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Agile Athlete: Lower Body Exercises for Lacrosse

If you’re a Lacrosse Player, you know the impact strength and power can have on your game. It means more speed, more aggressive cuts, and explosive first steps – it means playing faster and dominating the play.

While all lacrosse players know they should be in the gym working on their strength, the real question is what is the work that specifically transfers to the field. 

The reality is, not all exercises are created equal. And, while some of the “weight room classics” are effective for muscle building, they might not be the best options for Lacrosse Players to develop the strength that translates to on-field performance.

This is especially true for lower body exercises – where we’ll see players default to either strictly the basics like back squats and deadlifts (not bad) – or old-school quad extension/hamstring curl machines (bad).  

If you’re a Lacrosse Player – you need to be developing lower body strength that let’s get stronger, faster, and more explosive. 

In this article, we break down the most valuable lower body exercises for Lacrosse Players!


Trap Bar Deadlifts are likely in 90% of college Lacrosse Player’s training programs. And for good reason, the Deadlift is one of the single greatest exercises for developing lower body strength and developing strong full-body chains.

As a hinge-based exercise, Deadlifts primarily load the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, etc). But it doesn’t stop there, Deadlifts also challenge the low back to stabilize the trunk, the musculature of the upper back to keep shoulders pulled back, and the forearms to hold the weight. The Deadlift is an awesome full-body exercise that challenges chains not just muscles. 

Moving the traditional Deadlift to a Trapbar or Hexbar shifts the loading pattern to allow athletes to train in a safer position that takes the unnecessary load off of the spine (1) while putting the shoulders in a more neutral position. 

Along with loading the body in better positions, studies have found that they also allow athletes to move the weight faster and ultimately create strength/power that’s more transferable to on-field performance (2).


The Goblet Squat is a hugely underrated exercise for Lacrosse Players.

Most Lacrosse Players likely started with the Goblet Squat as a youth player. It’s the perfect exercise for younger athletes to begin to build their lower body strength and start moving weights. But the reality is, all lacrosse players should be using the Goblet Squat.

Early in the off-season, whether working with an NCAA player or a pro – we’ll use Goblet Squats to get movement mechanics dialed in before adding any sort of complexity like a barbell. But even then, this doesn’t have to be light. 

Recently we had a pro who, based on his mechanics/training needs, strictly Goblet Squat all off-season. For some players’ mechanics, it’s more valuable to have a heavy (80+ lbs) and controlled squat than loading up a bar just for ego’s sake. 

Don’t sleep on Goblet Squats.


This is another all-time favorite. There are few exercises more valuable than the SL RDL for challenging that hinge pattern, developing single-leg stability, addressing imbalances, and building better structural chains.  

Lacrosse Players tend to develop imbalances throughout the body. While all athletes have a “strong side” – this tends to be exaggerated in Lacrosse Players (3). This is why we love unilateral exercises, and why we love the SL RDL.

The SL RDL is another hinge-based exercise that challenges the posterior chain, but it also creates an intense stability demand to create ankle-knee-hip alignment AND a braced core against an asymmetrical load. 

For youth athletes, this can be done with just body weight. While older and more elite athletes can use weight, with a focus on control instead of load.


We love the Front Loaded Split Squat for the same unilateral reasons as the SL RDL – but this time focusing more on the quads and lunge pattern. 

Similar to the Goblet Squat, this exercise can be insanely valuable with just a single weight held in a goblet. It allows players to focus on staying upright and braced, without having to focus on a barbell. 

Of course, this exercise can be progressed by increasing weight, – but one of our favorite variations is playing with tempo. Oftentimes, we’ll focus on 3-5 seconds on the way down, and then strong drive back up. 


The Reverse Lunge is by far our favorite lunge exercise. 

While typically athletes will default into a walking lunge (also valuable) or forward lunge, the Reverse Lunge has been shown to be significantly more effective for loading up and developing the glutes (4). Not only does this reduce potential stress on the knees – but it also creates a more effective exercise for Lacrosse Players.

This can also be done with a barbell (for heavier loads), two dumbbells (for added grip work), or even banded or body weight.


If you’re a Lacrosse Player that has access to a prowler – you should be using it nearly every workout. 

While Prowler Sprints are unbelievable for either power or conditioning and muscular endurance – a heavy Prowler Push can develop truly elite lower body strength. 

While this exercise can technically be classified as a hinge-based exercise because of how it loads the posterior chain, it’s super valuable because it specifically utilizes a sprinting-style mechanic – forcing players to use activation patterns and express force in a way that translates to sprinting. 


While this exercise might not seem like much – it’s super valuable for all athletes. 

Often called a Peterson Step Off, this exercise deliberately challenges the quads, and specifically the medial quad muscle – the VMO. 

The VMO is often underdeveloped in athletes, creating a quad imbalance that can lead Lacrosse Players to find poor positions on-field that stress the knee ligaments (5,6). This can leave players with worse off change of direction abilities, and more importantly at increased risk for knee injuries with aggressive plants and cuts (7). 

This exercise not only specifically challenges the quads/VMO, but it also creates a stability demand where players must maintain knee alignment and fight against collapsing inward.

We start even our elite players on a low box (12 inches) and progressively increase the height instead of adding weight.


This might seem similar to the “Step Off” but by facing the box forward instead of to the side, this exercise completely changes the loading pattern. 

While we love the Reverse Lunge for Lacrosse Players, this exercise is a close (and maybe better) cousin. 

While a reverse lunge can be challenging to control with a slow tempo for either youth players or older players with weight – the Step Up allows for very deliberate activation and control. This is because there’s no range of motion demand and no risk of loading up the hip flexors. 

For youth players, we use this exercise to deliberately challenge that knee control, and while we might not load up a lunge – we’re more comfortable adding a light load to this.  

For our older elite players, we use exercise a lot to push to heavier weights and really focus on loading through the hips and driving with the glute. 


There’s no better exercise to develop posterior chain strength than the Hip Thrust. 

Unlike the Deadlift which has an intense full-body demand (lower, core, upper back, grip. etc) this exercise singularly loads the glutes and posterior chain. This allows athletes to load up more than they typically would, without the same risk of failure or injury.

We’ll often see Lacrosse Players add significant muscle and strength when we add a phase of heavy hip thrust in their program. Studies have also suggested that heavy hip thrusts improve sprint times versus squats (7) – likely attributed to the emphasis on glute strength.


This exercise is a huge sleeper pick. 

While hinge-based exercises challenge the musculature of the posterior chain (muscles through the back of the lower body), oftentimes these exercises can be dominated by glutes. While this is overall positive (the glutes ultimately define your horsepower) it can often leave players with weaker hamstrings.

This is an issue.

While hamstring strength contributes to “pulling” the ground and generating speed in sprinting – eccentric hamstring strength specifically has been shown to be the number one predictor of future hamstring exercises (8). Because of this, we try to utilize exercises that’ll challenge eccentric strength the most – both to build a strong chain that can be used to generate more speed and to minimize injury risk. 

The Eccentric Hamstring slider has players sliding out (ideally one leg at a time) and 

These are the lower body exercises that we consider the most valuable for Lacrosse Players. Whether a freshman in high school or a first-year pro, each of the exercises should be in a workout program (likely each one weekly).


Similar to our post on the Top 10 Upper Body Exercises for Lacrosse Players, the next inevitable question is – what’s the best lower body or leg workout that I can be doing? 

And the truth is, there likely isn’t one. 

As we explore in Agile Athlete – full-body and integrative workouts are far more valuable than muscle group-specific workouts. All of the workout programs for Lacrosse Players that we build at Relentless are built with this philosophy of focusing on movements and kinetic chains instead of just body parts. 

We recommend full-body workouts to all Lacrosse Players athletes instead of upper/lower or body part specific. While this is worthy of its own article – we want to ensure players are hitting every movement pattern each workout. 

If you’re creating your own workout program, it’s valuable to understand what these movement patterns are. When looking at lower body exercises, we break exercises into three categories: hinge, squat, and lunge. 

Our goal for every workout is to ensure that we’re getting at least one exercise of each category. 

Hope this helps you choose more valuable lower body exercises that’ll translate to taking your game to the next level on the field!

Get to work!