3 Exercises To Increase Speed and Power by Brian Schiff

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I often have parents ask me what their child can do at home to get stronger, faster and more powerful.  While I do  not like to give away all my training knowledge for free, I am definitely committed to giving you the best information available to do two very important things for your children:

  1. Train effectively to prevent injuries
  2. Train efficiently to build athletic dominance

I also recognize not everyone will choose to train at our facility, so I like to share information that benefits everyone.  In this brief article, I am going to talk about 3 simple exercises any athlete can and should be doing at home to improve performance and reduce injuries.  These are great for ages 8 and up.

Single leg squats - This is probably my favorite leg strengthening exercise period.  Many athletes I evaluate and train have poor single leg strength and stability.  Therefore, I teach them some version of a single leg squat.  Ideally, the athlete stands on one leg while holding the non stance leg straight out in front of him/her.  Next, slowly lower down maintaining straight alignment of the stance leg and go as deep as possible without losing balance or allowing the knee to go over the toes (heel should not come up either). 

It is often easier to hold onto a counter top or railing for balance until the athlete can master it effectively without holding on.  This exercise is great for increasing quad strength and general hip strength, not to mention improving stability/balance.  If this version proves too challenging, the athlete can also choose to squat down with the non stance leg bent and behind the body.

I recommend doing 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps.  This can be done 3 days per week.

Leg behind version

Supported leg in front version

Unsupported leg in front version (hardest)

 

Single leg hamstring bridges - To increase sprinting/acceleration power, you must improve hamstring strength.  This exercise targets the proximal hamstring and is also effective in preventing hamstring strains.  For this exercise, the athlete should lie on his/her back.  One leg is bent 90 degrees with the foot flat on the floor.  The other leg can be slightly bent or straight and is up in the air.  The arms can rest flat on the floor.  The athlete pushes the body up through the foot on the floor and elevates the body until the upper thigh and hips are level.  Then lower down slowly to the starting position.

I recommend 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps.  This can be done 3 days per week.  This shows an advanced version on a stability ball.  Begin on the floor without the ball and then advance to an unstable surface.

Single leg calf raises - This may seem like a simple exercise, but it is very effective in increasing vertical leaping power as well as quickness and push off for change of direction.  Additionally, it increases arch support and reduces the likelihood of posterior shin splints.  This exercise can be done on the floor, although I prefer it be done on a step. 

The heel is positioned off the back of the step to allow for maximal calf stretch.  The athlete may use fingertip support of the upper body to ensure good balance.  To execute the exercise correctly, the athlete should raise up on the toes, pause at the top and then slowly lower down top a stretch position. 

I recommend 2-3 sets of 15 reps.  This can be done 3 days per week.

By following these simple exercises and performing them with perfect form, an athlete can make positive physiological changes and improve performance and reduce injuries.  They are by no means all inclusive, but will help build a solid foundation for essential strength and stability.

Copyright © 2007 Brian Schiff


Submitted by DMorgan on Mon, 07/09/2007 - 2:16pm.

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