The Squat Jump is a great exercise for power development but this is the first one that I’d classify as intermediate to advanced. It is really only appropriate if you are training for sports or athletic performance as your primary outcome. More advanced athletes looking to develop power and particular how fast they can develop power will find the loaded squat jump a very useful tool. You must make sure that you have a strong squatting pattern and sounds jumping and landing mechanics before even considering loaded jumps like these as the forces start to multiple putting you at a higher risk if you are not in control.
The chin-up is the ultimate upper body pulling exercise. It requires a lot of strength to do though as unlike most other resistance exercises, we can’t change the load – we weigh what we weigh! It works the muscles of the upper back and the arms while the whole body has to work on keeping tight and maintain tension so that it can be transferred from the working muscles.
The lunge pattern can be a tricky one to learn, it is essentially a single leg version of a squat so a lot of strength and control is required before you are able to do them unassisted. When you are ready, the reverse lunge is a great place to start. It sets you up square and encourages you to load the right muscles and keep good alignment throughout. There are many variations to how you can load it from using suspension straps to assist the movement all the way to loading weight through a barbell on your back.
The vertical jump is a great exercise for developing power when carried out with the intent to jump as high as possible. It requires no equipment but there are a few things to bear in mind to ensure you keep it safe and effective. Really, the vertical jump exercise is for anyone but I would recommend having some basic knowledge and strength during a loaded squat. This will allow you to safely decelerate and control your body positions during landing.
The dip is the king of all upper body pushing strength building exercises in my opinion. It is a similar motion to a bench press and is essentially a much harder pressup. Inherently the dip has a pretty high level of strength for it even to be an option. If you are benching around 80% 9f your bodyweight and pressups just aren't challenging you anymore then it might be time go consider progressing to dips. They are the best assistance exercise you can do to improve strength in the bench and I would argue are a better option altogether if athletic performance is your goal.
The Snatch Deadlift is not only for Olympic Weightlifters, it can be utilised to challenge the back and legs more than a conventional deadlift allowing you to get stronger while lifting lighter loads. That said, if you struggle to get into a good position to deadlift with a normal grip then chances are you are not ready for the Snatch Deadlift. The wider hand position makes it more like a deficit deadlift in terms of positioning as you effectively shorten the arms having them out wide.
The plank is a great exercise for the core when you set up and perform it correctly. It helps teach you to keep tight through your fully body while you start to add in movement through the hips or shoulders which forms the basis of pretty much all resistance training exercises.
Although fairly simple, the plank is easily executed poorly. Check out some of the tips below for getting the most out of the plank. Once you can comfortably do 1 minute per set then it might be time to consider much more advanced options for progression.
The Single Arm Row is my favourite upper body pulling exercise. By having your feet square and 3rd point of contact through your non-working arm, you can create a really stable position to lift heavy weights. It is for everyone, there is only a very low body awareness required to be able to perform this movement safely. You need minimal equipment too, a dumbbell and then something sturdy to lean on and you are good to go. This exercise gets your core working hard to brace and to resist rotation, you will feel it in your oblique’s the next day if you work hard to resist excess rotation. With 3 points of contact for support, you are really able to isolate your big pulling muscles of the back and arms. It will also raise awareness of any side to side deficiencies.
The box jump is a great introductory plyometric and power exercise. It is growing increasingly popular but is often done poorly or with inappropriate and excessive risk. Once you have mastered a bodyweight squat and can control your body through the full range you are able to progress to introductory plyometric like the box jump. The focus should be on controlling the landing before progressing to jumping onto higher boxes. The box jump forces the muscles of the lower body to work together rapidly to develop the force to get you flying into the air. This makes it great for power development, speed of movement and for intermuscular co-ordination (how well your muscles cooperate).
The Bench Press is probably the single exercise that most people who have set foot in a gym have performed. That said, it is often done poorly or without much thought. Read on to find out some key tips and to see if it is something that will benefit you. It doesn’t require a great deal of mobility or pre-requisite strength. If you can lift the bar in a control manner for the bench press then you are ready to get started. As it is so effective, it should form a staple movement in just about every gym program. It effectively works the pushing muscles of the upper body and is probably one of the best all round upper body exercises. You can use it to build strong chest, shoulders and triceps and is particularly useful to help build up the strength to do a pushup or to make them feel even easier.
Allan Young is a Glasgow based Personal Training who runs Strength Coach Glasgow and is a 4x Scottish Champion Olympic Weightlifter.