Learn How to Increase Explosive Power
If you are an athlete, no matter what sport you play or at what level, it should be your top priority to be explosive. Explosiveness means speed and everybody knows that speed, not strength, kills. It doesn’t matter if a 300-pound linebacker of pure muscle is barreling at you, if you have the explosive power for a burst of speed, their momentum is easy to avoid. If you can be fast on the field, you can excel in every respect.
What is Explosiveness?
When coaches tell athletes to work on their explosive power, athletes often think this means that they need to work on the end speed. However, what explosive power really means and what really makes the difference is those first few steps. If you can put a tremendous amount of power and speed into those first few steps, the end speed doesn’t matter because you will leave your opponents in the dust.
However, contrary to the popular belief, that power doesn’t come from calves. Well, technically some of it does, but the majority of explosiveness comes with the hips, hamstrings, and glutes working together with just a little help from the calves. So if you are focusing on calve strength to increase your explosiveness, you will find your speed left wanting.
Unfortunately, every coach has their own training for explosiveness. There is probably some correlation out there between win rates and the successfulness of the explosiveness training, but if you want the fastest way to improve your explosive speed, there are a few options.
Focusing on Plyometrics for Explosive Power
The most effective and also the easiest way to improve your explosive speed is to undertake a regimen of plyometrics, which is a form of jump training. That’s right, it is not sprint training or running suicides on the basketball court that make you faster, but rather jumping.
The definition of explosive power is training your muscles to exert the maximum force in as little time as possible, and there is no better way to coax that from your leg muscles than with jumping. However jumping only effects linear speed, but while you should engage in more agility exercises for when you need them, jumping still helps you build the muscles so you can get to your goal faster.
Enhancing Plyometric Training with Whole Body Vibration
Jump training is the easiest and most effective way to improve your explosiveness, but the fact is you can’t jump forever. You need to stop eventually or else you are just going to hurt yourself and that explosive speed will be turned down to zero. However, there is another method of training that is low impact and you can do it after your jump training regimen.
If you want to further enhance your explosive speed well beyond that of your teammates or other competitors, you can enhance your training with whole body vibration. This neuromuscular training method uses low-to-moderate vibration to stimulate muscular strength and power.
The working theory is that the vibration stimulates the body’s stretch reflex and causes contractions in the muscles that continued to build strength even though it doesn’t really feel like you are doing anything. In fact, after a day of jump training, whole body vibration might feel downright relaxing, but all the while it is still improving your potential explosiveness.
However, you don’t need to just rely on the claims of coaches and successful athletes, this particularly enhancement for explosiveness is firmly based in science as well. A 2012 study followed the 15-week vibration training program of 12 female basketball players as well as a control group and found that those who underwent the whole body vibration training improved in the countermovement jump test significantly in just seven weeks and saw improvements in explosiveness and stability overall after the full 15 weeks.
In a different 2007 study, whole body vibration was tested on a group of sprint runners that found after a six-week regimen they saw marked improvement across the board, but none more so than in explosive strength endurance which improved an impressive 7.8 percent, meaning that they not only exploded out of the gate, but they kept that power coming for longer than sprinters that didn’t undergo vibration training.
As whole body vibration train is rather low impact, it is something that can be done in addition to regular intensive training exercises. In the above studies, whole body vibration is displayed to be as effective as resistance training when it comes to building muscle strength and power. Some might even suggest that it is more effective since it can stimulate the fast-twitch motor units that are difficult to build with traditional exercises.
So what is the fastest way to build explosive power on the field or the court no matter what age, gender, or skill level you are? The simple answer is plyometric jump training, but the better answer is to enhance it with a regimen of whole body vibration. A lot of athletes and even their trainers often look over that whole body vibration machine, but what they are looking for is the key to enhancing explosiveness as fast as possible without putting the body at risk of injury like overtraining does.