3 Strength Moves to Improve Your Power and Performance

When I’m training in season and looking to stay quick on the court, exercises that improve power and performance are the bread and butter of my workouts. In addition to doing track and field sprints with my trainer Seon Holmes to improve reaction time, explosiveness, and speed, I integrate functional strength training into my workouts.

From steps ups and lunges to crunches and sled pushes, the exercises below keep me on my game when I’m not shooting from the three-point line. These functional movements help me develop the explosive leg power I need to change direction on the court while developing functional strength and stability.

Below are some of my favorite moves off the court.

Dumbbell Lunges

I love this exercise because not only does it work on coordination, strength, and explosiveness, but the stretching and increased range of motion allow me to work on flexibility in my lower back and hamstrings. If you’re new to this movement, don’t use weights. If you’re more intermediate, aim for 10-pound dumbbells. If you’re an elite athlete, use 25-pound dumbbells.

Directions:
1. Stand with your torso upright holding one dumbbell in each hand.
2. Step your right leg forward about two to three feet, and lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor (ensuring your right knee doesn’t surpass your toes).
3. Exhale as you press through your right heel to return standing, bringing your left leg forward to meet your right. For an added challenge lift your left knee towards your chest before lunging forward with your left leg.
4. Alternate legs and repeat for reps. Complete 4 sets of 8-10 reps.

Crunches

A strong core is essential to balance and stability, two things I definitely need on the court, so I incorporate numerous ab exercises throughout my workouts. One of them is the following variation on a crunch.

Directions:
1. Lay on your back and raise your legs so your shins are parallel to the floor. Keep your arms straight at your sides.
2. Engage your core by pulling your navel to your spine and pressing your back into the mat or ground.
3. While maintaining a strong core, crunch your body towards your legs by reaching for your heels. Pause slightly at the top and lower yourself back down again. Aim for 3 sets of 20 reps.

Prowler Sled Push

Sled pulling and pushing helps develop strengths in the hamstrings, glutes, core, quads, and calves. I use sled drills to stay conditioned and build strength. The weight you choose should feel challenging but not impossible. Beginners should just use the sled (no additional weight). Intermediates should add 20-45 pounds while those more advanced should add 45-90 pounds onto the sled. Elite-level athletes can add more weight. If you have this piece of equipment in your local gym, give it a try.

Directions:
1. Load the sled with your desired weight.
2. Lean into the sled, extending your arms forward. Maintain an engaged core and neutral spine.
3. Bring your right foot forward with the ball of your foot in contact with the ground and press firmly and strongly to drive yourself forward.
4. As the sled starts to move bring your left foot forward to maintain your momentum and strongly driving forward with each step. Complete 5, 30-second-long runs.

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