The squat is one of the most essential exercises in any strength and conditioning program.  Not only does the squat work all the major muscles in the lower body, but it also stimulates a large growth-hormone release, thus helping your upper body develop as well.  We are all familiar with the traditional squat using a barbell using a slow tempo (isoinertial resistance, more commonly described as constant resistance), but increasing the tempo, however, creates a ballistic movement.  Ballistic resistance training involves releasing the external load into the air without decelerating (note that your feet do not necessarily need to leave the ground to create a ballistic movement, the focus is on constant motion).  The most commonly used ballistic training exercise in athletic training is the jump squat, which many strength and conditioning professionals prefer to the heavy back squat for power development.

Researchers have favored ballistic lifts for power development, noting that the mean acceleration, force and power achieved are higher, which they suggest should lead to greater adaptations.  Moreover, there is no accompanying deceleration phase, as seen in concentric-only or stretch-shortening cycle movements.  This means that there are no sections in the whole range of motion (ROM) where the muscles experience a reduced level of activity and therefore are less stimulated.  Researchers have suggested that this leads to greater strength development at varying points in the joint angle ROM.

Here I demonstrate Ballistic Squats using the Bulgarian Bag coupled with the Suples HIRTS attachment. This variations for the back squat and front squat are shown using a traditional power rack that is found in most training facilities. Each rack may vary and set up may vary as well, but follow my lead as demonstrated and attach the bands securely to appropriate attachment points.  Please note that you will need to vary the attachment points when switching from the back squat to front squat setup.  I am using a 37lb. leather Bulgarian Bag with 4 red HIRTS bands. I could use the 50 or 80lb. bag to add more weight and could attach more bands for more elastic resistance to create an even more explosive power development movement. 

This is a strength/endurance movement for the legs and back. Legs are obvious, but there a significant amount of isometric hold with your posterior chain to keep you from being pulled forward while performing the back squat. Even though, I am leaning back, there is still significant force to resist being pulled forward.


- Coach Nave

For further reading and research on ballistic training:

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