyometric to prepare for the next phase which will include the full execution of the depth jump AND many other upper and lower body explosive movements.  In our example, we are also modifying it slightly to increase its benefit for the athlete.

Benefits of Altitude Drops

  • develops eccentric (yielding) strength (2)
  • dynamically stretches the hips and ankles
  • drills landing mechanics
  • strong excitation of CNS (2)

As you can see in the pictures and video, I modified the altitude drops two ways and improved its base benefit profile.

1.  I did not have the athletes stop immediately on the landing.  We are still in preparation mode for our plyometric phase and the athletes are still learning to land proficiently.  So we want to reinforce the landing mechanics and develop the eccentric strength to absorb the impact.  We ask the athletes to land softly.  This is a great transition to the full execution of the movement.

2.  I also did not start the movement just by dropping off the box.  I added specificity to the altitude drop by preceding it with a dynamic step up.  The goal was to get the knee higher than the hip to promote not only hip mobility but strength mobility (ie. strength in this new ROM).  This is an amazing modification.

Depth Drops Preceded with Dynamic Step-up 1

Depth Drops Preceded with Dynamic Step-up 2

Depth Drops Preceded with Dynamic Step-up 3


You can also see the movements were performed in bare feet and the athletes were landing on a soft platform, ie. a wrestling mat.  The athlete must possess a solid strength foundation before attempting either dynamic isometrics or shock training.  Finally, volume is of concern for both of these heavily CNS intensive exercises, so monitor carefully.


Dynamic Isometric Squats, 3×3

Altitude Drops (with Diesel modification), 3×5 each leg


1. Secrets of Russian Sports Fitness and Training

2. Supertraining

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5 Responses to “Lower Body Strength and Power Training – Secrets of Russian Sports Fitness and Training”

  1. gregory jimenez Says:

    Sick Smitty dude, these types of post are very cool.
    already got supertraining , im gonna buy that russian secrets book.Keep up the awesomeness.

  2. Mike Says:

    Good stuff guys. Always good to see real science being applied with real world athletes. If you fail to plan you plan to fail…..proper programming is key results. Not like most of the garbage we see online. Keep up the informative posts.


  3. Smitty Says:

    thanks guys.

  4. Domenic Says:

    Great to see these vids, and coincidentally enough, Pat is my cousin. He’s got great flexibility and is light on his feet, john looks good too.

  5. Puneet Chaudhry Says:

    Hi Smitty

    Just wanna ask, could we use these dynamic isometrics for stuff like one armed pushups, chin ups, handstands etc as well? and regularly for increasing absolute strength. If speed strength and strength endurance comes along, well enough, but my gain is to go about gaining absolute strength. And if we were to cycle in this kind of training, would this be a good idea?

    Day 1..Upper body–Negative Chin-ups, finger push-ups and pull ups and -ve one armed push ups ..3*3 each..hold times varying from 3 seconds to 5 seconds, for the sake of cycling

    Day 2..Lower body (and core+neck bridges)-Negative pistols and ghr..3*3. hold times varying from 3-5 seconds again.

    Day 4-Upper body–being a light day, lesser sets or lesser hold times, what would u recommend? I thought, just doing the negatives without holds would also be a good idea for a ‘light’ day.

    Day 5-Lower body

    I rotate pull ups and one armed push-ups with handstand pushups/dips and horizontal pulls.

    Is this much volume and frequency good enough? Would i be over-training or under-training?

    Really need your suggestions and guidance here Smitty!

    Awaiting eagerly!

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