Build Upper-Body Power With Reversal Strength Exercises

June 11, 2014

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Reversal strength should be one of the top priorities of any strength athlete, yet many don't seem to understand it or how to acquire it.

Reversal strength builds explosive power. Without the ability to decelerate and re-fire in the opposite direction, athletes cannot be explosive. Nearly all athletes—with the exception of some endurance athletes—need this ability.

Fortunately, it's not that hard to develop if you do it correctly.

Speed is half of the equation when it comes to strength training. Force without speed is not very effective or useful to an athlete. Lifting heavy weight is great, but you also need to lift fast.

We break all lifts into thirds: the start, middle and finish. In most cases you can lift more weight in the middle and finish than you can from the start of the rep.

RELATED: Workouts That Don't Work (And One That Does)

If you fail or miss a lift, it's often in the exact same spot. Is it a lack of strength? No, it's a lack of speed and power in the bottom third of the movement.

Imagine two small trampolines positioned under your elbows during the Bench Press. When you hit the bottom part of the rep, your elbows bounce off the trampolines and the bar explodes up faster.

Think of reversal strength as like a trampoline. If you lack it, you won't be as strong in a lift or while moving on the field.

At Ultimate Advantage, we place a large emphasis on reversal strength, which we feel gives us an edge on the competition. Here are some of our favorite upper-body reversal strength exercises.

Supine Med Ball Chest Throws

Builds pushing power through the upper body and can be used as a brutal finisher at the end of your workout.

How to: Lie on your back and hold a med ball at your chest. We use a 25-pound ball. Throw the med ball straight up over your chest. Catch the ball and immediately repeat as quickly as possible. For an additional challenge, have a partner catch the ball in the air and throw it down to you.

Sets/Reps: 2-4x40-60 (shoot for 100 to 200 total reps)

RS Press

The RS press is probably the king of upper-body explosive power builders.

How to: Lie on a bench and hold the bar with a shoulder-width grip. Keeping your elbows pointed toward your feet, lower the bar to your chest until your elbows are in line with your body. Roll the bar a few inches toward your chin. Explode up through the same range of motion.

WATCH: Scarpulla Demos the RS Press

I like to say, "If you train slow, you will be slow." Do your reps with max force, moving the bar as quickly as possible while maintaining control. Build power and learn how to use it on the field.

To see more reversal strength exercises, check out the videos above.

RELATED: Make Your Strength Work for You With Footwork Drills

Rick Scarpulla
- Rick Scarpulla is a highly sought-after strength, speed and conditioning coach who helps develop top high school, college and professional athletes and programs throughout North...
Rick Scarpulla
- Rick Scarpulla is a highly sought-after strength, speed and conditioning coach who helps develop top high school, college and professional athletes and programs throughout North...
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