Getting a bobsled to accelerate from a dead stop requires tremendous speed and muscle – especially in the lower body. Strong hips and legs are necessary for that explosive first push.
“Explosive power training is at the core of how our elite athletes prepare for bobsled and skeleton competitions,” said Darrin Steele, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.
Want to train like a bobsledder and build solid lower body strength? These four leg workouts are as good as gold.
Squats not only build strength in your legs and hips, they engage nearly every muscle in your body. Start with your legs shoulder-width apart and hold your arms out in front of you while keeping your back straight. Then bend with your knees at a 90-degree angle – like sitting back in a chair – and slowly rise back to your starting position. Never let your knees extend past your toes, which can increase the likelihood of knee damage.
To increase the difficulty of this exercise, many athletes use a dumbbell. The back squat and front squat are the two most common variations. But if you’re not experienced using heavy weights, don’t try this without an experienced trainer. You’ll still get a great workout without the weights.
The deadlift will develop your hamstrings and lower back. Though this exercise is typically performed using a dumbbell, you can also use hand weights. Start in a squat with your thighs parallel to the floor and your weights on the floor in front of you. Make sure your knees are directly over your feet – don’t let them go past your toes. Then, grip the weights and push your body into a standing position, before returning to the squat.
When performing this exercise it is important to push your body up using the glutes and hamstrings in your lower body. Do not pull weights off of the ground using your arms or upper back. Watch this demonstration to make sure that you are performing the exercise correctly.
Lunges are a great way to develop core and leg strength while increasing hip flexibility. But proper form is essential for minimizing the risk of injury. Stand with your legs shoulder width apart. Step forward with your right foot so that the middle of your knee is directly above your ankle. Lower your hips so that your knee is at a 90-degree angle. Make sure that both hips are facing towards the front and your back is straight. Return to starting position and repeat with your left leg. Try holding weights in each hand to increase difficulty.
With the glute-ham raise, you can build muscle in your hamstrings, glutes and lower back. This exercise will not only improve your squat, deadlift and power clean, but it will also help you jump higher and run faster.
Glute-ham raises require equipment, so you will need access to a gym for this one. Start facedown with your body parallel to the floor and your thighs in contact with the largest pad. Your ankles should be on the two smaller pads. Use your hamstrings to raise your torso and keep your back as straight as possible throughout the exercise. To check your form, watch this demonstration from the University of Portland’s athletics department.
Always stretch out muscles before and after exercising to decrease the risk of injury. If you are just starting out with heavy weights and dumbbells, ask a trained professional to guide you through the movements before trying them on your own.
Do you have any leg strength building exercises or tips to share? Post a comment below.
Check out more of Ariana’s Tips and read about her health journey on Actively Northwest.