Building Strength and Power through Explosive Movement

Feeling the itch to bring your performance to the next level? Lift heavier weights? Get stronger? Move faster? Increase your sports performance? What better way to bring your sports performance, athleticism, and overall strength and endurance to the next level, than through incorporating in an explosive movement routine! Our bodies are meant to move fast, and to lift heavy objects efficiently and effectively. Many of us separate our endurance training from our strength training. Imagine if we combined them in an explosive way? Bam! Next level.

It’s not just about getting stronger. We need power too.

Developing our Strength and power has been shown to improve athletic performance, building a strong foundation for all other athletic qualities. Training for strength elicits several physiological adaptations that contribute to increased athletic performance. These adaptations include:

  • An increase in muscle fiber size
  • Increased recruitment of muscle fibers
  • Muscular strength with power
  • Increased rate of force development
  • Anaerobic power
  • Fat loss

This in turn leads to the development of increased flexibility, balance, coordination, and the ability of an athlete to produce force and power. Increases in power and force outputs are likely to benefit all activities.

What are explosive or power movements?

Explosive movements are best defined as athletic movements, performed at high speed intervals. Explosive movements are variable, quick bursts, of maximum power output in a very short period of time. Sounds like a mouthful? These techniques provide for incredible gains, whatever your workout goals may be. Explosive movements help to jack your heartrate up, and get your body adjusted to working hard and fast at the same time. Explosive movements will help you to run faster, lift more weight, and jump higher! Think of using the most force that you can, as quickly as you can.

Strength alone is just about heavy lifting. Strength training or weight lifting often involves taking big breaks between sets, and there typically isn’t a time limit. You are building strength alone, but you are not building power. Whereas explosive or power training involves lifting heavy AND fast. You want to exert yourself quickly. If you want to get more powerful, speed is an important component to include in your routines. Explosive movements recruit more muscle fibers aka type IIA, and actually train the nervous system to adapt, so the muscles can lift more efficiently!

Some examples of explosive movements (although there are many more) include:

  • Box jumps
  • Jump Squats
  • Leap frog jumps
  • Lunge jumps
  • Weighted jumps
  • Split Jerks
  • Dumbbell jerks
  • Suicides
  • Overhead squats
  • Short all out sprints of running
  • Olympic Weight Lifting
  • Short all out sprints of cycling
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Medicine ball side throws
  • Burpees
  • Plyometric pushups

What better way to build your power? Explosive (strength plus speed) exercises can:

  • Improve physical performance during fast-paced sports
  • Reduce an athlete’s risk of injury during high demand activities with quick acceleration, such as sports competitions, CrossFit, and powerlifting.
  • Explosive movements help build up your ability to utilize high amounts of force over a very short duration. This in turn will increase your athleticism in all capacities!

According to Ben Greenfield:

“It all comes down to the fact that training for power doesn’t really train your muscles as much as it trains your nervous system. When you train for power, your central nervous system learns to control your muscles in a more efficient way, creating enhanced muscle utilization without the negative effects of too much muscle bulk. I like to think about it this way: power simply allows you to “fine tune” your strength.”

How can I become more explosive?

The best way to become more explosive is to incorporate explosive movements into your exercise routine, whatever it may be! Explosive movements are important for everyone, including the elderly! It can be as simple as just fast body movements for beginners, all the way to olympic lifting.

Here are some explosive movements, and burst type work that you can be incorporated into an exercise routine. These are all highly effective ways to increase your power!

Jumping Squats:

Complete (3) sets of 15, squats (breaking parallel) jumping up each time and landing in a quarter squat. This can be done with or without a bar! (demo)

Medicine ball side throws:

Complete (3) sets of 15 throws.Take a large medicine ball and stand sideways parallel to the wall. Throw the ball at the wall with feet firmly planted twisting the torso (great abdominal work). Have it bounce off the wall and catch it (demo).

Ball slams:

Complete (3) sets of 20. Use a small weighted medicine ball. Pick it up overhead and slam it to the ground (great for taking your frustrations out) (demo)

Box jumps:

Complete 3 sets of 20 on a 20-24 inch box. Be sure to fully extend your hips at the top of the box (demo).

Jump Rope:

Pick a time interval of 30-90 seconds and go all out and bring in as many jump ropes as you can in that time slot. Repeat this 10 times. If you know how to do double unders, this makes for an even more intense burst.

Jumping Jacks:

Pick a time interval of 30-90 seconds and do as many jumping jacks as you can while maintaining good form in that time slot. Repeat 10-15 more times.

Olympic Lifting:

Jerks, cleans, and snatches are all AMAZING ways to increase your power, especially when performed in quick sets (under instruction of a skilled coach) (demos)

If you want to bring your movement routine to the next level, increase your speed and power, recruit more muscle fibers, and run on all cylinders, give explosive movements a try. Incorporating these movements into your routine will help train your body to adapt and respond to exercise stimulus. You will not just get stronger, you will get more powerful!

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