The Best Explosive Exercises

The Best Explosive Exercises

Most effort in the gym goes to building vanity muscles: chest, lats, shoulders and arms. That’s inevitably why progress stops. This workout focuses on building all-over strength. Train now for some serious explosive power.

The Workout

This program begins where your power begins – the big strong muscles around your hip joints, including your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes – and presents another possibility: increased strength and muscle mass. The main goal here is to become progressively stronger in four core lifts: squat, bench press, sumo deadlift and high pull.

The best part about doing this workout is that you will build explosive power. And plenty of it. But you’ll also do supplemental exercises, such as the lunges and the push press, to give your body some variety while increasing overall strength. And yes, you’ll do some exercises for your biceps and triceps so they keep their shape and size. Before these workouts, warm up for 10 minutes. Then do two sets of crunches, and one set of back extensions. These will prepare your core for the work ahead.

How to use this Workout

Do this workout three times a week, with one day of rest in-between. Do three sets of 12 reps for your first training day, then three sets of 10 for the second and for the last training day, do three sets of six reps. The first day rest for two minutes in-between sets and for the second training day rest for 90 seconds in-between. For the third day, limit the rest period to 60 seconds.

1. Squat

Stand in a squat rack and position yourself so the bar rests on your upper back. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, your hands a comfortable distance apart. Lift the bar off the rack and take a step back. Position your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing straight ahead. Sit back until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push up against your entire foot – not just the ball-to rise.

2. Bench Press

Lie on a bench with your back in its natural alignment and your feet on the floor. Grasp a barbell with an overhand grip, your hands just beyond shoulder-width apart. Lift the bar off the uprights and hold it with your arms straight above your chest, but don’t lock your elbows. Slowly lower the bar to your chest, then raise it.

3. Sumo Deadlift

Stand with your feet very wide apart, your toes out and your shins against a barbell. Bend over and grasp the bar with an over-and underhand grip. One hand underhand, and one hand overhand, and your hands roughly 18 to 20 cm apart. Position yourself with your butt pushed back and your back in its natural alignment, your arms straight and your shoulders over the bar. Stand straight up while holding the bar, then slowly lower.

4. High Pull

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your toes pointing straight ahead, and your shins against a barbell. Bend over and grasp the bar with a shoulder width, overhand grip. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your shoulders directly over the bar. Stand up, pulling the bar to the middle of your chest. Your elbows should be just a little higher than your shoulders at this point. Slowly lower.

5. Incline Fly

Grab a pair of light dumbbells and lie on an incline bench, with your upper back and butt firmly supported and your feet flat on the floor. Hold the weights over your chest, with your elbows slightly bent and you palms facing each other. Slowly lower the weights until your upper arms are parallel to the floor and perpendicular to your torso. Raise in an arcing motion.

6. Lunge

Grab a pair of dumbbells and hold them at your sides, palms facing in. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step forwards with your left leg until your knee is bent 90 degrees. Your left lower leg should be perpendicular to the floor, your left thigh parallel to the floor. Step back, then step forwards with your right foot. That’s one rep.

7. Barbell Biceps Curl

Load a barbell with a moderate weight and grasp it with an underhand grip, your hands just beyond shoulder width. Stand upright with your knees slightly bent, holding the bar at arm’s length against the front of your thighs. Keep your elbows tight against your sides. Slowly pull the bar towards your chest by bending your elbows, raising it as high as you can without moving your elbows away from your sides. Then slowly lower.

8. Seated Cable Row

Attach a long, straight bar to the pulley of a cable-row station, then sit with your feet on the platform and your knees slightly bent. Grasp the bar with an underhand grip that’s just beyond shoulder width, your arms extended. Keep your back perpendicular to the floor, without rocking backwards, pull the bar towards your abdominals.

Keep your shoulders down throughout the movement; if they start to hunch up, end the set, because you’ve broken form. Slowly release without leaning forwards.

9. Push Press

Set a barbell in a squat rack at about shoulder height and load it with a moderate to heavy weight. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, your hands slightly beyond shoulder width. Position the bar at shoulder height, with your elbows slightly in front of your torso. Step back from the squat rack, and stand with your back in its natural alignment, your knees loose, not locked.

Slightly bend your knees, hips and ankles, and lower your body about 10cm. Straighten your lower body, creating upward momentum for the bar, and press the bar straight overhead. (Don’t lock your elbows when you get to the top.) Slowly lower.

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