The game of football requires exerting every ounce of your speed, strength and power to find success on the field. The Kansas Jayhawks exemplified this on their way to the 2007 BCS Orange Bowl title and a school-record 12 winsthanks, in part, to their in-season lower body strength training.
"In football terms, strength and speed is power; and without question that is the foundation of football," explains strength and conditioning coach Chris Dawson. "In order to build power, our number one priority is to work the legs and hips."
The Jayhawks train in four-week blocks during the season to develop leg and hip strength, which helps generate speed and power for those bone-crushing hits and highlight reel runs. Here's a look at their in-season squat progression and the ultra-intense rack squatwhich Kansas used to squeeze every drop of football power in pursuit of the Orange taste of victory over Virginia Tech.
|In-Season Squat Progression|
|Weeks 1-4||Parallel Squat|
|Weeks 5-8||Partial Squat|
|Weeks 9-12||Rack Squat|
|Weeks 13-16||12" Step-ups|
Rack Squat Progression [Weeks 9-12]
|Week 9||74% x 3||79% x 3||84% x 2||89% x 2||+WT x 1|
|Week 10||76% x 3||81% x 3||86% x 2||91% x 2||+WT x 1|
|Week 11||79% x 3||84% x 3||90% x 2||94% x 2||+WT x 1|
|Week 12 [unload]||80% x 2||80% x 2||80% x 2||80% x 2||80% x 2|
*Percentages are based on one rep parallel squat max
We follow an aggressive progression during the first three weeks, and our set and repetition scheme remains the same: 2 sets x 3 reps, 2 sets x 2 reps, and 1 set x 1 rep [add weight set]. In this add weight set, we are looking for our athletes to squat in excess of 100 percent of their parallel squat max.
When we unload in week four, we perform all 5 sets x 2 reps at the same intensity. During the course of the season we control the intensity of our lower extremity work using two variables: the type of exercise we choose and the percentage of weight we lift for the specific exercise.
Rack Squat Technique
- Set spotter bars in squat rack just above parallel
- Start in original standing stance in rack like you're performing a parallel squat
- Unrack weightand squat down to spotter bars
- Rest weight bar on spotter bars for one count
- Explode upoff spotter bars
- Exploding off spotter bar after a one count mimics explosion required on field from a standstill position
- Ability to initiate movement from legs and hips without the advantage of momentum, which a full parallel squat offers
- Keeps you injury-free and also develops and maintains power throughout the season
- Keep a tight back
- Drive heels through floor so weight is not forward
- Distribute weight over hips to maintain balance
- First perfect your technique and form by using lighter weight
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