The single most important movement and the most universal movement in every sport is the triple extension. This is when the ankle, knee, and hip are all extended in unison. Triple extension produces the maximum amount of force. Think about it: Basketball, you are always jumping to either rebound the ball or make a shot; Football, when you make a tackle; Baseball, when you throw a pitch. All sports are revolved around triple extension…. But does your training?
Triple Extension training is the most important part of an athletes’ regimen and the best way to do so is with Plyometric or Ballistic training.
Plyometric and Ballistic exercises are a type of exercises that train muscles to produce power (strength + speed).
Plyometric exercises involve a stretch of the muscles, immediately followed by a contraction of the same muscles, this is sometimes referred to as “jump training.” Some of the most common plyometric exercises are box jumps, split jumps, tuck jumps, and broad jumps.
Ballistic training is a form of training which involves throwing weights and jumping with weights, in order to increase explosive power. The intention in ballistic exercises is to maximize the acceleration phase of an object's movement and minimize the deceleration phase. Some of the most common ballistic exercises are med ball overhead toss, med ball side toss, and med ball broad jumps.
Now that we have a better understanding of what Plyometric and Ballistic training is, let’s take a look and see how we can incorporate it into training. Since the triple extension is an explosive exercise, it uses your fast twitch muscle and it should be performed at the beginning of your workout when the body is fresh. (I will go more in-depth on the difference between a fast twitch and slow twitch muscle in a later post, for now, just know that fast twitch muscles are responsible for quick movements and tire quickly)
Starting off your workout with 3 – 5 sets of 4 – 5 reps would be a great start to increase your power. When focusing on Ballistic training, you should keep the weight to a relatively light load, something the athlete can throw fairly easy, again we are looking to produce power and to do so, the movement has to be quick. If you use a rating scale of 1 – 10, they should be around a 3 or a 4.
I know what you’re thinking...
"But wait, if 15 - 20 total reps are a good place to start, does that mean you should do sets of 10 - 15 reps so I get more out of it?"
In short, the answer is No, and here's why:
Let's go back to when I mentioned "fast twitch" muscles. These muscles cause very quick contractions, fatigue very quickly and require an extended period of time to recover. If the length of the set is too long (15 - 30 seconds or longer) they fatigue and aren't performing at their full potential. If you want to get the benefits of Plyometric and Ballistic training, the sets have to stay short and the movements have to be performed as explosively as possible.