10 Movements for Explosive Power

Building power in the gym means moving weight fast to recruit the most motor units possible. This typically involves a healthy dose of power cleans and perhaps a few variations of the other classic Olympic lifts, but I’m here to help you broaden your training horizons. Each of the following movements should be programmed early in your daily training session, just as you would any explosive movement. You’ll get the most out of these power training movements while fresh.

1 – Hang Snatch

In terms of power output, the snatch matches the clean closely, but for pure coolness the snatch wins every time. And let’s be honest, coolness is a big part of a great training program.

I chose the hang snatch over the power snatch because it’s much easier for most to achieve a respectable start position from the hang than it is from the floor. The snatch from the floor takes a ton of mobility at both the hips and ankles, and for many athletes this is an area that requires a serious intervention.

2 – Kettlebell Swings With Band Resistance

The traditional kettlebell swing is great,however adding band resistance to this movement can add a bunch of resistance at the top while addressing the end range of hip extension.

It’ simple to add band resistance, Just loop it through the handle and then back through itself, then step on the end of the band with each foot and you’re all set to swing.

3 – Split Jerk

The jerk has been shown to generate more power than both the clean and the snatch, and is a tremendous movement for developing power through quad-dominant movement.

The power jerk is an awesome move as well, explosive and total body, but splitting the feet takes the movement to the next level. Much of what you do as an athlete revolves around being able to adapt to changing conditions, and changing from a bilateral stance to an offset, semi-unilateral stance trains you to be adaptable. It also trains your lead leg to be strong in absorbing force. If you have any aspirations of being fast or athletic, this movement is a must for your training program.

4 – Medicine Ball Throws

Let’s just get this out of the way: throwing things is a good time. It’s also an unchecked expression of power. Throwing a medicine ball is unlike anything else that we can do in the gym. No deceleration period, only acceleration.

This is also the first movement on my list that trains power in the transverse plane. Transverse plane power is necessary for nearly every athlete, from the high level rugby player during a change of direction to the general population. Throwing a medicine ball is also an awesome core movement to redirect force from the ground through the upper body. The linkage between hip rotation, core stability, and the expression of power through the upper body is hard to miss and tough to beat. Make sure you generate power through the lower body and rotate the back foot to finish the movement.

 

 

5 – Power Clean From Blocks

No list of explosive training movements would be complete without some variation of the power clean. For the same reasons that I chose the hang snatch (mobility requirements) over the power snatch, I’m going with the clean from blocks over a power clean from the floor. For most athletes, cleans from the floor are difficult to do with good form. Starting the lift off blocks provides the same explosive benefits without exposing your back to injury. There’s a performance benefit as well. By eliminating the eccentric lowering of the bar to the start position, power cleans from blocks also help develop starting strength.

6 – Clean/Snatch/Trap Bar Pulls

The Olympic pull is one of the best tools available to improve power, and is an absolute must if you have any interest in being a better Olympic lifter. At higher loads, the pull is a great way to develop power and get acquainted with moving serious weight in the Olympic lifts. Both the clean pull and snatch pull help improve your feel with either lift, and you can also do a similar movement with a trap bar. The big advantage with the trap bar is that it allows you to keep the load closer to your center of gravity as opposed to in front of the body in the traditional pull.

7 – Crossover Sled Drags

We’ve been able to figure out a ton of ways to increase power; unfortunately, most of these methods occur in the sagittal plane. And if you’re an athlete, or work with athletes, improving power in only the sagittal plane will only get you so far. To be truly powerful, in every direction, you need to train in multiple planes.

8 – Rotational Lunge Swings

A simple rotation of the sandbag (or kettlebell, if no sandbag is available) while descending into a reverse lunge will challenge your strength and core stability in the elusive transverse plane. Then, when you add in the power of a swing, what you wind up with is a really cool explosive movement, the swing requires decelerating the implement at the bottom of the movement before you explode from the lead leg into hip and knee extension.

9 – Seated Box Jumps

While most plyometrics take advantage of the stretch-shortening cycle to produce power, the seated box jump removes all eccentric loading and allows athletes to focus on only the explosive, concentric action of the movement. Taking out the swing of the arms will force you to focus on developing power from the ground up. To take this movement to the next level, hug a weight to your chest. Now you have a loaded plyometric movement that doesn’t trash your joints. Not too shabby.

10 – Supine Medicine Ball Reactive Throws

Most of the movements used to train explosive power have a distinct lower body bias. Training the lower body to be more explosive will make you more athletic and teach you to recruit the muscles needed to power through a squat and sprint faster, but explosive upper body power is also important to being freakishly strong in the weightroom. The supine medicine ball reactive throw is an awesome tool to improve upper body power. These throws train you to maintain a good position through a fast eccentric phase, and then explode through the concentric motion to finish strong. Try using these throws in a superset with the bench press and watch yourself power through the lockout.

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