As an athlete, you know that programming is one of the most important aspects of your training to see major improvements in your speed, strength and agility. Today I’m taking you through programming lower body training for performance.

Athlete Performs Sled Pull

More specifically, I’ll be getting into how to program your lower body auxiliaries or supplemental strength exercises for athletes that rely on power and speed.

There’s many ways to successfully train for lower body power, and each strength and conditioning coach will have their own take…

So here’s what I have to say about it:

The bottom line is that you keep things basic and simple when designing your program.

Anytime I train my athletes, I’m looking to check off a few boxes in order to have them continually building absolute strength and power.

Let’s get into it.


I want to start off by looking at our training day-to-day, or what we call a microcycle.

In other words, a single lower-body workout.

Typically I start my guys off with their speed and power movements before moving into any compound or “main lifts” like a trap bar deadlift or a back squat.

These initial movements might be any sort of pogo jump, linear speed or acceleration drills and even plyometrics.

Think bounds, box jumps, sprints, etc. 

We always begin with these quick and powerful movements to prep the nervous system. This allows you to carry speed and efficiency through the rest of the workout.


Next we’ll move into our auxiliaries.

While this part of training is often overlooked, I want to bring your attention to the importance of accessory movements.

Think of each one as a supplement to all your main lifts.

I tell all my athletes to avoid just “going through the motions” on these accessory movements.

You should be approaching these with the same intensity that you do for your compound lifts.

Even though it may be a larger rep range anywhere between 8-10 repetitions, focus on using the same technique as you would on a 1 rep max.

I always tell my guys: in order to grow as an athlete and actually become stronger, take your your auxiliaries seriously.

I can almost guarantee that if you take the entirety of your workout with a more intense approach, you’ll begin seeing major improvements in your strength, power and speed.


The auxiliary exercises that you complete during a microcycle are going to depend on your main lift. This will usually be one of two major movements:

  1. Loading the spine such as a back squat
  2. Pulling from the ground such as a trap bar deadlift.

To pair the proper movements, you should work on whatever has the highest neurological demand.

What do I mean by this?

Your body and brain have a greater demand on them when performing a single leg exercise versus one where you’re standing on two feet. We want to get the most out of each exercise by training the nervous system at its greatest potential.

Unilateral Movements

Typically I have my athletes work on a unilateral strength movement first, or something that focuses on a single side such as a lunge.

Athlete Performs DB Lunge

Some more examples of unilateral movements could be:

  • Lunge (forward, lateral, reverse)
  • Step Ups
  • Sled March
  • Single Leg RDL

By working on one side of the body at a time, you’re able to pick up on any imbalances and strengthen muscles that are specific to single leg movements which you’ll encounter in a game setting.

Bilateral Movements

Athlete Performs RDL

After this, we’ll move back onto both feet for a bilateral movement which utilizes both sides of the body.

This should activate the entire posterior chain which is essential in all of your sprinting and jumping.

I like to initiate a hinge pattern with examples of bilateral exercises such as:

  • Barbell RDL
  • KB swing
  • Goblet Squat


Athlete Performs Back Squat

Considering that you should be training lower body about twice a week, your second training day might include more of a compound movement through the lateral plane such as lateral lunges.

Another focus on your second lower body day should include some work across the knee or the hip.

This is where you’re working directly on the hamstrings or glutes.

You guys know by now that my goal is always to isolate and elevate a particular muscle or movement depending on how advanced the athlete is and where they are in their program.

As you begin new movements, it’s important to establish the most basic motor qualities at its most basic variation.

Overtime, this will allow the athlete to have stronger and more neuromuscular patterns that lead to greater power and efficiency in all that you do.

If you skip out on the basics and rush to elevate movements too quickly, you’ll miss out on all the insane benefits that my athletes have experienced by using this principle.

How to Isolate and Elevate a Movement Pattern:

As an example, let’s use one of my favorite unilateral exercises.

Athlete Performs Reverse Lunge





From Basic to Advanced: The Reverse Lunge

The reverse lunge is one of your best bets when it comes to training a unilateral movement.

  1. Your first version of this can begin on a flat surface, stepping into your reverse lunge. Adding dumbbells will enhance the intensity.
  2. To take this lunge to the next level, you can start by standing on top of a plyo box and reverse step into your lunge. This allows you to deepen your lunge and increase your total range of motion.
  3. The last way I might elevate this lunge is by bringing on an axial load.

This occurs as you load the spine or in other words, have a barbell on your shoulders. By doing this through your reverse lunge, you have to transfer energy through the torso in order to support and overcome the weight on your back.

Eventually, you could even reverse lunge with an axial load from on top of a plyo box as previously mentioned.

If you’re looking for even more information on the right athletic programming for you, check out how to develop strength for athletic performance.


Athletes Perform Squat Jumps

If you maintain this basic template on programming lower body training for performance, you’ll see how quickly you can gain strength and power through your accessories.

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