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.
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)
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