To improve your lower body strength and explosiveness, include squats and jump squats into your training regimen. During squat, make sure that you engage the glutes by sticking it out behind you (like there is a chair far back and you want to sit on it) and keeping your lower back neutral or slightly arched. Always keep your chest up, imagining a wire connected from the sky to your chest in any stage of the movement. During jumping squats, lower your glutes as low as your body’s flexibility allows (ultimately, you want get really deep without any strains or aches) and with a powerful muscle contraction explode and jump as high as possible. Land smoothly and slow down the movement with your leg muscles rather than “stomp” hard on the surface. You want to feel and sound like a big quiet cat.
Jump squats variations:
- Jumping forward, aka “froggie” jumps.
- Jumping from side to side with both feet together (like a downhill skier).
- Jump high up, open the legs at the peak, and close them before you land on the ground again.
- Jump high up and rotate 180 degrees at the peak. Land smoothly. Rotate opposite direction the next jump so you don’t get dizzy.
- Jump high up and forward while rotating 180 degrees. Be careful with the landing.
- Jump up on the bench or box. Land smoothly. You can step down, or if you feel are well conditioned, you can jump down as well.
- Split squat jump — one leg is forward, one is back. The landing looks like a lunge position. Explode into the air off both legs, switch them in the air before you land.
- Split squat jump from side to side.
Perform 30-40 seconds of each jump exercise. As you get fitter and stronger, work yourself up to 1 minute. Repeat for 2 to 3 sets for each exercise. As a variation, you can do each exercise just once, and then repeat the entire circle 2 to 3 times.