Team USA knows that despite having some of the best setters and hitters in the world, they’ll need to execute a stingy defense if they want to bring home a medal from Beijing. That’s why Patrick Borkowski, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, has been incorporating exercises that strengthen the glutes and hamstrings and that increase hip flexor flexibility.
“Strengthening that area helps athletes get in a defensive position and perform multi-directional movements that are required to react to the ball,” Borkowski says. “Being able to move in different directions defensively is essential, so we make sure were doing things that will generate power from the hips.”
One of Borkowskis favorite exercises is the Rack Reverse Lunge. He has Team USA perform it once a week in the off-season.
• Un-rack bar from pegs, then take two steps back
• Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
• Step backward into lunge position, keeping weight on front heel
• Lower until back knee is almost touching ground
• Drive forward into start position
• Perform 6-8 reps on each leg, with a 90-second rest between sets
• Stay on toe of front foot during lunge
• Let front knee move over toes
• Hunch over; keep chest up and abs tight
• Step back with a stiff leg
• Perform more than 8 reps at once on each leg
• Use so much weight that it affects your technique