Your first stop to getting more explosive is probably the weight room. But although weight room training is effective, it’s not always the best option. To become the best athlete possible, you need to understand the difference between demonstrating and actually developing explosive power.
Unlike competitive weightlifters, football players demonstrate power and explosiveness between the sidelines, not in the weight room. While certain exercises look more powerful than others—usually because they are performed quickly—athletes must remember that weight training is a means to an end. Impressive weightroom numbers are great, but your strength as an athlete will be tested on the field, not in the Bench Press, Squat or Power Clean. Always keep that in perspective when you are training.
In order to develop power you must first understand what it is. Power is the mechanical expression of physical work. The mathematical formula is Power = (Force x Distance)/Time. So to get more powerful you must increase the force produced and the distance the weight travels, or reduce the time it takes to perform the movement.
It’s tempting to say that if you move a weight quickly, you will produce more power. However, that is not the whole story. You still have to challenge your muscles with strength exercises to fatigue so you can apply more force during a power movement.
Ideally you should reach fatigue during a set. If you have experienced this, you have noticed that the bar gradually moves more slowly. Although this doesn’t exactly seem powerful, your strength can be adapted and transferred into a power movement. Speed isn’t the only factor in power development. Performing maximum strength exercises with perfect form reps is your secret weapon.
1. Lift the weight in a focused manner. Never throw or bounce a bar or dumbbell.
2. Always perform the downward phase of an exercise—known as the eccentric or negative phase—in control. Since you are stronger in the lowering part of the exercise this should take twice as long as it takes to raise the weight. By paying attention to the eccentric part of the exercise, you can double your strength potential.
3. In the mid-range position (e.g., at the bottom of the Bench Press), pause for one second. This reduces momentum and insures that maximum tension is developed within the muscles, forcing you to produce greater strength.
As in other aspects of training, little things make a big difference. Focus on your repetitions, make sure you maintain control, always strive for improvement and you will become more powerful than you thought possible.