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Bust through Plateaus with an Explosive Warm Up

Performing 2-3 sets of 1 exercise at the end of your warm up could dramatically increase your power and strength in your training session.

Crazy right?

I’ve already dove head-first into warm ups, you can find those here: Part 1 and Part 2, but there is one portion of the warm-up that will have a lasting impact on your workout.

I’m talking nervous system activation.

The central nervous system is your body’s computer, the central processing unit. It controls all the activities of the body.
The nervous system is the key to unlocking gains in the gym. Muscles leave much to be desired, as it’s is theorized that voluntary muscles contract at about 30% of their total ability.


We’ve all heard stories of superhuman strength where someone lifts a 3,500 lb car off a loved one. This is due to adrenaline up-regulating the nervous system to maximize muscular strength. These extraordinary feats show the power a fully engaged of the nervous system.

Note: Before going further, it’s important to note I’m not talking about creating a life/death experience in a warm up to jack up your strength.

So if we are only using say, 30% of our potential muscular strength, what would an extra 4-5% percent do for sports performance or workouts in the gym?

And what if our muscles contracted faster, getting to maximal activation faster?

Neuromuscular Readiness

Performing an explosive warm-up before your main exercise of the day will ignite your central nervous system (CNS) and maximize your strength.


Using explosive movements prior to your heavy training will prepare and teach your body to move with maximal velocity and force due to the increased rate of firing from the previous exercise.

Power= Force X Distance

The faster you can contract the muscles the more muscle fibers recruited, and the stronger are. It’s vital that these exercises are not performed to fatigue, rather short duration (5-8 reps), maximum intensity, and plenty of rest.

Practical Application

A good warm up should  wake up your muscles and central nervous system to  maximize performance during your workout. The activities in your explosive warm up should mimic the body positions and movements in your training, and explosive movements that mimic those patterns are best.

Based on your major exercise of the day, select a matching explosive movement pattern:

Main Exercise:                     Explosive Movement:

Bench Press                             Clap Push Up, medicine ball chest pass

Shoulder Press                        Overhead medicine ball slam/ throw

Squat                                         Vertical jump, box jump

Deadlift                                     Broad jump, kettlebell swing

Photography by Ryan Dial
Photography by Ryan Dial

Perform 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps after your warm-up — directly before the start of your training session. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets, focusing on maximum intensity on each rep.


Wrap Up:

What good is all that strength if you can’t generate it quickly? An explosive warm-up will help shatter strength plateaus, sprint away from your competition, and build more muscle. Implement the simple movements warm-up movements for explosive growth!

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/hotmeteor/210180257/”>Hot Meteor</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

18 Ways to Build Muscle, Lose Fat, and Rule the Freakin’ World


1. Be goal oriented

Pick a goal and go all in towards that goal. Start small and keep your goals written down somewhere visible where you see it each day.

2.  Perform Hill Sprints

Hill sprints are grueling hard work that simultaneously toughens your body and mind. Start at 2 days of 4-6 60-80 meter hill sprints to build a chiseled physique and regain your athleticism.

3. Train Movements First, not muscles

Train the body through a variety of movements such as squatting, hip hinging (deadlift), vertical pressing, vertical pulling, horizontal pushing, horizontal pulling, lunging, jumping, hopping, and skipping. Bringing up lagging body parts through assistance work can be beneficial especially if your goals are aesthetics only, but everyone should be able to perform these movements with some proficiency.

4. Perform Soft Tissue Work

Foam rolling and other soft tissue work is one of the best ways to improve your movement quality and decrease pain. Soft tissue work improves the quality of the muscle to support better mobility and flexibility.

5. Perform Glute Work

Low back pain can be crippling, especially if you are looking to rule the world. The most common reason for low back pain is inactive and weak glutes. Train that booty with hip thrusts, lunge variations, bridges, and squats and feel it working!

6. If something hurts, stop doing it

Pain is a warning sign that something is not right, we can all agree on that. Unfortunately, most gym goers think no pain no gain. WRONG! If your Ferrari started smoking under the engine and the check engine light ison would you say screw it? Hell no you get it fixed.

7. Jump

Jumping is a great way to maintain explosive power, quickness, and coordination. You can jump rope, perform jumping jacks, box jumps, it doesn’t matter. Just make sure you perform some variations of jumping!

8. Train Outside

Training outside is liberating and refreshing. Perform hills sprints, a bodyweight circuit, or grab some sandbags, kettlebells, and some friends and see what you come up with. Get creative and have fun!

9. Include Low Rep Training in your workouts

Training with lower reps 1-5 and higher intensity will build strength and explosiveness, two very important traits in having a healthy, athletic, world dominating physique.

10. Deadlift

Learn to do it correctly and it is the most “Functional,”badass movement you can perform. Picking heavy things off the ground is vital!

11. Focus on Posture and Form

Never ever ever ever ever round your shoulders or lower back when lifting or doing anything else. This will lead to injuries when lifting and poor posture with everything else. Use a flat back and big chest.

12. Eat Dead Animals

Nuff’ Said

13. Warm Up

Perform a warm up of foam rolling, jump rope 100x, 3-D Lunges, pushups, medicine ball throws, and jumps. These will loosen you up, increase blood flow, improve movement quality, and ramp up your nervous system to increase your strength.

14. Challenge your grip

A strong grip and forearms are awesome, who doesn’t envy Popeye? Use Fat Gripz, Grip 4orce, plate pinches, farmer walks, or wrap towels around bars and dumbbells.

15. Stop Performing Burn-outs

Performing exercise to failure on a consistent basis just leads to a fatigued CNS and eventual burn out and injuries. Performing sets to failure is okay on occasion, but keep it to every few weeks.

16. Pick out an exercise program and stick to it

Switching from program to program will keep you from your goals. Learn to spot a good program such as 5/3/1 and stick with it for 12 weeks minimum. Pick productive basic exercises and master them.

17. De-load

Take a week every 4-8 weeks (more frequent if you lift heavy), and back down the volume, intensity, or both. This will keep you motivated while preventing injuries and burnout.

18. Keep in touch with Friends and Family

Maintaining relationships with the people who helped mold you is a great way to relax and keep a good perspective on life. Healthy relationships are vital to a healthy body and mind.

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