Time and time again you hear of athletes training for their sport. Almost in the same sentence you will hear the discussion about how much these particular athletes “bench.” Though a big bench home gym press number is impressive, it is not directly proportional to performance on the field, track, or ice. As a matter of fact, no lift in and of itself will guarantee success in the game…unless that game is powerlifting. There are many factors that weigh in when victory is on the line. So why then do we put so much emphasis on the workouts for sports? The reason is all other things being equal: an athletically stronger athlete wins.
Athletically stronger…what does that mean? Athletically stronger means that the person is able to convert this raw strength and power earned while working out and convert it to overall strength and power applied to their respective sport. This may sound complex; however, there is one simple practice you can apply in a controlled environment to help make this more readily attainable. Train the body for a balance in strength of the lower body to the upper body. Often when working out people love to train the beach muscles: the chest and biceps. While this may increase the appeal of a physique there is much more to building the athletically strong body. For our purposes let’s zero in on what is arguably the most important body part in all sports strength training: The Legs. The legs must be trained in a hard core fashion to improve your overall Athletic Strength.
Why is leg training so vital?
First, heavy hard core leg training has been shown to NATURALLY increase your testosterone levels. What does that mean to you? More muscle growth and vitality. Do you think that is a good thing for your sport? You’re damn right it is! Now that we are on the same page, let’s explore some specifics for a few sports and the role of the lower body in each of them:
Football (American): Legs strength is vital. If you are a lineman the base for your blocking is not your arms; instead, the base of all your movement is your legs. You must fire off the ball then drive to and through your opponent. If you are a running back you must have the power to plant and cut. Where to you think that power comes from? That’s right the legs and glutes are the source of that strength. How about if you are on defense? It’s the same only more challenging because you have to react with extreme power.
Soccer: Similarly to American Football quick sprints and powerful cuts require massive lower body strength. Strengthening the legs while improving agility can only help on field performance.
Boxing: Upper body and core strength is imperative for these athletes. But, don’t discount the importance of the lower body. Any good boxing coach will be quick to let you know that the power of the punch doesn’t originate from the arm…rather the hips and the legs. Because of this it stands to reason that stronger legs will help improve punching power. Not to mention endurance is needed in the ring and bouncing around for 10 rounds on toothpicks for legs is not likely going to work out too well.
Ice Skating: Whether skating for style or speed the glutes and legs must be in incredible condition to be at the top of your game. If you are a speed skater you already know how the rump feels after a hard sprint. Or if you are into figure skating you are well aware of how much power is necessary in the thighs to get the height needed for a Triple Lutz.
You get the idea…no matter what the sport, lower body strength is king. So how do you go about getting it? There are many options out there for increasing your leg strength. What is important to make sure you do though is find a way to work with heavy weight. Working with heavy weight will help you develop the POWER needed for most sporting activities. Squats are great but can be risky when done without a spotter. It’s a great idea but you need to spend extra for the item.
As you focus on training your legs, there will be a need for you to increase the amount of weight you apply and avoid experiencing a plateau as you progress. User’s concern for their safety may impact their performance and execution. Using equipment with safety features is highly recommended. A prime example is the Leg Sled, where users can still manage to maximize their lift without the aid of a spotter. Also, with a plate-loaded design, you can easily increase and manipulate the amount of resistance you need and its capable of handling massive amounts of weight for huge increases in leg power. You can also do Tibi Raises. This exercise strengthens the often neglected front portion of the lower leg: tibialis anterior. This exercise is the opposite of a toe/calf raise. Basically the heels are planted on the plate and you pull the toes and balls of the fee upward while keeping the legs straight. With proper stretching and the strength benefit that comes from this exercise you can reduce the occurrences of shin splints. These exercises done in combination on the Compact Leg Sled hit all of the major muscle groups of the lower body with great efficiency and will yield great results.
Leg Press: 3×15-20
Single Leg Calf Raise: 3×15-20
Single Leg Leg Press: 3×15-20
Double Leg Calf Raise: 3×15-20
Tibi Raises: 2×20-25
Standing Lunge: 2×25
Single Leg Leg Press: 4×10-15
Double Leg Calf Raise: 4×10-15
Leg Press: 4×10-15
Single Leg Calf Raise: 4×10-15
Tibi Raises: 3×15-20
Reverse Lunge: 2×20
Leg Press: 5×5-10
Single Leg Calf Raise: 5×5-10
Single Leg Leg Press: 5×5-10
Double Leg Calf Raise: 5×5-10
Tibi Raises: 4×10-15
Walking Lunges: 2×15
If you’re ready to take your game to a new level then you must get stronger legs. No one is going to give it to you. You must put the work in. Do you have what it takes? Are you going to work harder than your opponent? Make sure to give your leg the right amount of strength-boost and experience a stronger lower body.