As a Strength, Conditioning, and Speed Coach I get inquiries all the time about producing explosiveness for athletes of all ages and various sports.
We've all seen a sporting event where there are one or two athletes that just seem to move quicker, jump higher and remain a step ahead of their teammates and the opposition. It's no secret that this type of fast twitch, explosive athlete is an asset to any team, any sport.
But how do you develop that type of quickness???
1. Always focus on getting stronger
2. Sprint, jump, hop, bound, change direction, practice your sport
3. Train fast and explosive.... with Olympic lifts.
Allow me to preface this post by stating that it is definitely true that some people are lucky enough born with a genetic makeup that fortunes them to have bigger fast twitch muscle fibers. Great for them, but they still have to train hard to maintain their athleticism. Most of us ‘regular’ athletes have to earn every ounce of speed, power, explosiveness and quickness through thousands of progressions racking up countless hours in the gym and on the field/court/mat/platform. Hopefully, after reading this post you’ll have a better game plan on how to develop that elusive explosiveness.
Some athletes are slow with cinder blocks for feet because they’re weak, plain and simple. Think about it; if you have zero relative strength or strength at all how do you expect to move your body of mass (100-300+ pounds) in gameplay with speed and explosiveness?! Strength is undoubtedly a pre-requisite to earning speed and power. Athletes must also chase strength (pun intended) bc the stronger they get, the faster and more explosive they can be.
Strength all starts with owning your body weight and increasing your relative strength with pull-up and pushup variations, squats, lunges, bridges, planks, superman’s, inverted rows. After that foundation is built, hopefully at a young age, athletes have got to attack compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, pressing movements, lunges, step-ups, rowing variations, RDL’s and the list goes on. An athlete with a solid foundation that begins a weight training protocol will become more explosive almost immediately by getting their bigger muscles (and muscle fibers) stronger. I’ve seen a ton of high school athletes see and feel changes within 4 weeks of strength traing
The old saying “if you want to be fast, you’ve gotta train fast” has some truth to it, but it’s not that simple. With the popularity of the fitness industry at an all time high and the Internet frenzy, athletes will follow any Joe Trainer he/she sees first on YouTube. Speed training and plyometrics can raise an athlete’s game to the next level as long as;
The correct progressions for the individual are taken into account
The coach has a thorough understanding of energy system development and movement efficiency
There is a systematic approach
For example, any time I tell an athlete he/she has to learn to land first before they can jump with power, they give me a funny look as if I’m crazy. What I really mean when I say that is that athletes need to be able absorb load eccentrically (their body) so they can transfer force concentrically with as much power as possible. Now, if the athlete has a solid foundation of strength, this progression is usually quite easy to master and then they move on.
Just training fast won’t make you explosive. Being coached on landing, jumping, hopping, bounding, skipping, accelerating, multi-directional movement and movement efficiency absolutely will. Although it sounds like a lot, it’s really not. Plyometric and speed training can and should be a part of your training regimen, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes 2-3 days per week.
With that said, any athlete can get a lot out of sprinting, gameplay and hill sprints. But, if you have the opportunity to learn from a qualified Coach, I highly recommend doing so.
Lastly, the coveted, yet argued Olympic Lifts, which I’ll keep short and sweet. Just like anything else in sports, if it’s coached correctly, it will benefit the athlete very profoundly if they can execute the Olympic lifts properly. Do alternatives to the Olympic lifts such as; medicine ball training and plyometrics produce similar results? Absolutely. Should a Coach that isn’t trained to teach the Olympic lifts have their athletes execute them? Absolutely not!
You see it all the time in high school weight rooms; football coaches handing out strength and conditioning manuals with power cleans in them, but nobody on the staff can teach them correctly... to 50 athletes no less. I’ll save the rant and stop there on this one.
To sum it all up, strength training is a lifelong process that should be maintained as long as you can move. If you train explosively, you’ll become explosive if, at the very least you are taught the basics of all athletic movements. Being coached by a qualified weightlifting coach will help you develop explosiveness and athleticism, but there are alternatives to the Olympic lifts that produce similar results. Just be sure to have a plan of action instead of training mindlessly and hoping the results come.
Dominate Another Day.