Little known fact: time spent in the weight room makes you stronger but it only teaches you to be strong vertically. Think about it…benches, deadlifts, rows, curls…all movements that pit man versus gravity. This is effective, to be sure, but it’s not the kind of strength that you need for many real-world movements including running, dragging things or pushing things or people. For these tasks, you need to be able to exert force horizontally.
This article will give you three exercises that blast your entire body while focusing on the development of horizontal strength.
Kettlebell swings work the entire body and are great for metabolic conditioning but they also help to increase horizontal force because of the arc of the bell on each rep.
Do it Right: Grip the kettlebell handle with both hands positioned side-by-side on the handle and stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Pull your shoulders back and stick your chest out. From here, keeping your arms straight, push your hips back and allow the kettlebell to swing back between your legs. Without pausing, extend your hips explosively and allow the kettlebell to swing forward until your arms are parallel to the ground. Continue until you’ve performed the desired number of reps.
>> For strength, these should be done for 3-5 sets of six to ten reps.
The sled push is a pure expression of horizontal force and is an excellent tool for total-body conditioning.
Do it Right: Grip the uprights on the sled with straight arms. Keeping your core tight, use your legs to push the sled forward for the desired distance. Your goal is to maintain a straight line from your head all the way to your ankles while pushing the sled forward as aggressively as possible.
>> This is normally done for 20-100 yards, the amount of weight on the sled usually dictating the distances that are possible.
Resisted sprints make sprinting more difficult than usual. This means that your body has to recruit a lot more muscle fibers to cover the same distance. This extra recruitment can carry over to improve your sprinting speed plus it’s a great way to help develop more fast-twitch muscle fibers throughout your body.
Do it Right: The easiest way to do these is with a partner. Have your partner stand in front of you and place their hands on your shoulders. They should lean into you and keep their arms straight. Your goal is to sprint forward while they walk backwards and apply resistance to you. The resistance shouldn’t be so great that you can’t move – you want a bit of speed in order to focus on sprint mechanics and maximum power development.
>> Resisted sprints are done at max intensity for five to twenty yards. No training partner? You can muster similar results finding a hill with a 10 percent grade to sprint up.