Over the years ballistic strength development has seemingly been a lost art with a great deal of the fitness community. Granted many box gyms and individual trainers and coaches are working to inject this particular form of physical training back into the fabric of many programs. After all, ballistic movements are great for keeping the blade (your body) sharp, for keeping your mind honed in, and for training us for real life situational fitness should such a moment arise.
Sharpening The Blade
Over the years I’ve found that incorporating ballistic movements into my training has helped to keep my body in a more heightened mode of physical preparedness. The implementation of ballistic movements has certainly enhanced the way I produce force for both the act of lifting, as well as for other performance related movements.
Ballistic movements are basically movements that introduce muscular contractions that produce maximum velocity and acceleration in a short period of time. These movements can be integrated into your strength and conditioning program to transform you into an athletic machine and it doesn’t require anything too complex in order to make it happen.
As a strength coach I always start introducing more ballistic type movements into the fabric of my strength programs once a trainee has developed a solid foundation of basic strength. Once an individual has mastered the fundamentals we can look at stepping up that trainee’s lifting and performance game by having them produce more ballistic type movements for the purpose of developing a higher level of control and athleticism.
To ease you into the process I’ve cued up this video here to help you introduce some ballistic strength movement into your training once you have gotten proficient in your development of fundamental strength. The following drill is to help you to train speed at which you perform a squat. This is known as a power squat and is a great prerequisite for getting you ready to perform a squat jump, or other rapid hinge movement such as a kettlebell swing.
As you can see it just involves a counter movement of swinging the arms back in order to create the necessary momentum to rapidly descend the hips. The key to performing this correctly is to make sure that your standard squat is stable and performed with a sound movement pattern before taking the reins off to go after this one.
We can now take what we’ve introduced so far and elevate it by introducing a movement with a slight variation of what we have already covered. With the power squat the principle component involves being able to create a countermovement by swinging the arms back while simultaneously dropping the hips in a rapid motion.
This is a perfect prerequisite for another ballistic strength movement in the squat jump, or box jump. The squat jump, or box jump are great options in that they don’t require a great deal of space or equipment in order to pull them off. However if you’re looking to cushion the joints and to perform the jumping aspect of the movement in a safe and effective manner I would recommend the box jump.
For whatever reason if performing the jumping portion of the box jump or squat jump isn’t practical for your situation then there are other alternatives for getting in your ballistic strength movements. Another great option may involve you performing a slam ball drill with a sand filled rubberized medicine ball.
Ballistic strength movements are tremendously advantageous for helping to us to maintain a high level of mental focus, control, and function with our bodies by enabling us to perform faster movements with speed and precision. Just like it requires intelligent progression and practice to be able to squat 600 lbs. it also requires intelligent progression and practice in order to perform power squats, box jumps, kettlebell swings, etc.
Besides the physical benefits of ballistic strength the movements themselves require little equipment and space in order to pull them off. In terms of practicality you can’t ask for a better option in terms of making some serious strides in your overall fitness and performance. The return on investment is huge my friend.
What type of ballistic strength movements are you implementing for yourself at the moment? Don’t be shy about posting up in the comments below. Stay strong, be better, and don’t adopt a victim mindset!
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