How To – Develop Explosive Power

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Today I’m going to highlight some specific areas you should focus on in your training to develop explosive power! I’m also going to provide you with exercises and workouts I have implemented with my athletes.

Step 1: Strengthen your Core

A strong midsection is the FOUNDATION of some of the most powerful and explosive athletes in sports today. Think about it, when’s the last time you saw a powerful athlete that had a weak midsection? NEVER.

Here’s some of my favorite anti-movement patterns to include in my athletes training to strengthen their core:

Anti-Lateral Flexion Movements: Loaded Carries, Side-Planks

Anti-Rotation Movements: Banded/Cable Pallof Press, Banded/Cable Chops, Banded/Cable Lifts

Anti-Extension Movements: Planks, Deadbugs, Rollouts, Hollow Holds, Hanging Leg Raise

Challenging Core Stability Circuits: Here’s two challenging core stability circuits you can try that I have implemented with my athletes. I will implement these circuits with my athletes at the conclusion of their training session.

Core Circuit #1: Furniture Slider Core Circuit 3-5 sets x 10 reps each movement

Core Circuit #2: Hanging Leg Raise + Hollow Hold Combo Leg Raise 5×8 reps, Hollow Hold 5×30 sec., Hanging Mountain Climber 5×10/side

Step 2: Incorporate Jumps & Plyometrics

If you want to become a more explosive athlete you need to include jumps and plyometrics in your training. In addition, don’t be afraid to implement multi-directional jumps and plyo’s into your training.

Here’s some of my favorite jumps and plyo’s to use in my athletes training:

Jumps: Box Jumps, Broad Jump, Lateral Broad Jump, Vertical Jump, Broad Jump to Vertical Jump, Single-Leg Vertical, Broad, Lateral Jump, Single-Leg Lateral Jump to Quarter-Turn Jump

Plyometrics: Split-Stance Single Switch Jump, Split-Stance Single-Leg Forward Switch Jump, Heiden Speed Skater, Pogo Hop for Max Height, Power Skip for Height, Power Skip for Distance, Tuck Jumps, Side-to-Side Hurdle Hops

Step 3: Get Ballistic!

Utilizing medicine ball throws in your training is a great way to transfer your general strength qualities into baseball specific power!

Power development is plane specific and medicine ball throws will allow you to train more “baseball specific” power by allowing you to work in planes (frontal, transverse) that are required of you by your sport (baseball).

Here’s some of my favorite medicine ball throws to program into my athletes training:

Medicine Ball Stomps: Overhead Stomp, Overhead Recoiled Stomp, Overhead Side-to-Side Stomp, Knee-to-Knee Rollover Stomp, Figure-8 Rollover Stomp

Medicine Ball Rotational Throws: Forward Facing Scoop Toss/Shot-Put Throw, Step-Back Scoop Toss, Step-Behind Shot-Put Throw/Scoop Toss

Medicine Ball Overhead Throws: Backward Overhead Throw for Distance, Vertical Scoop Toss for Height, Forward Scoop Toss for Distance, Chest-Pass for Distance

Medicine Ball Overhead Forward Throws: Split-Stance Overhead Forward Throw, Crow-Hop to Overhead Forward Throw

Complete Medicine Ball Power Development Program:

If you’re someone that’s looking for a complete medicine ball program that you can implement into your workouts this off-season check out our 16-Week Medicine Ball Power Development Program

With our Med Ball Manual, you’ll get 16 weeks of carefully progressed throws, slowly building to high velocity, high power variations that will teach your body how to produce force, and transmit it through the body, as quickly and efficiently as possible. This program is designed to supplement your existing training regiment and take out the guesswork so you can focus on ball-breaking displays of power! Click HERE for more information!

Step 4: Utilize the Dynamic-Effort Method

When utilized properly the dynamic-effort method can be a great way to develop explosive power. When using this method of training, bar speed and intent is crucial. The weight being used needs to be sub-maximal and the weight needs to be moved as fast as humanly possible.

How I Utilize the Dynamic-Effort Method with my Athletes:

Sets: In-Season 4-6, Off-Season 6-12 or until output drops (when output drops cut the set) – I regulate this with a stop watch as I don’t have access to a tendo unit. It’s not the best means of measurement but it gets the job done.

Reps: 2-4

Weight Used: Submaximal 40-60% – I normally stick around 40-50%.

Goal of Each Repetition: Move the bar as fast as humanly possible.

Rest: 40-60 seconds after each set

Exercise Selection when Implementing the Dynamic-Effort Method:

Here’s some of my favorite exercises to program for my athletes when utilizing the dynamic-effort method: SSB Speed Squat, SSB Box Squat for Speed, Front Squat for Speed, Front Squat to Box for Speed Trap Bar Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift – I’ll even incorporate some single-leg split squats with more advanced trained athletes.

As shown above, I love adding band tension when doing dynamic-effort work with more advanced lifters. I’ve found the bands to be a great way to increase muscle fiber recruitment, firing rate, technique (the band forces you to keep your midsection tight), and intent.

What if I’m currently In-Season? Can I still incorporate the Dynamic-Effort Method?

YES! I believe it’s a great idea to incorporate dynamic-effort work in-season. Last summer, when I coached in the Cape Code Collegiate Baseball League I would utilize the dynamic-effort method with our players multiple times a week. Here’s some sample power series I used this past summer (2019). For game-day lifts, the total number of sets was lowered to four. In my experience, I’ve found four sets to be just enough to prime the athletes CNS, prevent fatigue, improve power, and keep on-field outputs high.

Sample Dynamic-Effort Power Series 1 – Game Day Lift:

Elevated Sumo Speed Pull 4 sets x 2 reps

Sample Dynamic-Effort Power Series 2:

Elevated Trap Bar Deadlift Speed Pull 6 sets x 3 reps

Step 5: Implement Contrast Training

I’ve had some pretty awesome results utilizing contrast training with my athletes over the past few years. I really like using this method of training as the athlete peaks for an event (gets closer to the competitive season). However, I have implemented contrast training a month or two before the athletes peaking phase with a lot of success as well.

How to Implement Contrast Training: With contrast training you’re going to perform a heavy (1-3 RM) strength exercise or heavy 5-10 yard sled drag/push and follow that with a jump, sprint, or throw.

Sample Contrast Training Pairing 1:
A1. SSB Pin Squat x 4-6 sets x heavy single at 95%+
Rest 15-30 seconds
A2. Box Jump 4-6 sets x 2 jumps
Rest 3-5 min following each set

Sample Contrast Training Pairing 2:
A1. Heavy Prowler Push 6 sets x 10 yards
Rest 15-30 seconds
A2. 10-Yard Unloaded Sprint 6 sprints x 10 yards
Rest 3-5 min following each set

Step 6: Advanced Contrast Training – French Contrast

I’ve found the french contrast to be an extremely effective training method for developing power/training the athletes nervous system. However, it’s extremely demanding and should be reserved for highly trained athletes only.

Here’s how I put together a french contrast cluster:

A1. Heavy Strength Movement 90% +
A2. Plyometric Movement
A3. Speed-Strength Weighted Plyometric
A4. Accelerated/Assisted Movement
Rest 5-10 min after each set – 3-6 total sets

Sample French Contrast Pairing:

A1. Hand-Supported Split Squat x 1/side
A2. Alt. Split Stance Switch Jumps x 2/side
A3. Weighted Alt. Split Stance Switch Jumps x 2/side
A4. Band-Assisted Alt. Split Stance Switch Jumps x 2/side
Rest 5-10 min after each set – 3-6 total sets

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