Friday, November 18, 2011

Explosive training doesn't make you explosive revisited

A title like that is usually guaranteed to prompt outrage in the comments.  Whenever I've had things like that up here -  like this - before guys pile on with their assertions that explosive traiin has to make you explosive....look at Olympic lifters or something.

The HIT school tends to say that the key is to get stronger and then learn to apply that strength explosively if that is what you sport requires.  Luke Carlson in my interview with him stated it like this:

A last question – what about explosive training? This is another tactic that often comes up – “train explosively to improve speed and power”. So we see people doing Olympic lifts, bounding, doing depth jumps. Is this just a waste of energy or is there any real benefit?


I think every athlete should train explosively; but this does not mean they should perform Olympic lifts, depth jumps, etc. Improvements in "explosiveness" are stimulated by the INTENT to move explosively; the outward demonstration of fast movement is not important (or desirable). For example, if a trainee is performing the barbell bench press, he/she should perform the initial repetitions in a slow and controlled manner. This minimizes momentum and maximizes muscle tension; muscle tension is the most important element in muscle fiber recruitment. As the lifter begins to fatigue, he/she can in fact attempt to lift the weight as fast as possible - attempt to "explode" through the weight. However, the weight will not move fast because the trainee is fatigued and the weight is heavy. However, from a motor unit/muscle fiber standpoint, the "explosive" stimulus has been provided. This approach can and should be applied to all exercises/muscle groups. If the weight actually moves fast during strength training, momentum is introduced and muscle tension is reduced (as the musculature is essentially unloaded); this is the exact opposite of the goal of strength training and the requirement for muscle fiber recruitment.


Anyway, that is just introduction.

Traditional sports science has also promoted explosive moves.  However I spotted this abstract yesterday and the full paper is available here.

A Comparison of Ballistic and Non-Ballistic Lower-Body Resistance Exercise and the Methods Used to Identify Their Positive Lifting Phases.

As I read it the researchers are saying that one of the issues with the traditional approach is that the way in which the metrics were measured skewed the results.  The usual methods of measuring power made the ballistic exercise seem to produce more power.

No significant differences were found in mean force or mean power between ballistic and non ballistic exercises.   

Their conclusion is that


These results challenge common perceptions of Ballistic superiority for power development.

8 comments:

Pål Jåbekk said...

I don't have the full article yet, but from the abstract this seem to offer some more insight: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22082794?dopt=Abstract

Oh, and thanks for a good blog

Chad said...

Whether the science is right, or not, I still believe in the law of specificity of movement. If you need to jump higher, you have to jump. If you need to improve your push ups, you have to do push ups, etc. I do agree that speed of a lift is integral, but I also believe that varying the speed of a lift is important as well.
Thanks, Chris!

Doug McGuff, MD said...

Explosive attempts should occur only after fatigue has occurred under slow controlled movement such that attempts to move as fast as possible result in very slow movement. Toward the end of a set, we are telling our clients to "hurry up" or "catch me" but their reps take 10 or 15 seconds to complete at that point. The INTENTION to move fast is the important aspect. After such conditioning the athlete can practice the precise skill of their sport, incorporating explosiveness in the actual activity (true specificity)

Jules said...

So does this imply that power cleans doesn't help my 5k kick if I'm focusing on form and strength?
(5 sets x 3 reps)
Imply to lift to fatigue, when form breaks down, in order to see gains in explosiveness?

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Sifter said...

....and then there is the Barry Ross thing about eliminating everything except partial deadlifts that are dropped upon completion. He swears all assistance stuff is superfulous.

superbootcamps george said...

One thing that struck me as I read this article was that they didn't measure, or seem to assess, the rate of force production. I may be reading it wrong, but it seems to me that the steepness of the acceleration curve is far greater for the ballistic movement than non ballistic....

Would this have changed the outcome if they'd measured it?

FredrickM said...

So whether the science is right, or not, I still believe in the law of specificity of movement. If you need to jump higher, you have to jump. If you need to improve your push ups, you have to do push ups, etc. I do agree that speed of a lift is integral.