After the warm up, we do some type of explosive exercise. We want to do this early in the session while the nervous system is still fresh. Most of the time, we’ll do box jumps, which is simply jumping onto a box, 18, 24, 26 inches, or higher. Now there have been some videos out there lately that show guys jumping 50 inches and higher. One of those was performed by a good friend of mine. As much as I marvel at the amount of explosive strength this requires, I’m not prepared to have my athletes do this. My max has been 36 inches on a very stable box and when that get’s easy, we’ll add a weight vest or light dumbbells for extra resistance. 3-4 sets of 8 reps.
Another exercises we’ve used is the squat jump. This is slightly more taxing because you have to land and absorb the force of gravity. The box jump was just exploding upward with no real deceleration. Squat jumps can get easy quickly, which can lead to adding external resistance with dumbbells, weight vests or barbell.
An upper body version of an explosive exercise could be a medicine ball chest pass.
Olympic lifts and their variations are probably the explosive exercises that require the most skill and practice. Although we rarely use the clean & jerk or the full snatch, we do use some variations, like the high pull or dumbbell snatch. These olympic-type movements are restricted to 5 reps only, as they are very neuro-dependent.
The main point is to find an exercise that requires a full speed explosive contraction.
Any other exercises you’d like to add? Comments are welcome.