Horizontal Exercises: The One Thing Missing From Your Workouts

Improve your athletic performance with a 12-week workout plan that incorporates horizontal exercises prescribed by STACK Expert John Cissik.

Med Ball Throw

The exercises you perform in the weight room will increase your size and strength, but they won't necessarily make you a better athlete.

The vast majority of exercises athletes perform involve moving their body or weight up and down in the vertical plane of motion. The problem is, sports are played horizontally. Even most jumps have a horizontal component, unless you are testing your vert or dunking from directly under the hoop.

I do not doubt the benefits of Squats, Bench Presses and other vertical-plane exercises. They will always have a place in your program. However, you also need to perform exercises that translate the gains made from your primary lifts into the horizontal plane.

Below I've provided a full 12-week workout program that will develop horizontal power and improve your game.

Guidelines

  • If no weight percentage is specified, select a weight that will leave two to three reps in the tank after each set.
  • Always perform your workouts on non-consecutive days.

Phase 1: Weeks 1-4

Phase 1 develops a foundation of strength and builds lean muscle mass. It does not feature any horizontal exercises.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

  • Superset: Lunges - 3x12-15 + Dumbbell Bench Press - 3x12-15
  • Superset: Step-Ups - 3x12-15 + Pull-Ups - 3x12-15
  • Superset: Good Mornings - 3x12-15 + Dumbbell Shoulder Presses - 3x12-15
  • Superset: Reverse Hyperextensions - 3x12-15 + Bicep Curls - 3x12-15
  • Superset: Calf Raises - 3x12-15 + Tricep Extensions - 3x12-15

Phase 2: Weeks 5-8

Phase 2 begins teaching you how to apply vertical strength and power to the horizontal plane.

Day 1

  • Back Squats - 3x8-12 @ 70-80% max
  • Romanian Deadlifts - 3x8-12
  • Bench Press - 3x8-12 @ 70-80% max
  • Bent-Over Rows - 3x8-12
  • Standing Military Press - 3x8-12
  • Med Ball Forward Toss - 1x5

Day 2

  • Power Clean - 3x3-6 @ 60-70% max
  • Clean Pulls - 3x3-6 @ 70-80% of Power Clean max
  • Push Jerk - 3x3-6 @ 50-60% of Power Clean max
  • Standing Long Jumps - 1x5
  • Box Jumps - 1x5

Day 3 

Day 4

  • Dumbbell Power Clean - 3x4-6
  • Clean Pulls - 3x3-6 @ 70-80% of Power Clean max
  • Dumbbell Push Jerk - 3x4-6
  • Standing Long Jumps - 1x5
  • Box Jumps - 1x5

Phase 3: Weeks 9-12

The final four weeks incorporate speed, agility and plyometric exercises to fully transition your gains into the horizontal plane.

Day 1

  • Back Squats - 3x6-10 @ 75-85% max
  • Romanian Deadlifts - 3x6-10
  • Bench Press - 3x6-10 @ 75-85%
  • Bent-Over Rows - 3x6-10
  • Standing Military Press - 3x6-10
  • Technique Drills - 10-15 minutes
  • Stride-Length Sprints - 3-5x10 yards
  • Sprints - 3-5x5 yards
  • Resisted Sprints - 3-5x5 yards
  • Agility Drills - 10-15 minutes

Day 2

  • Power Clean - 3x3-6 @ 60-70% max
  • Clean Pulls - 3x3-6 @ 70-80% of Power Clean max
  • Push Jerk - 3x3-6 @ 50-60% of Power Clean max
  • Standing Long Jumps - 2x5
  • Box Jumps - 2x5
  • Med Ball Forward Toss - 2x5

Day 3

  • Front Squats - 3x4-8 @ 70-80% max
  • Good Mornings - 3x8-12
  • Dumbbell Bench Press - 3x8-12
  • Pull-Ups - 3x8-12
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press - 3x8-12
  • Technique Drills - 10-15 minutes
  • Stride Length Sprints - 3x20 yards
  • Sprints - 3x40-60 yards
  • Bounds - 3x20 yards
  • Agility Drills - 10-15 minutes

Day 4

  • Power Snatch - 3x3-6
  • Snatch Pulls - 3x3-6 (Power Snatch weight + 10 pounds)
  • Push Jerk - 3x3-6 @ 50-60% of Power Clean max
  • Vertical Jump to Sprint - 3x1 + 5 yards
  • Standing Long Jumps to Sprints - 3x1 + 5 yards
  • Med Ball Step and Throw - 2x5

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Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STRENGTH TRAINING | BENCH PRESS | WORKOUT PLAN | WORKOUTS | MILITARY | POWER | BENCH | CLEAN | PRESS | SPRINT | THROW | STRIDE | DUMBBELL BENCH PRESS | SNATCH