Use Combo Lifts to Increase Strength and Power

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Carl Crawford RDL

Combination lifts are a great way to improve strength and power for all athletes. The technique involves a heavy strength exercise, like Squats, followed by an explosive movement, like Squat Jumps. Combination lifts are proven to incite greater power in the explosive movement as a result of increased muscle and nervous system activity from the strength exercise. So, in the case of the Squat Jump, you will be able to challenge your muscles and jump higher.

Beyond the power benefits, combination lifts are a great way to maximize time spent in the weight room. Instead of separating strength and power movements, you can combine them to get a two-for-one benefit. Also, the exercises used for combination lifts are multi-joint movements, so you improve multiple muscle groups.

How are combination lifts performed? The key is pairing strength and power movements that have similar movement patterns and use the same muscle groups. I recommend performing combination lifts in all your strength workouts, but separate them into upper-body, lower-body and full-body days.

Select one of the combos below and perform it at the beginning of your workout. I recommend three to five sets of the combo. For the strength exercises (listed first), perform four to eight reps at 80 to 90 percent of your one-rep max. Then follow with three to 10 reps of your explosive exercise (listed second). If you use Olympic lifts, stick to three reps at 60 percent of your one-rep max. Make sure to rest for two minutes between sets.

Upper-Body Combos

  1. Bench Press + Explosive Med Ball Bench
  2. Barbell Bent-Over Row + Overhead Med Ball Throws

Lower-Body Combos

  1. Squat + Squat Jumps
  2. RDL + Overhead Med Ball Throws

Full-Body Combos

  1. Front Squat + Jerk
  2. RDL + Power Clean

John M. Cissik is the president of Human Performance Services, LLC, which helps athletics professionals solve their strength and conditioning problems. He has worked with all levels, produced four videos, written 10 books and more than 70 articles on strength and speed training. For more information, follow him on Twitter (@yourhpservices).

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