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Training for Explosive Athletic Performance

Training for Explosive Athletic Performance


Why training explosively, regardless of whether you’re an athlete or not, will help you see the results you’re actually looking for.

The sad reality is, as we age, we lose muscular power at a much faster rate than muscular strength. Muscular explosiveness (aka “power) not only adds longevity to our athletic careers, but also helps us live longer. Without explosiveness, we’d be slower, less agile, and unable to perform in pickup games on the weekend. Essentially with no explosiveness there’s no athleticism.

To counteract this effect, wouldn’t it then make more sense to train explosively instead of repping out endless bicep curls during isolation workouts? Right. The problem is, too many people associate the word “explosive” with “youth” or “pro athlete.” In fact, many people I work with seem to think that the day you stop competing is the very day you should stop training like an athlete and focus on “general fitness” instead. Granted, I have no idea what “general fitness” even means, but I do know that in order to stave off daily functional decline, explosive training is unequivocally necessary and will actually yield better results than the isolation programs (maybe that’s “general fitness?”) you’ll find in your bodybuilding magazine.

Some of you reading this may very well be high school athletes, in which case you can train anything (be it strength, power, elasticity, etc.) and see increases in your overall performance. This is because you’re so new to training that any training plan at all will have a positive effect. If you’ve been around the block a few times though, you’ll need to do specific power training to increase/maintain your power levels. Why? Because simply training for strength will only enhance strength (low-velocity muscle contractions) leaving explosiveness (high-velocity muscle contractions) completely unchanged.

Yes, having both low-velocity and high-velocity contractions in your training program is optimal but the fact is that most people only opt for the former. Now low velocity strength exercises like bench presses, weight pull-ups, and even heavy squats are all absolutely essential training components. But to properly balance against those, the high-velocity training ideas below are a great addition to the beginning of any workout:

  •  Light free weights moved quickly using dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, plates, sleds, etc.
  •  Cable Machines exercises like presses and rotational work
  •  Medicine ball throws and passes
  •  Bodyweight exercises like plyo pushups, jump squats, and prisoner jumps
  •  Olympic Lifts such as cleans and snatches
  •  Agility Maneuvers like ladder, cones, etc.

To ensure explosive exercises remain, well… explosive, keep the weight, repetitions, and sets on the low side. Additionally, be sure to allow for as much rest as needed between sets to ensure high quality efforts each repetition. Worry less about explosive endurance (high reps, short rest) and more about absolute capacity and quality of effort (low reps, high rest).

That means, for the intensity of effort for each repetition, if you haven’t done high-velocity contractions, start at 75% effort and progress to as fast as possible (100%). If you have done high-velocity training recently, start closer to, or at, 100% effort.

How often should you mix high velocity training into your workouts? Well, whether you have a “high-velocity session” as its own training day, or whether you incorporate explosive exercises into the weekly routine, both are fine solutions. I would just caution against doing high-velocity training every single session if you’re getting back into shape or haven’t trained explosively in a while. Limiting the exposures to 1-3/week should be plenty.

It’s now clear that muscular explosiveness is critical not only to athletic performance, but to athletic longevity as well. If you want to continually get better you need to train explosively, regardless of your sport, for it’s the first attribute to go as you get older. Don’t be the all show and no go guy. That guy always gets exposed. Take care of the basics below to look and perform a lot better when it’s game time.

Medicine Ball Variations:

Appropriate Olympic Lift Variations:


To maximize your results and get more explosive 1R would recommend the following supplements:

  1. Optimum Nutrition Threshold Beta-Alanine – Will help increase your workout capacity which will improve performance and strength during high intensity training
  2. BSN Amino X – This preworkout supplement will increase muscle endurance and protein synthesis, while giving you with the needed push to take your workouts, and results, to the next level
  3. Cytosport Creatine – By increasing your body’s ATP production creatine will help you become more explosive, more powerful, and more athletic when taken before or after lifts

19 / 11 / 2017 1R