“Triple extension” refers to a type of exercise training movement used to develop lower-extremity explosive power and force production. Triple extension training involves the hips, the knees, and the ankles. When executing a triple extension movement, all three sets of joints move from a flexed (bent) position to an extended (straight) position. Thus, triple extension movements involve the flexion and subsequent forceful extension of the hip, knee, and ankle joints.
I am an advocate of triple extension training for the development of lower-body strength, speed, and explosive power, for virtually all athletes. Triple extension training is important for all athletes, as this movement is executed when running, jumping, kicking, swimming, throwing, hitting, blocking, and tackling. Specifically, jumping in basketball and volleyball: pushing off the back leg to throw in baseball and football; driving through a block or tackle in football; even pushing off during swimming and diving are examples of how this movement applies to sports. Because of its broad application, triple extension training is a great way to prepare and develop the body for such explosive movements by conditioning the muscles and ligaments for these types of movements.
Ultimately, triple extension exercises build lower-extremity strength and power, increasing the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground, providing the means to run faster, jump higher, etc.
The following exercises are a few examples of movements that employ triple extension:
- Olympic lifts, such as cleans and snatches
- Plyometrics, such as squat jumps and box jumps
- Traditional strength training exercises such as squats and deadlifts
- Non-traditional strength training exercises, such as kettlebell swings and tire flips
Because these exercises are higher intensity and require greater energy expenditure, they should be performed at the beginning of your workout, after an appropriate warm-up. Don’t go overboard with the amount of weight you use to perform these exercises. The benefits of triple extension exercises can be realized with relatively light weight. The key is to employ a full range of motion and try to execute each rep under control. Any of the exercises (above) performed with light-to-moderate weight can improve your strength and power.