B.A.S.E. Sports Conditioning – Articles 17

Jump to It.

Part III: Getting Stronger

by Mike Mejia, CSCS

If you’ve been following along with the workouts in this series up to this point, you should already be noticing some real differences in the way your body moves and feels. You’re probably experiencing increased range of motion in areas that were previously tight, as well as an improved sense of overall strength and stability.

As good as that might feel though, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ready to start doing full blown plyometric drills after just a few short weeks of training.

There’s still more work to be done to ensure that you’ve built a strong enough foundation to withstand reaction forces that can often be more than double your own body weight when landing from various types of jumps!

So, in part three of our series on plyometrics, I outline some great drills to help you do just that.

Lowering the Boom!

In terms of lower body strengthening, the drills featured here all have one thing in common: they’ll help improve something known as deceleration strength. That essentially means that they’ll make you better at controlling your body’s momentum, leading to better landing mechanics and more efficient changes of direction.

In total, there are three lower body drills in this part of the program, each training deceleration a bit differently. The mini band drop squat for instance helps prepare you for the kind of rapid descent typical of landing a jump, while at the same time targeting the lateral glutes to ensure proper knee alignment. The triple lunge will also improve your ability to control your body’s momentum, but does so with more of the load on one limb at a time — making it a great way to improve overall change of direction mechanics. Finally, the speed skater drill really works that lateral component by teaching you how to push off in one direction, properly absorb that momentum and then explode back the opposite way. Be forewarned though, when done correctly it really eats up the hips, legs and core!

Middle Management

Speaking of your core, before you can start doing all of those cool medicine ball chops and throws, you need to get the muscles that comprise your body’s midsection used to working as dynamic stabilizers. All this means is that instead of exercises like crunches and sit-ups, which cause you to flex or bend your spine, you use your core and postural muscles to provide stability while one or more of your limbs move.

To simply start doing various types of medicine ball throws without first developing this kind of stability will at best result in reduced power output and, at worst, increase your chances of injury! That’s why exercises like kneeling chops and cable rotations are so effective. They train your muscles in a manner similar to the way you’ll do throwing movements, just without the ballistic component of actually releasing and catching the ball. Doing so will help ingrain proper body mechanics and build the necessary strength to gain benefit from these types of exercises.

Stand Your Ground

For your upper body, the focus will be on strengthening exercises done in upright position while supporting all or most of your own body weight. Since you won’t be sitting down or lying on a bench while attempting to generate power out on the playing field, you might as well be training in a way that best meets your athletic needs.

So, for the exercises featured here, we’ll be turning to two popular training tools that allow for upper body strengthening with a decidedly functional approach. The first is a rowing movement to strengthen the upper back using the TRX Suspension trainer. This versatile tool allows you to work out just about anywhere and also makes it easy to adjust the intensity of each exercise by simply changing your body position. We’ve also got a horizontal press using a resistance band. The thing I really like about these is the heavy core and lower body demand they require to maintain your position as you work on building strength through the upper body.

Try doing the following workout 2-3 times per week for the next 3-4 weeks before moving on to the next phase of this program. By the time you do, you should be more than ready to start developing some serious power!

Important: This workout should always be preceded by a full dynamic warm-up.

The Program

Do 2-3 sets of each drill for the prescribed number of reps.

Mini Band Drop Squats

Kneeling Chops

TRX Rows

Triple Lunges

Cable Rotations

Speed Skaters

Resistance Band Chest Presses

Mini Band “Drop” Squats: Place a mini band just below your knees and set your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Begin by rapidly driving your hips back as you bend your knees and descend into a squat. Be sure to keep your chest up and bring your arms forward to help counterbalance the movement. In the bottom position, your thighs should be parallel to the ground as you “fire out” against the band to help ensure proper knee alignment (i.e. not pinching inwards). Pause for split second and then press back up to the starting position. Repeat until you’ve done 8-10 reps.

High Kneeling Chop: Get into a high kneeling position, facing parallel to a cable station. The leg closet to the station should be out in front of you, bent at a 90-degree angle, with your other leg in contact with the ground from the knee down. Next, holding a rope handle that’s attached to the high pulley with a pronated (palms facing down) grip, keep your hips and shoulders perfectly squared as you “chop” the rope down, across your body from your shoulder to your opposite hip. Hold for a second at the bottom, then raise the weight back up and repeat. Continue until you’ve completed 10-12 reps and then switch sides.

TRX Suspension Rows: Grab on to the handles of a TRX that’s anchored to a door, or other stable support. Slowly start walking your feet forward until you feel you have enough resistance. Once in position, keep your feet still as you use your upper back to pinch your shoulder blades together and down to initiate the rowing movement. Follow through with your arms as you drive your elbows past your torso. Hold the top position for a second and then slowly lower and repeat. Continue until you’ve done 10-12 reps.

Triple Lunges: From a standing start, lunge forward and descend into your hips until your front leg forms a 90-degree angle to the ground. In this position, your back knee should almost make contact with the ground. Press back up and then stride out to the side with the same leg, making sure to drive your hips back, keep your chest up and maintain a straight knee on the leg that you’re lunging away from. Press back up and then lunge directly behind you with the same leg, until your front knee is bent approximately 90 degrees and your back knee is almost touching the ground. Press back up and repeat the entire sequence (or alternate legs). Continue until you’ve done 4-5 rounds with each leg.

*Cable Rotations: Stand facing a cable station with the pulley set about chest level. Next, grab on to the handle and extend both arms out in front of you. Using your core, rotate your hips and shoulders to your left until the cable is perpendicular to your body. Hold for a split second, then return the weight back to the starting position and repeat to the other side. Continue until you’ve done 8-10 reps per side.

Speed Skaters: Begin standing on your right leg and get down into a half squat position. In one big motion, push out to the left and swing your arms, as you quickly land on your left side and drop into a half squat position on that side. Quickly drive back up and out off your left leg and push back out to the right. Continue until you’ve done 10-12 reps total.

Resistance Band Chest Press: Hook a resistance band to a stable support that’s positioned behind you and grab hold of both handles. Step out until you feel enough resistance and then adopt a staggered, lunge-type stance. Once in position, brace your core and legs tight as you press the bands out on front of you and bring your hands together, in front of your body. Hold for a second, then return the band back until your hands are almost even with your chest and continue until you’ve completed 10-12 reps.

* Note: This exercise can also be done by securing a resistance band to a stable support.  

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