An overlooked movement that can produce serious results in the athleticism and strength of the legs. This is how you build elasticity and dynamic strength.
A real athletic physique is dynamic and elastic, the muscles are almost like rubber and the movement bounces easily from one step to another.
Athletes use a lot of different jumping exercises and plyometrics to develop this quality. Even many different machines are used that allow the athlete to keep utilizing the stretch reflex of the muscles and keep the movement going.
Learning how to develop and utilize the stretch reflex (myotatic reflex) is an essential part of athleticism. Myotatic reflex is part of the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC).
SSC is a spring-like mechanism of the muscles and has the ability to store and unleash elastic energy. It's something that can be developed and needs to be developed for maximal capacity.
The stretch reflex creates springiness in your movements and this springiness is a very explosive and energy efficient way to move the body.
When it comes to developing the body structure, you want to minimize the stretch reflex by using isometrics and slow tempo movements done with the utmost control. For the most efficient and free movement, you instead want to utilize the stretch reflex to the best of your ability.
If you are interested in learning more, you can learn more about the Stretch-Shortening Cycle in this scientific article.
The stretch reflex can be developed for all parts of the body. Movement training is incredible and overlooked for this. This time we are looking into one of the best movements for legs.
Bunny Hops Widths & Variations
The regular bunny hops movement is done with a shoulder width stance where the feet are pointing forward and a little bit to the sides.
We recommend keeping the hands glued to your neck or slightly touching. This makes sure you are generating all the movement with your legs and not with your arms by swinging the arms around.
The proper way to do the bunny hop is to stay low on the floor close to the ATG ("ass to grass") position. However, since it's very rough for the knee and hip mobility, beginners need to go only as low as they comfortably can and do the hops with straighter legs.
A lot of people think they are strong and mobile but doing the bunny hops properly can produce a crude awakening. Although beginners can do it, it's actually a very advanced movement.
The bunny hops movement teaches you how to utilize the stretch flex and how to keep the movement going without stopping. Your quads are under constant tension and need to contract dynamically in both concentric and eccentric phases.
Keeping a relatively upright posture will also work the spinal and core muscles a lot since you need to avoid bending over.
Once the regular version feels relatively comfortable (try doing long distances first!), you can easily switch the width of the legs to change the stimulus of the movement.
By using a narrow stance, you will emphasize the quads. Utilizing a wide stance where the feet are pointing outwards will target the groin, glutes and different parts of the quads.
You can also play with the depth of your squat, do sideways hops, one leg jumps and more. It's a truly versatile exercise where your imagination is the limit.
Bunny hop is part of Movement 20XX's animal movement flow routines and now you know why.
From Russian Tropak to Bunny Hops
Tropak dance, the squat dance starts at 2:17.
Your goal should be to have as strong, mobile and elastic legs as the Russians performing the traditional folk dance called "Tropak" – also known as the "squat dance.".
Traveling Russia, we have noticed that Russians have a great understanding of how to develop athletic and dynamic strength in the body, especially in the legs. This may very well be partly due to the heritage of the squat dance.
In the modern age, we have gotten so technical and sophisticated when it comes to developing dynamicity and elasticity in the legs that we have forgotten that sometimes the traditional and simple works the best.
Ultimately, to develop dynamicity in the legs, you need to be constantly moving and learn how to coordinate the muscle relaxation and contraction in the most efficient manner.
Bunny hops or the traditional folk dance Tropak accomplish this perfectly.
Now, go do some bunny hops and get yourself a new pair of legs.