If you participate in a sport that demands leg speed, you need to develop power as well as strength. Despite some similarities, there is a significant difference between having powerful legs and strong legs. Powerful workouts train you to press a huge amount of weight in a short amount of time. Your current training regimen might have to change, but our personal trainers can help you devise a speed and power-training plan.
Muscle Fibre Types
Skeletal muscles consist of three main fibre types:
1) Slow twitch fibres are responsible for muscular strength and endurance.
2) Intermediate twitch fibres have a combination of both slow and fast twitch fibres.
3) Fast twitch fibres are responsible for the speed of muscular contraction. They move 10 times faster than slow-twitch fibres. To increase your speed, you must do exercises that engage these fibres.
Even bodybuilder type strength and power can’t compensate for wimpy lower-leg muscles. Since all running, jumping, sprinting and skipping movements initiate in your feet, ankles and calves, your lower legs need special attention. For speed-specific gastronemius strength and power, do three 30-second sets of rat-ta-tats. For this exercise, you rise up on your toes and sprint in place. Do one set with your feet facing straight ahead, one with your legs externally rotated, and one with your legs internally rotated.
Your fast-twitch muscle fibres love the squat, especially these variations. Start with heavy barbell squats, using a weight that allows you to perform no more than eight repetitions. Next, get rid of the weight and perform another set, as fast as you can. Set a timer and see how many you can do in 30 seconds. The next set involves plyometrics. Spring into the air and land with your knees deeply bent in the squat position. Some trainers might have you do box jumps, to add some jumping depth.
Leg Press Variations
The leg press offers an alternative if your knees prevent you from getting enough depth on the squat. In fact, workout coach Tim Grover teaches his NBA client Dwyane Wade some pretty gruesome leg press variations. In lieu of pressing the weight out and bringing it slowly back in, he has Wade do the exercise with unilateral leg movements, which involve rhythmic “jumping” of his feet in the transitions, in order to change legs. Your personal trainer might also put you on the leg press machine if you have upper body alignment and core stability issues, since a flailing upper torso wastes the precious energy which can be better used for speed.
These exercises are challenging, and require a personal trainer’s expertise and supervision. Call (08) 9272 7359 now and let one of our personal trainers help you create a speed and power training program that fits your fitness and athletic needs.