Jul 13, 2017
Strong Foundation

Robby Stewart, CSCS, is Director of Strength Development at Competitive Edge Sports based in Atlanta, Ga., where he has worked with over 1,000 NFL players, as well as Olympic, collegiate, and high school athletes. We asked for his views on developing lower body strength.

What is your philosophy on training the lower body?

Stewart: Twenty years ago, we were trying to get people stronger and in better shape. Now it’s about evaluating the sport’s movement requirements, seeing how the athlete performs those movements, then correcting their deficiencies and weaknesses. In general, it’s about making the athlete more explosive, not just stronger. Explosiveness is what builds quickness. Now we do more cleans, more step-ups, and more explosive hip and hip flexor-oriented movements as opposed to just trying to get bigger and stronger.

What new trends in lower body strength and conditioning are you seeing?

Stewart: Kettlebells have been around for a long time, but people are jumping back on them again for unilateral type movements such as one-arm snatches, cleans, and single-leg squats. We also see more isolated single-leg work to train specific sports movements.

What lower body deficiencies are you seeing most often in young athletes who enter your program?

Stewart: Hands down it’s hips and hip flexor strength and overall body flexibility. So many of today’s athletes are home sitting around instead of out playing and doing the everyday things that build hip and hip flexor strength. I’m seeing a lot of kids who don’t have explosiveness in their hips and are tight in the hamstrings. I also feel there are too many cases in which the emphasis is being placed on the amount of weight lifted rather than proper technique.

What lower body corrective exercises do you use most often?

Stewart: I like squats, lunges, and cleans as multi-joint exercises that translate to building sport explosiveness effectively. Also, the glute and ham machines that are on the market today really target those areas well. I like using machines to help correct certain muscle imbalances, but whenever possible I try to use exercises that closely simulate the actual movements the athlete will be performing in his or her sport.

What role does balance training play in developing the lower body?

Stewart: If you’re working on balance and flexibility at the same time, you’ll see fewer injuries and a more well-rounded athlete with less bilateral discrepancies. However, I do believe some coaches overdo it with unstable surface work. You need to make sure you’re concentrating on improving balance when you use those modalities. The push for strength should not overshadow the athlete’s safety and physical well-being.

Shop see all »

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
website development by deyo designs
Interested in receiving the print or digital edition of Training & Conditioning?

Subscribe Today »

Be sure to check out our sister sites: