The “Triple Extensors”: Run fast and Jump high!

By Dr. John R. Mishock, PT, DPT, DC

To run fast or jump high, you must have explosive push off of the “triple extenders” of the ankle (plantar flexion), knee (extension), and hip (extension).

The muscles that make up the “triple extenders” are the; gluteus maximus at the hip, the hamstrings (biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus, adductor magnus muscles) at the knee, and the calf (gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) at the ankle.

Maximizing the strength and explosiveness of the “triple extenders” will create optimal push-off lending to improved athletic ability in; first-step quickness, sprinting, and jumping (vertical and horizontal). In this article, I will review the best hip extension exercises, AKA “glut max.” A recent scientific research article reviewed the best exercises to strengthen the hip extensors. (Neto, J Sports Sci Med, 2020) The results below are based on the highest maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC). The MVIC is the gold standard in measuring muscle contraction activity.





1. Step-up and its variations (Step up, lateral step-up, diagonal step-up, cross over step-up)


2. Deadlift (single leg is great for working on balance)


3. Hip thrust (hip abducted to 30 degrees, feet rotated out at 30 degrees)


4. Full Squat (90 degrees of knee bend)

5. Lunge (front)

The above exercises also work other areas of the body, such as the “core” (abdominals, spinal stabilizers), knee (quadriceps), and ankle (inverters/evertors). The details are beyond this article’s scope.

As a physical therapist and chiropractor, I like to relate the movement to sports specific function based on the SAID principle (specific adaptation to imposed demand). In other words, the body will respond specifically to how you train. In that, performing the above activities unilaterally whenever possible optimizes balance and function. Keep in mind that most of the running and jumping cycle (60+%) is performed on one leg. Also, balance training is critical to minimize energy leaks (inefficient loss of energy and movement) and preventing injury to the lower extremity.


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Dr. Mishock is one of only a few clinicians with doctorate level degrees in both physical therapy and chiropractic in the state of Pennsylvania. He has also authored two books; “Fundamental Training Principles: Essential Knowledge for Building the Elite Athlete”, “ The Rubber Arm; Using Science to Increase Pitch Control, Improve Velocity, and Prevent Elbow and Shoulder Injury” both can be bought on Amazon.

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