Feb 11, 2013

If you haven't read Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3 of this series, I suggest starting there before continuing.

The final installment of this series will include my go-to exercises for explosive power and rate of force development. Like I've said before, being strong is great and something that every single person who trains should be striving for, but strength is only as good as the speed with which you can demonstrate it. Slow strength is not as useful as explosive strength.

As with the others, we will break down our explosive movements into 3 subcategories including:

  • Implement Olympic Lifts
  • Medicine Ball Throws
  • Jumps

I decided to only utilize these 3 subcategories because they are easy to teach and don't require any special equipment that you wouldn't be able to find in an ordinary commercial gym.

Implement Olympic Lifts

I personally love this exercise. There are few ways to get real explosive hip extension than to perform a snatch. When I train and coach I like to use implements outside of the traditional barbell for 2 reasons, 1) the barbell snatch is very technical and takes a while to master and 2) it is hard for me to teach because I don't have the coaching experience to teach it (just being honest). You'll get the same benefits using a sandbag, dumbbell, or kettlebell with no more than a session or 2 to get down the technique. I'm all for a lower learning curve to be able to get more explosive in less time.

Clean and Press
The clean and press is another fantastic movement for explosive power and the learning curve is just as low as the implement snatch. Again you can use any implement you have available whether it be sandbags, kettlebells, dumbbells, kegs, or even big backyard stones. And there's no need to limit yourself to a lighter weight because you can't strict press it overhead. Try push pressing or jerking the weight overhead. This will not only improve shoulder strength and stability but will add to your explosive strength by throwing in some powerful leg drive.

Old video of me and a 90lb 1-arm barbell snatch

Athletes from my biggest influence, Zach Even-Esh's Underground Strength Gym, doing sandbag clean and presses

Medicine Ball Throws

I went over medicine ball throws pretty extensively in one of my previous articles entitled "Medicine Ball Throws for Explosive Power", which included a great video by Chad Smith of Juggernaut Training Systems so there's really no need to go through it again. What I will say is that there are a bunch of different variations and just as with the Olympic lifts, you're not limited to only using a medicine ball. You can throw a sandbag, a small keg, stones, an old tire, even old dumbbells. Just please make sure when you do throw something that you're not going to hit anything (or anyone). The last thing I need is some one getting injured and blaming me for saying they could do it. Here is my disclaimer stating I am not liable for any injuries incurred by throwing random objects in the attempt to gain more explosive power. There, I feel better now.


Box Jumps
Aside from the Olifts, jumps are in every single one of the programs I write for my clients and for myself. As a human being there is absolutely NO REASON why you should not be able to jump. It's a basic human function and should be practiced during every session if not daily. Remember folks, if you don't use it you will lose it. Anyway, box jumps are the easiest jump to master and they are where I start everyone off. Find something stable and jump on top of it. It's that easy. My only caveat is that you don't land in an ass-to-grass squat position. If that's the case the box is WAAAAYYY too high. You should land no lower than a hip to parallel squat. You can even add dumbbells and weighted vests when these become too easy or you can't find anything higher to jump on.

Hurdle Jumps
Self-explanatory. Find a few objects that you can jump over and jump over them in sequence. This could be benches, actual hurdles, saw horses, the pins in a squat rack, a band or rope tied to something on both ends, people in a quadruped position (on hands and knees), or whatever else your crazy minds can come up with. Just jump.

Broad Jumps
Personally I use standing broad jumps or bounds (stringing 2-3 broad jumps together). It's great to have a tape measurer nearby when using these as you don't want to have to guess how far you traveled. When doing these right be sure to jump out and not up. At some point during the jump you want to look like superman flying through the sky.

Kneeling Jumps
These are a little more complicated but great nonethless. The only problem I see with kneeling jumps is the setup. You want your instep flat on the ground, not the balls of your feet. This way you know you're propelling yourself upward with your hips and not your legs. Check out the video below to get a better sense of what I mean.

Box Jumps from athletes at Big Z's Underground Strength Gym

One of the amazing Elliott Hulse's proteges doing some hurdle work

Another one of my mentors, Matt Wichlinski, hitting weighted broad jumps with an 80lb sandbag

An athlete from the legendary DeFranco's Gym smashing some barbell kneeling jumps

I hope you all enjoyed this series and have a better idea of what exercises will give you the biggest bang for your buck. It's important not to waste your time with the silly fad exercises that will tone this and shape that because time is the one thing you can't get back. Spend it wisely.

Train hard, train smart, smash PR's, and become more awesome.

In Strength,
Franco Crincoli


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Franco Crincoli
I am a personal trainer, strength coach, and all around iron addict, with a philosophy deeply rooted in old school methods. My training has been influenced by strongmen, powerlifters, Olympic lifters, gymnasts, and the Golden Era bodybuilders. I believe in reaping the greatest rewards the simplest (not easiest) way possible and having fun doing it.
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