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Train to maximize your explosive power

This is an excerpt from Essentials of Eccentric Training by Len Kravitz and Aaron Bubbico.

Exercise Program Design

Any exercise program requires two elements before the workout is performed:

  1. Full-body warm-up: The exerciser should perform 5 to 10 minutes of general aerobics (e.g., cycling, rowing, walking, running, use of an elliptical trainer, or any other multijoint movement).
  2. Specific warm-up for explosive power training: The exerciser should perform one or two traditional warm-up sets (i.e., concentric phase followed by eccentric phase) of the exercise at about 50% to 60% of what he or she normally lifts. The goal is specifically to warm up the joint, which includes the tendons, ligaments, connective tissues, synovial fluid, and all surrounding muscles and fascia.

For the purpose of improving explosive power, it is uncommon to use an eccentric-only exercise protocol. However, incorporating the three eccentric training methods in some training microcycles would be appropriate. For example, one could perform two or three weeks of power and strength movements (e.g., power clean) combined with some eccentric emphasis power movements (e.g., box depth jump). The design for improving explosive power calls for the exerciser to complete three to five sets of one or two repetitions of each exercise. Guidelines from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (2008) suggest working at an intensity of 80% to 90% of 1RM with three to five minutes of rest between sets.


Application Tools for Exercises

Here are some directions for optimal resistance training.

• Concentric-eccentric (CON - ECC): one- to two-second concentric with a one- to two-second eccentric
• Eccentric emphasis (EE): movement ratio of one second (concentric) to three to four seconds (eccentric)
• Supramaximal (SUP): 105% to 125% of repetition maximum (from 1RM to 10RM)
• Two-up/one-down (2UP/1DN): 40% to 50% of repetition maximum (from 1RM to 10RM), incorporating the alternating-sides or same-side method at the discretion of the personal trainer

Trainers are encouraged to modify training methods based on each client’s needs and goals. With this aim in mind, change-out exercises are presented to give trainers a variety of options. The exercises presented a bit later in this chapter include six for the upper body and six for the lower body, each of which is shown in its starting and ending positions.


Power is a product of both strength and speed and is an important aspect of functional exercise, especially as a person ages. Power training helps the exerciser maintain and enhance muscle contractions, particularly in everyday activities in which one needs to respond quickly to a certain event. Therefore, we’ve included power exercises aimed at improving all aspects of an active lifestyle.


Summary Thoughts

Explosive power training is essential for sport and movement activities that require sudden bursts of activity, such as sprinting, jumping, throwing, pushing, and quick directional movement changes. Muscular strength training establishes a solid foundation from which power training can be developed and improved.


Power training enables a recreational athlete or exercise enthusiast to incorporate a great amount of maximal strength in a short time. A person can be exceptionally strong but lack explosive power if she or he is unable to apply that strength quickly - thus the need for specific power training. Use of eccentric exercise has been shown to improve power performance (Vogt & Hoppeler, 2014).


The rest of this chapter provides you with descriptions of exercises for increasing explosive power, sample workout routines, and change-out exercise options.


Training for Explosive Power

In explosive power training, the speed with which a person lifts a weight is an indication of how successful he or she is at quickly recruiting the worked muscles. Therefore, in many ways, the signaling messages from the nervous system form a main component of this type of training. In effect, in explosive power training, the exerciser’s central nervous system learns to control her or his muscles in a more efficient way. Since most people do not do this type of recruitment regularly, it is advantageous to really focus on the muscles being recruited for each exercise. For better power efficiency and explosiveness, have your clients concentrate on the target muscles of each power exercise as they perform it. Table 7.1 presents exercises designed to maximize explosive power.


7.1

Incline Bench Press

(CON - ECC, EE, or SUP)

7.1a Starting position for the incline bench press.


Starting Position

  1. Lie on an incline bench with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip and with your hands slightly farther than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lift the bar from the rack and position it above your chest.

Trainer Recommendations

• Stand directly behind the client as he or she performs the incline bench press.
• Assist in the lift-off if the weight is heavy; doing so helps prevent shoulder injury.
• Maintaining contact with the bar, follow the movement with the client from beginning to end.
• To decrease the risk of shoulder injury, help the client return the barbell to the starting position on the rack.


7.1b Ending position for the incline bench press.


Exercise Motion

  1. Lower the barbell until it touches the upper part of your chest, right across your collarbone.
  2. Push the bar up, squeezing your pectoralis major muscles, until your arms are extended.

Performance Improvement Tips

• Maintain a stable position and avoid bouncing the bar off of your chest.
• Keep your forearms directly under the bar, perpendicular to the floor.
• Adjust your hand positioning from wide to narrow, depending on your shoulder stability and range of motion.


Learn more about Essentials of Eccentric Training.

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