Gain Explosive Power, Lose the Learning Curve

By: Josh Bryant

Tactical athlete extraordinaire, Harry Walker, Josh’s long-time client, performing real world tire throws.

To get to Carnegie Hall you must practice, practice, practice, and ultimately the ends justify the means. The same thing could be said for great technique in the Olympic lifts.  Athletes in traditional sports looking to gain explosive power don’t have that kind of time!

Here are four ways to increase explosive power, minus the learning curve.

1. Increase Relative Strength

Relative strength simply means strength to bodyweight ratio. 

Set a goal of a minimum of 2.2 times your bodyweight in the full squat and deadlift and eventually as high as 2.5 times your bodyweight.  Up until the 2.5 times threshold you will run faster and jump higher.

That is why some experts correlate low body fat with sprint speed. For every 10 pounds of bodyweight gained, you must increase these lifts by 25 pounds to maintain maximum speed.  

Hill sprints can enhance relative strength and are safer than traditional sprints.

2. Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT)

Any lift can be an explosive lift as long as you focus on moving the barbell from point A to point B as fast as possible without sacrificing technique. This is CAT, the brainchild Dr. Fred Hatfield. 

Think about it. You can half squat more than you can full squat.  As your leverage improves, you can hit the breaks or accelerate.  If you want to be explosive, you must accelerate.  CAT means you compensate for improved leverage by accelerating the weight.

3. Plyometrics

Plyometrics bridge the gap between the weight room and the field of play.

To maximize sprinting ability, train horizontal jumps. For increased jumping ability, train vertical jumps.

For extreme shock methods like depth jumps, you should be healthy and able to squat twice your bodyweight. Heavier/weaker athletes should stick to CAT training and medicine ball throws.

4. Weighted Triple Extension Movements

A movement that lockouts out the ankles, knees and hips is called a triple extension movement.  Without triple extension, maximal sprinting and jumping cannot be accomplished. Triple extension is paramount to an explosive athlete.

Here are five movements that accomplish triple extension with a simple learning curve.

  • Trap bar jumps
  • Tire flips
  • Any strongman loading event
  • Real world tire throws
  • Backward overhead medicine ball throws

Trap bar jumps with Noah Syndergaard