I have recently taken a serious interest in competitive fencing, and I'm having a hard time finding options for developing explosive strength in the vastus lateralis of the pushoff leg. I've been doing repetetive one leg lateral jumping and explosive lateral lunging, but I would be interested in any suggestions you might have to expand my options for safely and effectively targeting this muscle. Any ideas?
The one leg lateral jumping and explosive lateral lunging you are doing are two good exercises. Here are some others you can try for the vastus lateralis:
- One Leg Side Box Jumps - Start with shorter boxes or steps, and work your way up to taller ones. Stand parallel to the box/step on your outside leg. Jump onto the box and then down to the other side, then come back. Repeat with the other leg. To make it harder, try jumping completely over the box. Start with two sets of 30 seconds on each leg.
- Dot Drill - Draw or imagine five dots on the floor in the shape of an X (two in the front, one in the middle, two in the back). They should be about 12 to 18 inches apart, depending on how tall you are. Stand on one leg on the back corner dot. Jump to the middle dot, then to one of the front dots. Then jump sideways to the other front dot and come back to where you started. Continue this in different connect-the-dot patterns for two sets of 30 seconds. Progress to one-minute sets.
- Abductor Leg Raises - Hook one end of a resistance band over your foot and the other end inside a door or around something stable (such as a weight machine). Stand perpendicular to the door/machine. Keeping your core muscles tight, your inside leg slightly bent and your outside leg straight, move your outside leg sideways as far as you can and slowly bring it back. Do two to three sets of 15 reps for each leg. Use bands of varying strength for progression. Alternatively, you can do this exercise on a cable machine with a strap over your foot.
- Figure 8s - On a football field (real or imagined), stand on in the center of the goaline. Sprint at a 45 degree angle toward either sideline. At the 10-yard line, cut back the opposite direction. At the 20-yard line, circle back toward the goal line. Continue making "figure 8" shapes and shorten the total distance traveled each time you begin a new "8." Start with three sets of one minute.
Hope this gives you some ideas. Good luck with your fencing career!