What is a good strength exercise for kicking?

The back squat is an excellent exercise to help with the swim kick as it mandates an activation of core, gluteal, hamstring and quadricep strength to perform the exercise properly. In a gym, stand in a squat rack and bend your knees a little so the bar can rest comfortably on the back of your shoulders. Make sure the supports are located below you for safety sake. It is also very important that the bar rests on your shoulders and not on the back of your neck. Hold the bar with a wide grip so your knuckles are pointing towards where you are looking, and not at you. Keep your elbows pointed to the floor. Your feet should be hip width apart with a slight bend in the knees. Bend at the hips to start the movement, not at your knees. Bring your body down as is you are going to sit in a chair. Come down as close to parallel as you can, so your thighs are parallel to the floor. Do not come beyond a 90 degree bend in the knee though. And make sure that the knees stay over the ankles, and do not shift in front of the toes. This compromises the safety of the knee joint. Keep your chest up, don’t collapse forward. Once your thighs have reached as parallel to the ground as you can safely control, return to standing, initiating again from the hips and glutes. Make sure to keep a contraction in the abdominal muscles to protect the low back and breathe. Repeat eight times, then rest for 20 seconds and repeat again for eight times.
If you are talking about kicking a football or soccer ball then definitely pay attention to your plant leg. The most important aspect of kicking, is being able to trust that your plant leg can reduce force in a very efficient manor allowing max force production of your kicking leg to the point of contact. Basically, a strong, firm plant side will help produce more and more effecient power. Single leg exercises are awesome for this (squatting, lunging, step ups are great) just make sure to load your wait on your heel during the eccentric (on the way down on your lunges and squats) phase of the exercise. By maintaining flexibility in your hip flexors and creating eccentric strength and stability in your glutes and hamstrings, this will give you a great start!

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