Exercises for Athletes

Box Squat with Single Leg Concentric

Last week I contributed this exercise to the article: Great Exercises You're Not Doing. In case you missed it, here is the summary below.

Want to improve your squat without your knees and hips always feeling so beat down. We all know squats are important for performance. However, performing heavy squats multiple times per week can become brutal on your joints. The box squat with a single leg concentric is an excellent way to still train the squatting pattern with high effort, but utilizing a lighter load that decreases the compressive stress on the joints.

How to perform the exercise: Set up a bench/box to an appropriate height/skill that allows you to squat to a depth of near parallel. Squat down to the box. Move one leg in closer towards mid-line, and extend the opposite leg out keeping the heel on the ground. Subtly shift your sternum toward the working leg, and push through the entire foot to stand up tall. Repeat on one leg for desired number of reps before performing on opposite side.

When performing the exercise you may notice that one side feels much easier than the other. You may also notice that one knee displays greater control or balance on one side compared to another. These are a couple of asymmetries you will want to improve upon prior to increasing the amount of weight you put on the bar.

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Exercises for Athletes #4 - Box Jump with Drop Step

Box Jumps with Drop Step - This is a mid level plyometric exercise that is excellent for building and displaying vertical jump power. More specifically it is a great exercise to develop your two foot jumping capabilities. In addition to squats and deadlifts, this exercise can make significant changes to increase your vertical. By performing a drop step you are creating a more dynamic environment for the athlete by allowing them to perform a quick counter movement prior to jumping. It will also teach the athlete how to properly gather their feet prior to jumping which is very applicable to many sports.

Find a box that is appropriate to skill level. While facing sideways to the box, perform a quarter turn by first moving your inside foot followed by the outside foot. Explode up to the box, land under control with both knees in line with your middle toe.

Exercises for Athletes #3 - Single Leg Box Jumps

Single Leg Box Jumps - This exercise is a mid-level explosive jump or plyometric that is great for athletes to develop explosive power. This is a great exercise for athletes, and can be easily implemented into a youth athlete's strength and conditioning program Find a box that comes up to your kneecap or one that is appropriate to skill level. Explode off of one leg, and land on the opposite foot as softly as possible. Knee should stay in line with your middle toe upon landing.

Prior to implementing this exercise into a youth athlete’s program, be sure they have developed competency to jump and land under control from a two footed jump first.  This way the athlete can properly demonstrate the ability to adequately decelerate from two legs prior to progressing to a single leg explosive activity.

It also acts as a great preventative exercise because it teaches the athlete to decelerate dynamic forces under control. This is why the athlete should focus on trying to land as softly as possible absorbing forces on their opposite leg.

Be sure to keep the reps fairly low here 3-6 reps per leg to allow for recovery, maximal exertion during exercise, and solid technique. The amount of sets will be dependent on the athletes fitness levels and the goal they are trying to accomplish from the particular workout.

Exercises for Athletes #2 - Goblet Squat

The Goblet Squat is a great lift to teach proper technique to a youth athlete or beginning lifter while still eliciting a training effect.  Due to the anterior load of the weight, it allows the lifter to better obtain a squat position as the weight will act as a counter balance. For this reason, a Goblet Squat will actually start to improve squat mobility by gaining control over deeper ranges of motion in the squat position while still maintaining a neutral spine. Once optimal squat depth is obtained with a neutral spine you can then start to focus on increasing load and time under tension. The amount of load you can perform with this lift is limited. However as youth athlete or beginning lifter, ultimately your main goal is time under tension.  In other words, performing set/rep ranges of 3-5 sets x 8-12 reps will give you a baseline level of strength needed to then progress to a lift that will allow for greater loads such as a box squat. As the athlete progresses in his strength and lifting technique, the Goblet Squat will remain a great tool for warm ups or accessory lifts.