We were interested to find out what the best exercises for athletic development would be, particularly associated with football. I asked our mentor Laurence Bloom to produce five exercises he would encourage for people interested in improving their performance within a football environment.
Laurence is the expert for this specific question as he specialises in the physical and athletic development of elite football players. He currently is the Head of Sports Science at Charlton Athletic Football Club. His role is to deliver general (gym) and sports-specific (field) S&C programmes in order to optimise the player’s physical performance levels.
If you’re interested in football and want to enhance your athletic development, try out the exercises below…
Top 5 Exercises for Athletic Development
It is difficult to choose just 5 exercises as there are many good exercises we use within the players gym programmes in order to develop strength, power and speed. When selecting these exercises my thought process was to choose exercises that give the most bang for your buck, in other words tick as many physical competency boxes as possible within each exercise. I was also thinking about working the curve, so that we are hitting different elements of the force velocity curve throughout these exercises.
1. Overhead Squat
The overhead squat is a great exercise for assessing & developing whole body strength and mobility. This exercise challenges the mobility of the ankles, hips, spine and shoulders which are important areas for all athletes. When an athlete can perform the movement well the load can be increased in order to develop total body strength.
2. Hang Clean
The hang clean is a great exercise for developing power – working through the middle portion of the force velocity curve, building either strength-speed or speed-strength dependent upon the load being used. This exercise works on both force production during the 2nd pull and force reduction during the eccentric phase of the catch which are both essential qualities for athletic performance.
3. Box Jump/Depth Jump
The box jump is another great exercise for developing explosive power and there are lots of variations and progressions that can be made to the exercise in order to make it more complex and challenging for the athlete. Once the athlete can perform a good box jump and has good landing control then they can progress to depth jumps in order to develop reactive strength and speed.
4. Single-Leg Squat
The single-leg squat is a great exercise for developing strength, stability and mobility simultaneously. Most athletic movements are performed whilst on one leg so it is also important that we train in this manner, this will also help to build symmetry between the dominant and non dominant legs. There are also lots of great progressions that can be made in order to make it more challenging for the athlete.
5. Walking Lunge Series
The walking lunge exercise is another great exercise for developing unilateral strength, stability and mobility. It is a more dynamic exercise than the single leg squat that involves moving through the sagittal plane. Again there are a number of progressions that can be implemented:-
A) Walking Lunge with overhead reach
B) Walking Lunge with rotation
C) Lateral walking lunge
D) Reverse walking lunges