I think you’ll agree with me when I say:
Lifting more weight and adding some high-performance muscle is a pretty common goal.
But what happens when you don’t have Olympic bars, bumper plates, and all the necessary equipment? Unfortunately, some people throw in the towel and digress to subpar training methods that aren’t nearly as effective.
But not you.
You find a way.
Today, I’m going to help you with my latest post on T-Nation.com by hooking you up with four exercises to build explosive power, even if you don’t have a barbell or dumbbells.
4 Explosive Exercises to Make You a Beast… What you Need to Know
- In the short term, explosive exercises activate high-threshold motor units to recruit more muscle during your training. More recruitment means more weight and more muscle.
- In the long-term, explosive exercises allow you to recruit more muscle fibers with less effort. This makes it easier to smash heavy weights.
- You can maximize this muscular recruitment by lifting more heavy stuff, or by lifting, jumping, or throwing lighter stuff faster.
Hey guys, i’ve got some exciting stuff today. I reached out to one of my idols in the Fitness industry Tony Gentilcore a few weeks ago to write a guest post. I anxiously waited around my email, checking constantly and drinking vodka to pass the time– okay, not really vodka– until I got a response. Tony was a very down-to earth dude and was thankful to have my contributions.
I was pretty jacked, I might have even peed a little. Okay, joking again, that’s weird.
Anyways, I’d really appreciate it if you would head over to his site and check out the post and drop me a comment.
Ready? See you there.
Creatine: What’s the Deal?
Creatine. We’ve all heard about it, but what’s the deal? I get boat-loads of questions regarding the safety and effectiveness of creatine.
Does it make me look better naked? What are these crazy ethyl-ester pills and shiny Pre-workout jugs promising a Skin Searing Pump?
With all the products and information it’s no wonder there are questions. I’m going to dig in and tell you what creatine is, how to use it, and what to expect.
What is it?
Creatine is a natural amino acid most commonly found in red meat,but also produced in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. In the body creatine becomes a fuel source for short duration high-intensity activities such as weight training, sprinting and jumping where phosphocreatine is converted to ATP.
The amount of creatine consumed through the diet and produced naturally in the body are low; supplementation increases available levels.
Strong. Shredded. Athletic.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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>
It’s 9 pm on Tuesday night. Over the last 2 hours you’ve been sipping your glass on water, scanning curiously over the latest workouts on various exercise websites. Each workout is markedly different. Athlete, bodybuilder, powerlifter…huh?
One site caters to bodybuilders, one site markets to powerlifters, one site markets to those people just looking to “Lose 10 pounds Fast!”, and one site aiming to help athletes reach their next level of competition.
Which should you listen too? When in doubt, train like an athlete.
When an athlete trains, the focus is not on aesthetics, rather, on improving performance through increasing strength, speed, (or any other movement quality) and setting personal records (positive goal-setting).
So while maintaining a certain aesthetic look isn’t an athletes top priority, it’s often a nice by-product of training with a purpose.
(For Proof, just Check out “The Body” edition of ESPN the Magazine.)
Here are 5 fantastic reasons why you should begin training like an athlete when you are due for an exercise program change.
1.) Improved athletic Performance.
I know that everyone reading this likes seeing weights go up. Building ansolute strength is awesome and improves nearly all other trainable qualities.
But why not add some power into the mix?
Olympic lifts, sprints, medicine ball throws, and jumps are all great ways to incorporate power training directly into your program. Everyone can benefit from having some more POP.
If playing your sport or activity entails any of the following actions, incorporating explosive based exercises will improve your performance.
Explosive Movements: sprinting, swinging, jumping, cutting, juking, bounding, spinning, diving, hopping, kicking, pushing, punching, throwing, hitting, slapping.
This includes most sports under the sun, and most of these movements are a blast to perform. Baseball, basketball, football, soccer, lacrosse, diving, hockey, martial arts, wrestling, track & field, weight lifting, hockey and even polo all uses these explosive movements.
In addition, research continues to build that fast twitch muscle fibers will transition to more slow twitch (less explosive) with aging if they are not trained in an explosive manor (Sayers 62-67.) This is a contributing factor in sarcopenia (muscle loss), and a higher incidence of falls…Yikes!
It’s perfectly normal to focus on spending the majority of your time more jacked, but take 3-4 months every year and dedicate some time to athletic development, its fun and vital for longevity.
Don’t wait until you have grey pubes, you’ll thank me later!
2.) You become versatile
Sure, it’s a blast being able to rip 500 lb deadlifts, but not to the detriment of being able to sprint, jump, or having decent mobility.
What do you think of when you think of the best athletes? I think of athletes that can sprint, turn on a dime, be explosive, and maneuver their bodies in unfathomable ways.
As a Packers fan it pains me to say this, but I think of Adrian Peterson. Whether AP is cutting, juking, sprinting, or running over you his varied skill set makes him impossible to stop.
Now, without saying that you will have the same skill set as Adrian Peterson, you should notice a drastic performance increase in your flag football league play while also reducing your risk of injury. Bring on the braggin’ rights!
