If you do a one rep max (1RM) deadlift, you're building maximum strength. It’s a heavy, slow movement where your body uses slow-twitch muscle fibers. But if you drop that weight to 30-80% of your 1RM, now you’re training power and using more fast-twitch muscle fibers because you're able to move that weight faster.
For Spartans, training for both strength and power is critical to gaining an edge on the course or in the DEKA arena.
“You have to put yourself in awkward positions and learn to explode out of them,” he says. “That’s what makes a competitor, that’s what separates the good athletes from the great athletes.” Spartan Master Coach Poppy Livers says.
The Best Exercises for Building Explosive Power
1. Kettlebell Deadlift to Box Jump
This exercise combination involves a concept known as contrast training, where you’re taking a pure strength-building move and combining it with a pure power move.
“I like going heavy with the kettlebell, then exploding with my body weight afterward,” he says. “You’ve got to really fight through the discomfort, but that’s part of the reason that it’s such a great combination."
This particular combo will help you jump higher and land softer. For more on contrast training and how it works, read this.
2. Dumbbell Clean to Reverse Lunge
For this particular combination, you’re not only building power, but you're increasing core strength and stability as well.
“The dumbbell clean is a power move all the way, but the reverse lunge comes in and tests your balance at the same time,” Poppy says.
The goal is to move explosively, but find your balance first before turning it up. This combination will improve your ability to jump while also bulletproofing your lower body for landings.
3. Lateral Box Jump
Out on the course (and in most sports), things can be unpredictable. You might be prepared to jump and land straight ahead, but what about a leap to the side?
“This is one of those awkward positions I like preparing for that gets overlooked a lot,” Poppy says. “Doing lateral box jumps will improve your coordination and balance, and will really help prevent injuries to the ankle, knee, and hip."
4. Explosive Kneeling to Standing Box Jump
“Everyone is familiar with the box jump, but this is the level up,” Poppy says.
If you’re proficient in the box jump, this is a good next challenge to build on your coordination, and the EXPLODE program will progress you into it.
“The key to this one is to really focus on what you’re doing, step by step,” Poppy says. “First do it right, then worry about making it quick."
5. Lateral Bound to Bear Crawl
When you do the lateral bound to bear crawl, you’re literally working everything: legs, core, and upper body.
“The key to this one is to focus on landing soft and staying in control of your hips, knees, and ankles before dropping into the bear crawl,” Poppy says. “This one’s very tough, but really builds you up in a lot of different ways."
Want to train like Poppy? Take on his 30-day EXPLODE workout program