If you look at the physiques of strength and power athletes you will notice large amounts of muscle mass. This holds true for weightlifters, sprinters, football players, wrestlers, etc.
While heavy weight training plays a large role in the development of these athletes' physiques, it is not the only type of training they do. They also perform a ton of explosive training. This is also sometimes called speed-strength, power, or plyometric training.
Whatever you call it, this type of training really hits the fast-twitch muscle fibers. These fibers have the highest potential for strength and muscle growth so it is important that they are stimulated adequately.
Here are 3 groups of exercises you can use to shock those fast-twitch muscle fibers into new growth!
There are wide variety of jumps you can use. Starting with the basic vertical and long jumps and then progressing to jumps over hurdles or up stadium steps. You can even add extra loading to jumps in the form of a bar on your back or weights in your hands. All of these variations have their own intricacies and will develop power in different ways. But if you are just looking to shock the muscles with something new then just pick any exercise and try a few sets. Don't forget things like clap push-ups as an upper body "jump" variation!
Sprinting is a great whole body exercise and I believe that anyone who dares to call themselves an athlete should be able to sprint well. Every athlete I work with, including swimmers and hockey players, will sprint at some point during the year. This exercise not only taxes your lower body, but also the abs, lower back, and even the shoulder girdle! Just look at the shoulder and trapezius development on an Olympic sprinter.
If you haven't sprinted in awhile then it is important to ease into it. Don't go right into an all-out sprint or you will put your body at unnecessary riskof injury. Start with short distances (less than 20 yards) and go at 60% speed the first week, 75% the second week, and 90% on the third week. If you're feeling good after that then you can try an all-out sprint, but only after an extensive warm-up.
Throws can be done with a variety of implements. I find medicine balls are one of the most versatile objects, but you can use an old plate or dumbbell, or even a make your own medicine ball by stuffing an old basketball with sand. Try a variety of throws to stimulate the upper and lower body. Chest passes, soccer throws, shot puts, and backwards tosses are great basic throws to get you started.
Give one or more of these explosive exercises a try before your next workout. Not only will you activate those fast-twitch muscle fibers, but you'll also get some variety in your routine and have a chance to work out outside.
Explosive training is one the crucial steps to building muscle that not only looks good, but performs at a high-level. Remember, if you want to look like an athlete then you need to train like one!
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