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Explosive Movements to Power Up Your Program

Utilize these three powerful movements for more gains in size and strength.

By Jeremey DuVall, M.S., CPT

Walk into almost any gym, and you’ll see guys grinding out heavy reps in a slow, controlled fashion. By performing slower reps, these lifters hope to increase their time under tension—another way of saying how long the muscle is under strain during a set. This type of lifting is fantastic for breaking down muscle fibers, not to mention causing some intense soreness for a few days post-workout. However, all of this focus on slow lifting has pushed explosive exercises out of the picture. In doing so, lifters are neglecting a huge aspect of training and therefore, sacrificing potential gains along the way.

Your body is a pro at adapting to different workout stimuli. Performing slow and controlled moves week after week leads to plateaus in size and strength. Explosive exercises like box jumps and olympic lifts can be a welcome change to the mundane workout of 10-12 reps. Not only will power moves help to break up boredom; they’ll also boost you to more results. Explosive exercises are crucial for increasing muscle fiber recruitment—that is how much of your muscle is engaged during an exercise. By increasing the number of fibers used during a particular exercise, lifters can load up with more weight and hit more muscle fibers leading to greater changes in growth.

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Before You Start

Before adding power exercises into your routine, it’s crucial to nail down proper form and technique. Because these exercises are so quick and explosive, they require the body to produce and absorb a tremendous amount of force; that translates to a higher chance of injury. As a result, power exercises should always be performed in the beginning of your routine when you’re fresh, not at the end when your form my likely go downhill. Explosive lifts like the clean and push-jerk also require a tremendous amount of coordination. To master proper form and avoid injury, the lifts should be performed with light weight for a high volume of reps before adding any sort of substantial load.

To get started with plyometrics in your routine, review the following progressions and select the appropriate level to add in front of your workout. Perform these exercises first in your program and allow 2-3 days before repeating them again. Remember to move quickly using perfect form before adding weight.

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