For lacrosse players, power is the key to playing at a high level. The more power you can generate, the faster you'll be able to do everything on the field, including sprinting and executing game skills.
Power is the combination of strength and speed. The faster you can exert strength, the more power you can produce. This is also called the rate of force development.
On the field, your rate of force development needs to be as quick as possible. "We are looking at very minimal time to produce force in game situations, with the exception of face-offs," says Carl Christensen, strength coach for Duke men's lacrosse and Performance Advisor for BridgeLacrosse.
When designing training programs for his athletes, Christensen emphasizes power development for this reason. You need a base of strength for power, but you need to be able to exert your strength quickly. It doesn't do you much good if you can squat 500 pounds but can't do so quickly.
Plyometric exercises and Olympic lifts are inherently designed to increase power. However, moves like the Bench Press and Squat can also increase power—if you focus on moving the barbell or dumbbells under control at a high speed.
"Whether it's a power exercise or a move that's strength-oriented, we are always looking to produce a high level of power and increasethe rate of force development," Christensen says. "That's one of the primary ways we try to become faster and more powerful in the weight room."
When adding power exercises to your program, always perform them toward the beginning of your workout, right after your dynamic warm-up, because you don't want your muscles to be fatigued. Christensen advises lifting at sub-maximal loads, anywhere between 40 and 70 percent of your max. If you're stronger, you should lift on the lower end of the range. No matter what, make sure you can perform the concentric portion of the lift (e.g., pressing the bar off your chest during a Bench Press or driving up out of a Squat) as explosively as possible with speed. If the bar slows down, lower the weight.
Below are five exercises Christensen recommends for lacrosse players to develop explosive power that will translate to improved on-field performance.
Single-Arm Dumbbell Snatch
A variation of the Snatch, this move will improve full-body explosive power. It's also relatively easy to learn compared to the traditional Barbell Snatch, making it a great exercise for beginners.
Barbell Power Clean
Another Olympic lift, the Power Clean is one of the fundamental and most commonly prescribed lifts to develop power. It trains the triple extension of the hips, knees and ankles, a movement sequence used in many athletic skills, including sprinting, jumping and, in lacrosse, shooting a ball or checking an opponent.
Single-Arm Med Ball Throwdown
This exercise improves upper-body power. The throwdown motion is similar to how you shoot a ball, making this a great move to increase shot velocity.
Incline Streamline Push-Up
This upper-body plyo movement increases pushing power, just what you need to unleash strong and powerful checks on your opponents to knock them out of position or off the ball.
Weight Vest Power Step-Up
The Power Step-Up trains your legs to explode one at a time, important for acceleration and changing directions powerfully. It also ensures both your legs are equally powerful so you can shoot effectively off either one.
To learn more about the program and get custom lacrosse workouts created by elite experts, go to BridgeAthletic.com.