Any fitness enthusiast knows the importance of building strength by lifting weights. But few who don't consider themselves CrossFitters or athletes understand the importance of strength and explosiveness and the benefits of moving weight quickly and powerfully.
Two important fitness skills – strength and explosiveness – aren't high on the list of priorities for most exercisers. This is a danger because these two elements can help you immensely when getting in and out of the gym.
With the help of Scott Panchik, eight-time CrossFit Games athlete and owner of CrossFit Mentality, and Joey Thurman, personal trainer and Openfit instructor, we're breaking down the concepts of strength and explosive power – and why these two skills are important to you, too if you don't do CrossFit or don't identify as a jock.
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Define strength and explosiveness
In CrossFit, Panchick says, “We equate strength with strength, distance, and time, where average effort is strength times distance divided by time. With this intensity measure, we can assemble measurable, observable, and repeatable data. "
This equation basically gives the speed of movement – in other words, how fast can you get a barbell from the front rack position to overhead?
Explosivity, he says, can be traced back to intensity or force, which requires strength. So it's all connected.
"Strength and explosiveness can be overlooked by the average exerciser because they may not know how to implement it into a fitness routine," says Panchik. "By making the basic movements more intense, we can maximize our fitness routine while improving our strength and metabolic conditioning."
This is the main foundation for training in a CrossFit gym, says Panchik, but he points out that anyone can use interval and circuit training to increase the intensity of their workouts.
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Yes, you need these skills even if you are not competing
Many people ignore power and explosiveness as skills that only top athletes need. The average gymnast doesn't throw 300-pound dumbbells over their head or sprint 100 yards on a regular basis. So who cares?
t correct. That should interest you, Panchik and Thurman agree.
"Every time we physically react to a situation, we use force and explosiveness," says Panchick. "Play with your kids, chase your dog, move furniture, put your carry-on luggage in the overhead bin on an airplane … all of them require some form of strength and explosiveness."
And Thurman says it's important to have a “well-rounded tool bag full of athleticism” in and out of the gym. "Even during your day-to-day life, you may need to pick something up or jump out of the way of a moving car," he says. (We hope you are not in this last scenario, just in case you know.)
Either way, "What's the use of being strong if you can't move the weight with some authority?" Thurman thinks about it.
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This is how you (safely) start training for strength and explosiveness
Thurman vouches for keeping things simple. Do an exercise that you did before – one that you are really comfortable with – and add an element of power or explosiveness. For example, try adding explosiveness to the squat.
"Slowly lower yourself like you normally would, but instead of trying to go up at your normal speed, shoot out of the hole like you're trying to get off your feet," explains Thurman. Of course, use a safe weight that you can bail out if something goes wrong. Do three to five repetitions and just do a few sets to allow your body to get used to this new explosive element.
The important thing is, "This is not something you try to fail," says Thurman. "You're just trying to build explosiveness."
When it comes to strength, Thurman still suggests starting with familiar movements, but doing them as quickly as possible with as little ground contact time as possible. Let's continue with our squat example and look at the squat jump.
Get off as fast as you can and jump as high as you can. Go through your heels to get out of the hole. Still trying to get the right depth (parallel or below) but focus more on how high you can jump in the shortest amount of time, says Thurman.
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The best exercises for building strength and explosiveness
According to Panchik, Olympic lifts like Barbell Robbery, Jerk and Power Clean are the front runners in improving power and explosiveness. But he also realizes that these moves aren't always accessible to beginners or people who don't work out in a CrossFit gym.
He offers some ideas for beginners or advanced users:
- One-armed dumbbell removal: Focus on squeezing your glutes and pushing your hips forward to gain momentum.
- Engines: Go through your heels and squat blast you off the floor. Use the hip extension to send the bar up off your shoulders with less work.
- Burpee pull-ups: When you get out of the burpee, jump up as high and as fast as you can to reach the pull-up bar.
- Kettlebell swings: The strength should come from the hips. Squeeze your glutes together to fully straighten your hips and send the kettlebell up.
- Burpee box jumps: Explode from the burpee for a gentle jump to the box. Be careful when you get off the box.
For athletes of all fitness levels, Thurman has a handful of good options.
- Sprints: Every step should contain strength. Remember to use your calves, hamstrings, and glutes to propel you forward.
- Slam ball throw: Scoop the slam ball up by crouching, scooping your hands under it, and squeezing your glutes and hamstrings firmly to bring the ball into the overhead position. Use your core and arms to throw the ball into the ground as hard as you can.
- Plyo push-ups: Descent to the lower position; To ascend, push up and away from the floor as hard as you can to get your hands off the floor.
- Deadlift: Explode from the bottom of the deadlift for strength and slowly lower yourself down. Be careful not to overstretch your back when standing on top of the lift.
- Tuck jumps: Jump as high as you can and get your knees as high as possible, with as little ground contact as possible between jumps.
- Long jumps: Start with your ams in front of your body and swing them back to get momentum as you jump. The more strength you pull from your legs, the further you jump.