Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Explosiveness is one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot in martial arts circles, and in popular fitness publications. However, its a hard term to pin down - like many fitness concepts. By explosive power do they mean the amount of power a fighter can generate in a short amount of time? If so how long is this? Or do they mean the speed at which a fighter can produce maximum power? If so what compromise do they intend to strike between a full range of motion and a quicker half range of motion? The moves designed to increase explosive power vary very wildly, from box jumps, to clap push ups, to clean and press. The definition I find most easy to progress with, and most straightforward to improve, is the ease and the quickness with which an individual can produce maximum intensity. This requires both improving your cardiovascular potential, your power output, and most crucially, the ability of your body to move fluidly and powerfully as a unit. This last one is important, as you could have an explosive and powerful shoulder press - that is to say, you could lift a lot of weight quickly - without being able to translate that into speed or strength outside of the weight room.

If you are looking to improve your 'explosiveness', first off I recommend examining the way you approach your training. Think about lifting as fast as you can, while maintaining good form. It's painful for me to watch gym goers squeeze out rep after rep, straining themselves yet only lifting at the slowest tempo. Try to lift as quickly as you can until you can't lift any more, whether this is bench press, squats, machine weights, it is a solid concept that works for improving both your explosiveness, and your general strength. If you stop trying to squeeze out those last few reps, and just stick to lifting at your best, you'll improve your speed and strength more readily than if you are continually forcing yourself to failure for no other purpose than going to failure. Lift fast until you slow, then rest until you feel you can lift again at that same rate of power and speed - varying between a minute to two minutes depending upon how heavy you are lifting, and with which body part.

After this start to think about incorporating more full body moves, such as the clean and press, the kettlebell snatch, and the kettlebell swing. Encouraging your body to move as a unit with not only burn calories faster and improve you physically, it will also improve your body's ability to generate power in a single direction. Working your muscles together helps build a good relationship between them, so that you will find real world full body actions - sinking and springing, punching, kicking and sprinting - that much easier and more natural. The purpose of your weight training should be to increase the strength and speed you can generate free of encumbrance, that is to say, if you can do it fast holding 60kg, think how fast you can do it without.

These are just a few tips for improving your explosive power. If you do some research you'll find plenty of other, more comprehensive, guides for building this ability. What I will stress now though, is that all the training you do in the gym, should only be seen as supplement to training your particular art. Gym work is the icing on the cake. If you are training to be a better boxer, train boxing, if you are training for better sprinting, train sprinting, likewise for any other sport or martial art. Don't fall into the trap of placing conditioning before skill development. Focus on your art, then think about how your lifts relate to it, and how you can improve it.

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