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.

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.



Box Jump

Sets: 3 Reps: 5

Stand close to a box of appropriate height. Knee level or below is usually desired for novices trainees. Bend slightly at the knee as if to jump as high as possible. Quickly reverse the action and explode off the ground and onto the box driving your hands up as well for momentum. Land with your feet fully on the box and decelerate your landing by bending at the knees and absorbing the force. Step back down and repeat.

Clapping Push-up

Sets: 3 Reps: 5

Choose the appropriate starting point to maintain proper form—either on your knees in a modified position or toes for a full push-up. With your hands slightly outside shoulder width apart, slowly lower yourself to within two inches of the ground and explosively press into the floor to propel your hands off the ground. Decelerate your landing by bending at the elbows. Slowly lower yourself and repeat. 



Kettlebell Swing

Sets: 3 Reps: 5-8

Stand with your feet about hip width apart. Grab a single kettlebell with both hands. Keep your knees slightly bent and your arms straight. Hinge at your hips while lowering the kettlebell between your legs. Snap your hips through in an explosive fashion allowing the kettlebell to swing up in an arc. Control the weight on the way down and repeat the motion.

Medicine Ball Squat to Toss

Sets: 3 Reps: 5-8

Hold a medicine ball underneath your chin. With your feet about hip width apart, lower down into a squat. Quickly drive off your heels up out of the squat and toss the ball straight overhead. Catch the ball with both hands and slowly descend back into a squat before repeating.



Hang Clean

Sets: 4 Reps: 3-5

Start in a hip hinge position with your knees slightly bent. Grab a barbell with an overhand grip and have it resting just above your knees. Explosively extend your ankles, knees, and hips to drive the bar up as you shrug your shoulders. Rotate your elbows under the bar to catch it in a front squat position with a slight dip to receive the weight. Stand up tall before dropping the bar and repeating.


Sets: 4 Reps: 3-5

Start with the bar loaded on your shoulders in a front squat position with your upper arm parallel to the floor. Dip down by hinging at the hips and knees to lower into a partial squat position. Extend your hips and your knees simultaneously while driving the bar overhead. Push yourself under the bar and lower into a partial squat while receiving the bar overhead.