Quick Basics of Explosive Strength

Explosive Strength

Explosive strength, also known as speed strength is the ability to move a load (I.E. Bodyweight, arm, shotputt etc.) in the shortest possible time. Explosive strength is extremely important to a wide range of athletes. For example, a shot putter only uses explosive strength during competition. The athlete starts with the shot on their shoulder and explodes using several muscle groups in the shortest amount over time, propelling the shot out of their outstretched arm. For athletes whose sports rely on speed strength generally it is the rate of force development (the speed of the movement) that is more important than the amount of maximal force production. Explosive strength plays an important role in a lot of team sports, in football. The average sprint distance in football is approximately 15m and generally top running speeds occur between 30m-50m it can be argued that acceleration is a more important factor than maximal speed.

Explosive strength like many different types of strength can only be successfully trained once a good strength base has been developed. Without a good strength base the amount of explosive strength would be severely limited thus effecting performance. Assuming a solid strength base has been developed it is important for a coach or athlete to understand both the movement or technique and also how to train to produce the greatest results.

This article is intended to review research relating to the key factors involved in developing explosive strength. However important explosive strength is, performance will always be limited if the correct technique in a given sport or movement is not fully understood and learned.

How best to develop explosive strength.

There are several considerations to maximise explosive strength. The first is the amount of resistance to use to best develop power. Broken down, Speed strength is ability to move a load in the shortest space of time, Mass x Speed. Having a low mass to move would result in a quick movement but very little power would be generated, the opposite is also true. using a load that so heavy that the movement is considerably slower would again result in a poor power output. The key to developing explosive strength is to find the perfect load which does not have a significantly negative impact on movement speed. In a study carried out in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport by Cronin et al. (2001), it was found that using loads of 50%–70% 1RM were found to maximise mean and peak power. This was also backed up by similar results in a study looking at maximal power output on benchpress throws undertaken by Baker et al. (2001). The Baker et al study found that maximal power was greatest at loads representing 55 ±5.3% 1RM.

: Baker, D., S. Nance, and M. Moore. Theload that maximizes the average mechanical poweroutput during explosive bench press throws in highlytrained athletes. J. Strength Cond. Res. 15(1):20–24. 2001.

Tricoli. V., L. Lamas, R. Carnevale, and C. Ugrinowitsch. Short-term effects on lower-body functional power development: Wt’ightlifling VH. vertical jump training programs. Strength Cond. Res. I9(2):433^37. 2005