We do it a lot in training, we hold certain exercises on a pedestal when it comes to training specific qualities. For example, squats are for strong legs, planks are for the core, and hip bridges are how we train the glutes. Of course there are major holes in all of these ideas, especially because training is really on a continuum. Huh? Maybe the best place to demonstrate this point is how we look at power training.
When I began training in the late 90’s, power training wasn’t really on the radar of anything BUT sports performance programs. Then we learned that power training was helpful for a variety of functional fitness goals. Whether it is helping optimize high intensity training, understanding power training helps us access the fast-twitch muscle fibers that are mores responsible for strength and growth, injury resiliency, and more. So, power training does have great carry over to many different populations and goals, but how should we see power a bit differently.
Right now, we hold exercises like kettlebell swings, box jumps, and power cleans as great ways to help our power training and they are. However, what most people miss is how to make these exercises more effective and more multi-dimensional. We often overlook the subtleties of what these drills can offer in the bigger scheme of things. Like what?
A great drill that is rarely heralded is the high pull. Sure, we can look at the sport of Weightlifting and see the high pull used to help teach the power clean and the both the technique and power to nail the exercise. However, the high pull can be way more important to overall power training than most people realize.
When we talk about power training most think of just what we are lifting and how fast we can do so. That is definitely part of the equation, but it is only half! Coming down explosively from a lift also is an opportunity to build power.
Focusing on absorbing force efficiently is a great way to build injury resiliency. As renowned strength coach, Robert Dos Remedios says, “we gotta train our brakes.” Now, learning to produce and absorb force from a stable foundation is important in understanding the technique and establishing that foundation. As DVRT UK master, Greg Perlaki will show, it is just the start!
Unlike the kettlebell swing, the high pull has a shorter lever arm so learning how to both create and absorb high levels of power training is safer on the body. It also allows us the potential to create triple extension as you see Coach Dos does above. That is the ankle, knee, and hip extension that allows us to optimize power training in action like running and jumping.
VERY often people go WAY too wide with their feet and pull too much with their arms. We can’t progress our power training without first establishing these good foundations.
Of course we never create power in life PURELY up and down. That is why learning how to use the concepts of power training in the high pull allows us to really open the playbook of our movement strength training.
Before we move forward it is important to help problem solve. The answer to getting better at the hip hinge can lie in the hip hinge movements that lead up to it. As Greg shows (scroll through), there are lots of levels to move through to establish that good foundation.
One of the best ways to help expand our power training with the high pull is to use a lateral slider. This allows us to keep our center of mass over our base of support. In other words, we make it a bit more gradual and as you see what Greg does is use the high pull to help feed into his cleans and then forming a dynamic full body complex.
Changing the instability of the high pull can be so incremental, like using our sprinter stance that forces us to produce and resist lateral and rotational forces at the same time.
Eventually, we really explore the full potential of power training by moving into rotational patterns. These are by FAR the most complex because we have to react to the weight of the Ultimate Sandbag and moving the feet quickly! The key is to look as fluid and efficient as Greg does. He really exemplifies what we want from working through our progressions when you make the complex look almost easy!
Functional fitness isn’t an exercise or piece of equipment. It is understanding how our body is designed to function and exploring the full potential. Hopefully these examples show there is no ONE exercise that covers all our goals, but we have a system and thought process how to move people through to more advanced movement strength training concepts!
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