For nearly every athletic movement, power originates in the lower body. Muscles like the quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes provide the foundation for jumping, sprinting and cutting.
The lower body generates strength that is transferred through the core to the upper body to power sport-specific skills like throwing and tackling. Lower body strength also plays a role in balance and stability during movements like cutting or landing from a jump.
Functional multi-joint exercises performed with your feet on the ground, like Squats and Olympic Lifts, are a great way to train the lower body. These complex movements recruit the most muscle, which translates to the greatest increases in strength. Because sports often require single-leg strength, athletes should incorporate heavy doses of single-leg exercises.
Avoid isolation movements such as Leg Extensions and Leg Curls. They simulate no athletic movements, so they shouldn’t be a big focus for athletes trying to get stronger.
Incorporate lower-body strength training into your workouts two or three times per week, using a variety of complex lifts, explosive plyometric movements and functional upper-body and core exercises that contribute to leg and hip strength gains. For best results, perform lower body exercises as explosively as possible.