Let’s be honest. Spending week after week, year after year following a traditional bodybuilding program can leave you feeling stiff and slow. Have you ever considered adding in a day of “explosive training” to help transform your body into a more athletic version of itself? Adding in just one day of explosive training per week can have a huge impact on desirable performance outcomes such as jump height and sprinting speed.
Let’s take a look at how you can spice up your current routine and become a more explosive athlete. By incorporating a combination of plyometric exercises with power based weightlifting you can build a bigger, stronger body that moves as good as it looks.
It All Starts With Strength
If you have been lifting consistently for a few years you have probably established a reasonable foundation of strength. Ultimately, your level of strength will determine the threshold of potential that you can derive from further explosion training such as olympic lifts and plyometrics.
If you can’t yet squat 1.2 times your bodyweight for 3 reps then you are probably better off focusing on spending more time developing your strength rather than moving onto advanced plyometric exercises. The best way to develop strength fast is to use a high load low repetition compound exercise protocol. Focusing on the “big 5” lifts is best. These include:
Barbell Shoulder Press
Strength training activates the amount of motor neurons that can be activated during muscular contraction. Therefore having an optimized foundation of strength will allow an athlete to maximise the effectiveness of more ballistic exercises such as plyometrics. Take an athlete who wants to learn how to jump higher to dunk a basketball for example. The more motor neurons that this athlete can recruit in each jump attempt will have a profound impact on their max jump height achieved. Ultimately, strength training raises your potential for becoming a more explosive athlete. This principle carries over to any sporting feat that requires a significant power output (eg rugby tackle, baseball pitch, shotput….)
Plyometric Exercises: The Key To Unlocking Athletic Potential
Plyometrics are ballistic exercises that involve the rapid lengthening and shortening of a particular muscle group under load. An example of a popular plyometric exercise is a depth jump. In a depth jump the participant will step off a small box and spring up as high as possible, ensuring that ground contact time is minimised (amortization face). This style of training is also known as “Shock Training” which was first brought to the attention of the main stream media after the success of the Soviet Olympic teams success in the 1960’s and 70’s.
The original shock training concept was created by Dr Yuri Verkhoshansky who identified the huge potential of plyometric exercises to improve athletic ability in a very short period of time. Over time shock training has been refined to keep up with the latest findings in sport science. The popular Vert Shock program by Adam Folker is a recent example of how shock training has evolved from a simple training concept into respected and proven system used by athletes worldwide.
Plyometrics exercises essentially train the nervous system to respond at a faster rate. Specific exercises such a box jumps and bounding also optimize the elastic components within the musulo-tendon system. Essentially “plyos” add “springiness” to the particular sporting movement trained.
Adding In Olympic Lifts For Greater Gains
Adding in olympic lifts to your weekly routine can do wonders for boosting athleticism. Olympic lifts require excellent mobility and coordination in order to complete the movements successfully and safely.
In addition, if your mobility or flexibility really sucks, it’ll definitely make itself known as a weak link at some point. There is both an art and a science to mastering olympic lifting. So take your time to get it right before loading up. Once the body established the correct motor patterning you will notice that you can begin to add a greater load.
Start with more simple varieties of olympic lifts such as snatches. Due to mobility restrictions, many lifters find it easier to learn the snatch before the clean and jerk. Drop the weight and focus on form and rom.
Olympic lifts will challenge your body in a completely different way than your regular body building routine. Not only will they help develop strength and power, they’ll make you more mobile once you learn to do them well.
The Triad Of Training For A More Athletic Body
Combining strength training, plyometric exercises and olympic lifts can be a great way to spruce up your gym session. Mixing up mundane bodybuilding style sessions with more complex exercises can help develop functional fitness that is vital for sports performance. You don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy the benefits of explosion training. Everybody wants to feel more explosive and powerful. Now you know how. Remember get strong first, then turn that strength into explosion by adding in olympic lifts and plyometrics. This is a combination used by the world’s most dominant athletes. Now it’s your turn!
Author Bio: This is a guest post by A.J. Kenrick. He is obsessed with strength and vertical jump training and shares his passion on his site Vertical Jump World.