Explosive workouts include exercises which enhance strength, power, and speed in order to improve athletic performance.
You can use different types of movements, tempo, and rep ranges to increase either speed, power, or both in order to get an advantage in your chosen sport, or just an extra boost in your overall athleticism.
This article breaks down everything you need to know about designing and performing explosive workouts as part of your fitness routine.
Explosive workouts combine speed, strength, and power training into functional movement that allows you to generate force quickly, or decelerate quickly. Explosive strength is necessary for improving reaction time.
Often, people assume explosive training is only reserved for highly trained athletes or those looking to improve sports performance. However, explosive training can serve a purpose in everyday life as well.
For example, if you see your child falling from the top of a slide and need to hustle to catch them, you’ll use explosive strength to get there quickly.
In short, yes. Improving explosive strength requires a combination of strength training, speed training, and power training. When you are adept at all three, you can maximize your explosiveness, and you’ll be stronger as a result.
However, training specifically for muscle size — also known as hypertrophy training — requires a different approach than training for strength. If it’s muscle size you’re after, explosive workouts may not have the effect you’re looking for.
Strength training is usually performed by moving your maximum force, but at a slow speed.
Speed training includes exercises completed at a high velocity, like sprints or agility drills, with or without resistance.
Power training involves movements that produce a lot of force at moderate speeds, like plyometrics.
In a 2017 meta-analysis on youth athletes, it was concluded that while power plyometric training was more effective at increasing jump height, strength training was more beneficial in terms of sprint speed. So it’s beneficial to include both power and speed training for maximum explosiveness (
Research suggests a periodized approach to your training that targets strength training prior to power training to create a baseline of strength will yield the best results when it comes to explosiveness (
This periodization could be done in longer-term phases, or in separate workouts throughout the week.
For improvement in speed, keep your repetitions low and your velocity and intensity as high as possible, provided you can recover between sets.
Research has found that sled sprints are one effective way to increase sprint speed, especially in the acceleration and maximum-velocity phase of the movement. The same study also determined that the overall volume is more important than the load when it comes to this sort of activity (
Another 2016 study in soccer players demonstrated the benefits of sled sprints in overall speed over plyometric training (4).
But for athletes specifically, perhaps the most important factor in training for explosiveness is specificity. You need to determine what sort of