3.) Improved Conditioning
I must admit, I have a strong distaste for conditioning work.
But, Knowing that it’s a necessary evil, I’ve found ways to make it both fun and achievable.
Like training for strength, fat loss, or muscle gain you must plan it out. Having a game plan and well planned routine leads to better results every time.
“The best workout routine is the one you will follow.”
Plain and simple, if you don’t write things down you won’t do them. Start planning out conditioning work as you would any other workout program. Mix in high intensity, low volume programs and low intensity, higher volume programs. Be creative with sprints, back pedals, shuffles, and other dynamic drills to provide a well rounded training stimulus.
It’s almost too easy. Program your conditioning work just like your strength training routines and see your results skyrocket.
Most of us get stuck in a rut, constantly training for the same variable. Whether you’re training to carry atlas stones, pick up barbells, look good naked, or run triathlons, super-compensation will apply to you.
What is Supercompensation? Essentially, supercompensation is an improved work capacity following a training period.
So, if you’ve been lifting heavy, heavy, heavy for months maybe it’s time to take a few weeks off.
De-load the body from your current training stimulus and incorporate more explosive movements, single leg movements, and conditioning for a short period. When you return to your primary training style you’ll have a well rounded movement foundation, better movement patterns, and be fresher.
You may have a temporary decrease in strength, but that is short-lived. With improved mobility, stability, and conditioning you will be crankin’ big weights in no time.
5.) fewer Imbalance Injuries
Most trainees get stuck in the rut of training the same way…. over, and over again. This often leads to overuse injuries. Incorporating more three dimensional movement, such as lateral lunges and rotational throws, will activate poorly activated muscle groups and improve movement quality.
Less aches and pains, feeling refreshed, and more enjoyment with training?
Hell yeah, I’m in!
Training like an athlete provides the necessary variety to improve your overall physique, health, and athletic performance. Incorporate a variety of explosive, single leg, and multi-directional movements to spark your training up a notch.
This is my encouragement to you. If you’re searching for a fresh, positive view on your approach to training, remember to train like an athlete.
Sayers, SP. “High velocity power training in older adults..”Current Aging Science Journal. 1.1 62-67. Print. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20021374>.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mharrsch/8330173857/”>mharrsch</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/xoque/4247473538/”>xoque</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
Different physical activities require different physiological capabilities. When looking from a sports performance aspect, the body will react positively to any new stimulus in the initial stages.
However, for future advances in strength and performance, adaption becomes much more specialized to the unique physiological demands of the sport. Depending upon the sport and level of mastery the need for specific forms of muscular strength becomes more apparent as the level of competition increases.
For example, as a high school football player a defensive tackle (A) has a full back squat max of 450 lbs, very respectable regardless of size.
This back squat represents maximum strength, or the athletes’ ability to exert maximal isometric muscular force without a time limit. This same athlete does a phenomenal job and is invited to an All Star game with other skilled High School athletes. When lining up and going head to head with another player, the same athlete faces an opponent (B) with a 400 maximum squat, but is much quicker at the snap of the ball. Although athlete A may display a greater maximum strength, as the level of competition increases so does the need for explosive strength, the ability to produce maximal force in a minimal time as displayed by player B.
Explosive strength is the ability to produce maximal force in minimal time. It is very important for the development of power.
Power (P) =Force (F) x Velocity (V)
Well, okay, I don’t play Football, so why do I care about explosive strength and power?
Explosive strength and power are very important to athletes who need to develop force in a short amount of time. This includes activities such as sprinting, cutting, juking, hitting, throwing, swinging, kicking, evading, hoping, and diving. Even at the end of a race a marathon runner sprints to the finish line and can greatly benefit from power training.
Explosive/power training allows for better recruitment of type II fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are built for high force activities, muscular hypertrophy, and allow better recruitment and control of muscles. Explosive training that activates type II muscle fibers is very beneficial for aging populations and the battle against sarcopenia (muscle loss).
How Can I incorporate explosive strength training/power training into my workouts?
Ideally, power training should be performed either before a strength session or as its own session completely. The biggest thing I preach to my athletes and clients is to lift everything explosively because if you are not generating the most muscular force and speed on a movement, you are not training that quality to its full extent. Warming up with the 45lb bar on your bench press? Cool, still perform each rep as if it were a max-out attempt.
Great tools to incorporate into your training after a warm up would be medicine ball throws, body weight plyometrics (jump variations, plyo push ups), Olympic lifts (find a qualified coach such as yours truly), and/or dynamic effort training days (power/strength movements w/20-60% 1RM) with maximal speed.
Training explosive strength is vitally important for athletes, but all populations can benefit. Whether you are trying to dunk a basketball, play a professional sport, or prevent muscle loss with aging, explosive strength training/power training should play a vital role in your fitness regimen.
Verkhoshansky, Yuri, and Mel Siff. SuperTraining. 6. Rome: Verkhoshansky, 2009. 19,107. Print.