by Justin Goonan, Universal Sports Strength & Conditioning
We are kicking off a monthly series that will highlight exercises aimed at benefiting specific positions on the field. The exercises are not exclusive to just one position, though certain exercises can especially help specific positions improve areas where they are most expected to perform.
For the first month, we focus on the importance of single leg power during running and jumping for Back 3 (wings and fullback) players. Olympic lifts and box jumps are great for developing overall power, though they never directly address a difference between our dominant and non-dominant sides.
Power step-ups, or blast offs, are great for helping individuals improve their starting steps in sprinting, along with their ability to jump off one leg (like when diving for a try or going up to receive a high kick).
Stand beside the box with one foot on the floor (foot aligned parallel to the edge) and the other foot on top. Lift your chest and tuck in your chin. Use a box or bench that is 12-15 inches tall, for starters, and a surface that is big enough for your entire foot to fit.
Lift your top foot (on the box), slightly, then forcefully push off that foot into the air while driving your opposite knee in an upward position. Land softly on the same foot that you pushed off and control your body back to a starting position with your other foot on the floor
We recommend keeping the sets and reps low to avoid fatigue and slowing down the movement. Using 3-4 sets of no more than 3-5 reps on each leg is a great place to start. Also, use this exercise after your warm-up and before your heavy strength work to maximize your results.
Adding additional weight to this movement is perfectly fine once you feel comfortable with this movement and are executing in a quick, explosive manner. We recommend no more than 10% of your bodyweight so the movement stays as fast as possible and your technique is not compromised. Also, you can use a 6-inch box if you feel a taller surface slows down your time of execution.
Have specific questions about how to improve your performance in other positions? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, we are launching a new program in March that is geared toward giving athletes all the tools they need, in the weight room and beyond, to reach their peak performance. Follow us on Facebook (@UniversalSportsStrength), Instagram (@universalsportsstrength) and Twitter (@UniversalS_C) to learn more in the coming weeks.