Power is probably the most sought-after attribute of athleticism in sports. Maximal power is the highest amount of force and velocity you can produce simultaneously. In practical sports settings, this is demonstrated when you see a big tackle, home run or slam dunk. One problem: some of the most effective exercises for evaluating explosiveness are rarely measured when assessing athletes. Try measuring your progress with these two exercises periodically during your training program to gauge how explosive you are.
First, a quick primer on the force-velocity curve, which shows the inverse relationship between force and velocity. On the high end of the force portion is maximal strength; and on the opposite side on the velocity portion is maximal speed. What this means is that the heavier the weight you lift, the slower you're able to lift it, and vice versa.
What does this mean for athletes trying to assess their explosiveness? Assessment tools to measure power should take this curve into account. One-rep max tests are commonly used in training programs to assess maximal strength, but though they are beneficial for tracking strength gains, they don't paint the whole picture on explosiveness. Similarly, other commonly used assessments—like the 40-Yard Dash—are great for measuring speed and acceleration, but they don't give a full view of explosiveness either.
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Jumping and throwing are among the best power exercises, because they require a high rate of force development, which correlates closely with explosiveness. In addition, resistance used when jumping—i.e., your body weight—is the perfect resistance, because it represents the typical load you will be moving on the playing field. Another benefit of using Throws and Jumps as measurement tools is that they do not have deceleration phases. Athletes doing these tests are encouraged to exert force to their highest potential possible—which cannot be done with many traditional weightlifting movements like the Bench Press, for example, where you must decelerate at the top of the movement).
Standing Long Jump Test
This test measures lower-body power across the horizontal plane, which is the typical movement pattern used in most sport settings.
Execution: Stand behind a line with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Hinge your hips and swing your arms back, then jump forward as far as possible. Try to land as smoothly as possible on both feet without falling backwards.
Measurement: Good (8 feet + for men and 6 feet + for women); Average (6 feet to 7-11 for men and 4-8 to 5-11 for women); and Below Average (under 6 feet for men and under 4-8 for women)
Standing Medicine Ball Chest Pass
This test is used to measure upper-body power.
Execution: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold a medicine ball with both hands at chest level. Throw the ball forward as far as possible.
Measurement: this exercise can be measured based on the distance the ball is thrown or progress with the weight of the ball relative to distance. When choosing a ball for the initial measurement, use a load that offers moderate resistance but not so heavy that it prevents an explosive throw.
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