The singular most important aspect in an athlete’s arsenal should be explosiveness, regardless of the sport. The first step, first jump; these determine who will win and who will lose. An athlete shouldn’t just be strong, but they should be strong faster. You want to be a compressed coil, just waiting to explode with power.
By becoming a faster type of strong, you will in turn generate more power. Creating explosiveness requires the body to recruit the most amount of motor units as possible. You want to have both strong and elastic type 1 and type 2 muscle fibers. Becoming explosive depends on more than just training, as nutrition and supplementation are just as paramount to reaching explosion goals as the training itself.
Obviously when you think about becoming a more explosive athlete, training is the first thing that comes to mind, and rightly so. Training to become more explosive is two-fold, with weight training and cardio type training. As opposed to physique sports like bodybuilding, performance sports are based on the actual performance on the field or court. Performing movements that are reminiscent and applicable to actual on field performance are the key to performing at a high level.
Training for explosiveness needs to be a program with a certain amount of volume and frequency. With a higher frequency approach it’s better to lower volume from an individual workout session. This ensures that the central nervous system gets a break but muscular workload can still remain high. Each movement should be performed three to four times a week, with mobility work done daily.
Rep ranges should fall in the low to moderate, with adequate rest in between sets depending on the particular movement. It’s important to have a program that incorporates both speed and power, in turn creating explosiveness. These two separate factors need to work synergistically to create maximum explosiveness that can be translated to the field.
This program is designed to be implemented three times a week with four to five exercise selections made from the following. Work in each movement once a week. Try to structure this so that you have a rest day in between training days. It’s important to remember that muscular hypertrophy is not the goal here.
- Work up to a weight that you can complete with 5 solid reps without going to complete failure. Complete this weight for 5 sets of 5 reps with enough rest in between sets to catch your breath fully.
- Dumbbell Snatch
- Complete 6 sets of 5 reps, really focusing on the isometric hold at the top of the movement. Engage the core throughout the movement and explode up from the bottom.
- Bodyweight Pullups
- Use a wide grip and fully contract the scapula at the top of the movement. Complete 5 sets to failure.
- Power Cleans
- If this is a movement you have never performed, take some time to learn how to do it correctly. Use a weight that you can comfortably get 5 reps completed. Slowly work your way up in weight and explode the weight up.
- Bench Press
- Use a pyramiding rep scheme where the weight goes up and the reps go down. Start with 8 reps, go down to 6, then 3 sets of 3. Use full range of motion and pause for a second at the bottom before exploding from the bottom.
- Cable Woodchopper
- Use a rope and set the cable high. Fully engage the core and pull across the body using a rep range of 10-12 for 5 sets.
- Overhead Barbell Press
- Starting from the ground up, explode through to the top. Use relatively heavy weight for 5 sets of 5 reps.
- Walking Barbell Lunges
- Walk roughly 30 feet for 5 rounds with a weight that is difficult to complete.
- Box Squats
- Think of your legs as a compressed spring and pause at the bottom of the rep. Explode up and complete a full range of motion. This should be completed in 5 sets of 5 reps.
- Weighted Back Hyperextension
- Use slow controlled form on the eccentric part of the movement and a powerful movement up for the concentric portion. 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Box Jumps
- This should be set at a height that is challenging, but not dangerous. Complete 5 rounds of 5 reps with very little rest in between.
- Kettlebell Swing
- Use a moderately heavy weight and complete 5 rounds of 10, engaging your core throughout the movement. Think of your body as one singular unit and do not just use your arms to swing the weight.
Try to work at least one main compound movement in for each session. For example: day one might consist of deadlifts, pull-ups, box jumps, and back hyperextension. It’s logical to place deadlifts or power cleans in more than once a week, but make sure these are not the main compound movement for both sessions.
Sprinting and Bounding
Sprints should be done every day that you are not in the gym. These sprints should test your cardiovascular endurance as well as your muscular endurance. Sprint no more than 100 meters at a time, with most sprints done in the 40-50 meter range. Try to “bound” when running, which means your feet are only touching the ground for a split second. Think of this style of running as if you were running on very hot rocks. Try to also incorporate some sprinting that is not done as a consecutive sprint, but also some shuttle runs and down and backs. By doing this you will gain lateral quickness, as well as stop and go speed.
You cannot drive a Ferrari without fuel. You cannot become a more explosive athlete without fueling the body with the right micro and macro nutrients.
Protein is going to be vitally important in helping maintain muscle mass while training with such intensity and force. You need a fair amount of muscle to generate the power needed to become an explosive athlete. For most athletes gaining weight is not needed, nor is it wanted. You wanted to create dense muscle without the added hypertrophy, allowing the body to remain at the same playing weight.
Carbohydrates are important in ensuring you have the energy needed to perform at a high level. A diet that is higher in carbohydrates than it is in fat and protein is important for athletes. Carbs also replenish glycogen stores in the muscle that is expended when training. Most of your daily intake of carbohydrates should be consumed around the workout perimeter.
Water consumption is also very important for athletes to ensure that the body is well hydrated to perform at its max. Consume at minimum one ounce per pound of body weight.
Think of nutrition as fuel, and supplements as jet fuel. To get the absolute most out of training, supplementation is also essential.
- Pre Workout
- Creatine has been shown to increase muscle strength and size, while also improving recovery. It is also a fuel source for ATP, a fast acting energy source responsible for explosive strength bursts. You want to ensure you get a quality creatine source, such as that found in Redcon1 Tango. Tango has three different high quality sources of creatine that work in different ways and speeds, ensuring you get the most amount of ATP production.
- Intra Workout
- A high quality carb source is very beneficial to be consumed during the workout. As discussed above, most of the calories consumed should be from carbohydrates as they replenish energy stores. During intense exercise glycogen stores are depleted and need to be replenished very quickly. Redcon1 Cluster Bomb has 25 mg of highly branched cyclic dextrin, a fast absorbing and digesting carb source. Think of this product as a more advanced form of Gatorade.
- Branched chain amino acids aid in speeding the recovery process in both time and quality. Redcon1 Breach is an amino acid supplement that also contains key electrolytes that are lost during training. BCAAs are essential for those training to their full potential, as they help recover the body more efficiently.
If you want to become a more explosive athlete give these recommendations a try and get the most out of your training, nutrition, and supplementation. If being a top athlete is your goal, explosiveness is going to be the one factor that could push you over the top. Don’t just become faster or stronger, become strong faster.