The explosive exercise training method comes from the Russians: Yuri Verkhoshansky, to be specific. (I know, I know, but the bastards know how to train.) It’s a form of interval training that improves the aerobic abilities of your fast-twitch muscles while also improving the rate at which your slow-twitch muscles generate energy.
That matters because the aerobic system is the endurance system, and fast-twitch muscles typically don’t receive enough aerobic training. In contrast, slow-twitch muscles aren’t trained to express power. Explosive exercise checks a lot of boxes that are often ignored.
Why does this matter? If you can only express power for a rep or two before you have to take a breather, your power isn’t all that useful. Support that power with endurance for multiple blasts, and you’re one formidable human being. Explosive exercise trains the body for this kind of deadly combo.
How to Perform Explosive Exercises
You perform an explosive exercise at maximum intensity for 8 to 20 seconds. That intense work period is followed by a rest period of 30 to 60 seconds.
Each week the work interval increases, and the rest interval decreases. You’ll do multiple sets with long active rest periods between them. Explosive reps drain the energy substrates from your muscles, so they need time to replenish.
I typically program explosive exercises in three- to four-week cycles, followed by a four- to six-week break from them.
When To Do Them
Explosive exercises fit well into training phases designed to increase work capacity and local muscular endurance. Do them early in the training week since they require a lot of intensity. If you wait until the end of the week, you’ll be too fatigued and won’t be able to access the necessary intensity to make them effective.
I’ve included two programming examples for you to try that will, hopefully, spark your creativity. Try the first example before attempting the second because the second is significantly more demanding. Both are great, and I’ve used them in programs for operators as well as backcountry hunters.
Workout Routine: Example 1
My friends at Building The Elite influenced this one. Complete every set of an exercise before moving on to the next. Here’s the work-to-rest ratio progression for four weeks:
Week 1: 10 seconds work, 50 seconds rest, 6 reps
Week 2: 12 seconds work, 45 seconds rest, 8 reps
Week 3: 15 seconds work, 45 seconds rest, 10 reps
Week 4: 10 seconds work, 50 seconds rest, 4 reps
Sumo Kettlebell Jumps
Workout Routine: Example 2
Complete both sets of each upper-body exercise before moving on and doing each set of the lower-body exercise.
Here’s the work to rest ratio progression from week to week (influenced by Joel Jamieson’s Ultimate MMA conditioning):
Week 1: 8 seconds work, 60 seconds rest, 2 reps, 8 sets
Week 2: 12 seconds work, 40 seconds rest, 2 reps, 8 sets
Week 3: 14 seconds work, 30 seconds rest, 2 reps, 8 sets
Insert 8 to 10 minutes of active rest between sets.
- Push-ups (explosive)
- Sumo Kettlebell Jumps
If these don’t crush your soul and help you develop long-term, explosive power, you’re not doing them right. Remember, intensity is the goal. Explode.