Many of us work on strength in the off-season. I like to also include plyometric exercises to challenge my anaerobic system.
This exercise, sometimes referred to as Box Jumps, is somewhat advanced as you first need to be able to do a single leg squat from a bench and you need fairly strong ankle strength and proprioception to incorporate all the movements. It’s a good idea to make sure you are ready for this by consulting your doctor and coach before you try it.
Single leg squats incorporate an element of balance which further challenges your core and small stabilizing muscles beyond what a two leg squat provides. In addition, single leg squats address any side imbalances and will not allow your body to avoid recruiting your glutes to perform the movement as your glutes must engage to prevent your knee from dropping inwards. This is the key to this exercise – maintaining the alignment of your knee over your foot and avoiding any instances where it might drop inwards during the exercise. If you can’t perform this exercise, or simply a single leg squat, without your knee dropping inwards, you first need to work on your glute strength with more basic exercises.
A video of me doing the full exercise is below. As you can see, when I did it for this video I struggled with balance. That is what is great about this exercise. It replicates the forces on your hip and glute muscles experienced during your run stride.
Single leg squats from a bench are a good place to start. Sit on a bench with your legs at about a 90 degree angle to start. Higher benches will make this easier and lower benches will make it harder. Using the glute and hip muscles, rise to standing on one leg, then stop there for the first version.
The next progression of this exercise is rising from the bench on one leg and then doing a single leg vertical jump immediately.
The full version of this exercise is to rise to standing and immediately explode off the floor and jump onto another bench.
This is an excellent way to build power and I thank Wolfgang at Endurance Rehab in Scottsdale, Arizona for showing me this excellent exercise. Have fun with it!