The broad jump or standing long jump is an introductory plyometric exercise that can help improve explosive power. Although it is introductory plyometrics, I’ve categorised this as being advanced because you need to have some strong legs to control the landings for this one. You should already be very comfortable squatting and should be able to at least squat your own bodyweight before considering this as an explosive power exercise choice.
The walking lunge is a fantastic lower body option for improving leg strength in a manner than transfers to many life and sporting contexts. The nature of transferring weight from one leg to the other through periods of being on only 1 leg for support mimics exactly the demands of walking and running. Good lunging technique and strength will help you walk, run, jump and generally be a lot more stable through your lower body.
The Alekna, named after a discus athlete, is a similar core exercise to the deadbug but is much greater in difficulty. It is a great option for training your core to work to maintain stability through your spine as you transfer force and movements through your legs and arms – exactly the way your core should be working. It is still a good option for beginners as you have the ground to use as feedback against your back but if you are a total beginner you should start with the deadbug before progressing.
The deadbug is a great core and ab exercise when executed with correct technique and control. It is a good starting point for raising awareness of the core and a neutral spine as you have the floor to brace your back against and use as feedback. Take care to use slow controlled movements and you can integrate the breath as you move too to learn how the breathing can help create tension and stability around your spine.
The box squat has a variety of uses within a training program. I most often find myself using it when teaching beginners to squat with the barbell but they struggle to get the same depth as when using a kettlebell for goblet squat. It gives you a target to sit onto and to make sure you hit depth meaning that you develop consistent technique but also have the extra confidence of the box to aim for. Start the box at the height you can get to comfortably and as your skill and confidence grows, take height off the box so that it gets lower over time. Once you can consistently hit your required squat depth then you can take the box away and try free back squat.
The Push Press is a full body explosive lift. You can start to handle heavier weights overhead which gives greater overload than you might be able to achieve with just shoulder power alone. It also gives the opportunity to develop rate of force development as you skilfully try to accelerate the weight overhead! If you are an overhead or power-based athlete then the overhead press is perfect for improving power. It is essentially a more advanced version of the strict press and so is a great skill to start to develop to take your general strength training to the next level. Make sure you have mastered the strict overhead press before attempting this. It is a staple for Weightlifters to improve their overhead strength but it is also very useful for developing power that will transfer into jumping and throwing based movements.
The seated dumbbell press is a fairly simple exercise but unless you pay close attention, you can put unnecessary pressure in the wrong areas. As you can use the bench upright as a support to set yourself against you can normally lift a little more weight overhead as you take out some of the focus from the core. This is good for getting extra volume through the upper body and shoulders to bring on lagging areas.
The Chin-Up Negative is just a variation of the chin-up but it is a great tool for bridging the strength gap to achieve your first Chin-Up. The eccentric portion (or negative) is the lower phase of the lift. Normally we are 20-30% stronger during this phase, you can normally lower under control more than you can lift. If we focus on utilising this extra strength during this portion, we can get stronger overall which can transfer to the pulling up part too! This one requires a decent level of strength already to keep good control and the eccentric phase is the part that makes us sore so expect this one to be really tough and taxing afterwards if you give it a try.
The front squat is a great choice for your squat pattern if you are thinking about implementing weightlifting into your program or have athletic performance as your primary goal. It places greater demand on the trunk as the load is stacked directly on top of you rather than behind forcing the abs and quads to work a little harder than a standard back squat. It’s important to make sure you have the required mobility through the shoulder joint in order to effectively support the weight in the front rack without putting strain on any of the smaller joints.
The modified candlestick is an advanced core variation similar to exercises like the plank. It trains your core as it functions to brace and maintain a solid and stable spine. As you lower yourself under control towards the bench, you drastically increase the demand to stay tight making the exercise exponentially more difficult. This variation focuses on holding that isometric contraction as you change your body angle. This one is really tough and often performing 2-5 really controlled reps is enough to give you a good hit for the core.
Allan Young is a Personal Trainer and coach educator in Glasgow who operates Strength Coach Glasgow and is a 4x Scottish Champion Olympic Weightlifter.