No Equipment? No Problem! Build Explosive Lower Body Strength

By: Josh Bryant

You can attempt to hide skipped leg days with baggy 1990s bodybuilder sweats!

BUT, there will be no hiding your lack of speed, strength and explosive power! Strong and powerful legs epitomize functionality.

This is a churched up way of saying they transfer to pretty much any real-world activity that requires athleticism.   Even bench press specialists know the importance of leg drive!

Currently, you may be sequestered from the gym but did you know you do not need fancy equipment to build a strong and explosive lower body that will help you dominate on the field of play and while playing the field at your local community pool.

All you need is YOU!

In this article, I am going to lay out how to build strength and power with nothing more than your bodyweight!

See the workout in Action

Pause Prison Squats

This exercise primarily targets the quads and to a lesser degree the glutes and hamstrings.  Admittedly strength wise it is somewhat of beginner exercise but it teaches and enforces proper squatting mechanics and because of no downward compression from a barbell helps build mobility.  At the bottom of each rep pause for three seconds and make sure you are in proper position.  Perform this exercise for three sets of twelve reps, resting 45-60 seconds between sets.

Jump Squats

This exercise develops nasty ass starting strength and rate of force development.   Because when you squat down, you isometrically pause for two seconds at the bottom. This kills the stretch reflex so you have to develop force fast to get airborne in turn building starting strength and explosive power.. This exercise is performed for three sets of six reps resting 60-90 seconds between sets.

Make sure to review the written video but here are step-by-step instructions.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Start by doing a regular squat, stop approximately half way down, hold this bottom position for two seconds.
  3. From here jump as high as you can in the air
  4. Land softly with your knees slightly bent, then stand straight up
  5. Repeat for prescribed reps (think of a set of six as six individual reps)

Jump Tucks

Unlike jump squats that take away the stretch reflex, this movement enhances it because reps are performed in successive fire like a machine gun.  This is important because to maximize strength and power you need to maximally utilize the stretch reflex to your advantage.

Make sure to watch the video on jump tucks but here are step-by-step instructions

  1. Start with your feet shoulder to hip width apart
  2. Drop your butt back and down to the position where you can generate the most power
  3. Drive your arms up and push off the floor
  4. Lift your knees toward your chest
  5. Bend your knees as you land to absorb the impact
  6. Repeat for the prescribed reps

Nordic Leg Curls 5 second Eccentric

Strong hamstrings are synonymous with strength, speed and explosive power! There are well over a hundred studies on Nordic leg curls and if you are bored instead of binge watching Netflix I challenge you to do a search on the exercise in google scholar.

Strength and conditioning professionals in the field and the literature concur this exercise is also highly effective for preventing injuries due to its eccentric emphasis. This exercise additionally will increase hamstring hypertrophy and top end running speed. Perform this exercise for three sets of three reps, resting two minutes between sets.

Noah Syndergaard, MLB Pitcher performing the movement under Josh’s guidance

Keep the following points in mind

  1. Locate a low bar, railing or some sort of weight apparatus that can serve as an anchor or find a partner.
  1. Place your ankles under the partner or apparatus and brace your core.
  2. Slowly lower to the ground, for a steady five second eccentric
  3. Push yourself to the starting position and repeat.

Band assisted is fine if you do not have the requisite strength to perform the movement yet.

Head Nods

A strong neck aesthetically is the centerpiece of a no-nonsense physique, this lets predators know while you might be the church-going type, you can pull out their pancreas through their nose. Functionally, a strong neck serves as your insurance policy because it helps prevent concussions and other injuries.  Because of this we have included neck building Jailhouse Strong staple “head nods.” Do three sets of twenty reps each way. Review the video and see the previous two articles in this series to see an in depth technical analysis.

Final Thoughts

You now have the tools to build a strong functional body with nothing more than you. Not only will this help you perform better but you will be more confident in your three piece suit and birthday suit.

So, in the words of Mickey in Rocky II, “What are we waiting for?”

Grab the most comprehensive book on bodyweight programming ever assembled HERE , all you need is you!  Join the movement and become Jailhouse Strong