How to Develop Explosive Strength

Louie Simmons
Mon Feb 03, 2020

How to Develop Explosive Strength

By: Louie Simmons

Tags: explosive, jumps, dynamic


First, let’s answer the question...

“What is explosive strength?”

    Zatsiorsky described explosive strength roughly by dividing the maximum force by the time taken to produce this level of force. You can also think of explosive strength as the ability to rapidly increase force (Tidow 1990). It is said that the steeper the increase of strength in time, the greater the explosive strength.


    Jumping will build explosive strength by combining speed, strength, neuromuscular coordination and using the elasticity of the body. One method of building explosive strength is to jump up onto a box. When you can jump higher at the same bodyweight or a heavier bodyweight, you are more explosive.

    The formula to measure explosive strength is called momentum impulse. It calls for 24 jumps two times a week for novices, 40 jumps for the more mature or advanced athletes, and 120 jumps for the highly advanced. Use resistance in the form of Kettlebells, ankle weights or a weight vest. When doing long jumps, use Kettlebells on the take-off phase, but release them before landing.

Depth Jumps

    With depth jumps you will jump off a box at no higher than 30 inches. Upon landing immediately jump up as if the floor was on fire. This response is the absorption phase, also referred to as the amortization phase. This phase cannot last longer than 0.15 seconds between the falling and the concentric phase. This is caused when the kinetic energy produces a powerful myotatic stretch reflex that leads to eccentric muscle contractions along with an explosive isometric contraction. This happens at the end of the eccentric action and the start of the concentric action.

    The number of total jumps is the same for jumping with resistance jumping. Westside has always followed the instruction of Yuri Verkhoshansky.


Shock Methods, Yuri Verkhoshansky

Explosive Power and Jumping Ability, T. Starzynsi and H. Sozanski PhD.

Science of Sports Training, Thomas Kurz

Supertraining, Dr. Mel Siff

Explosive Strength Development for Jumping, Louie Simmons

    After reading about the relationship of force and velocity you will better understand the concept of explosive strength with the Dynamic Method.

Dynamic Method

    Lifting or throwing a non-maximal load with the highest speed possible is the Dynamic Method. Explosive strength is trained at high velocity.

    For barbell training to build explosive strength, you need to train from 30 percent to 40 percent of a one rep max. For explosive strength, the reps can be up to eight per set. Forty-eight lifts per workout would be maximal, 36 would be optimal and 24 minimal. This covers all barbell lifts including squats, jerks, pulls and presses.

    There is no such lift that will build explosive power, but rather it is the velocity at which the lift is trained. One of Westside’s most-used special exercises is the wide box squat. To do this lift, roll back on the box while picking up the feet and slamming them down when separating off of the box. Bolt would use this method sometimes as would George Frenn of the original Westside Barbell from Culver City, California.

    If you want to raise your explosive strength, build your maximal strength as it makes all special strengths increase.

    When doing depth jumps, you must choose the right height from which to drop. Fifty-five to 60 centimeters are the most productive for explosive strength. The very top track athletes can drop from 75 centimeters, but only the very top trained. This fact is from the research of Yuri Verkhoshansky. Most will be absolute strength when dropping from boxes higher than 60 centimeters due to a longer absorption time or the amortization phase.

Upper Body Explosive Strength Training

    Medicine balls can play a large role in building explosive power in the upper body, especially the arms.

1) With medicine ball throws, it is important to release the ball as fast as possible to be plyometric.

2) Use it for drop-down push-ups and changing from eccentric to the concentric phase.

3) With a medicine ball that is hanging from the ceiling, push away as powerfully as possible and then catch and reverse the ball’s momentum as fast as you can. This is sometimes called a pendulum device.

4) Throw a medicine ball into a rebounder and catch and return it as fast a possible after the catch.

5) Use a device that slides on vertical rails where a load can be dropped at the rate of 9.8 m/s, then stop it and throw it back up as fast a possible.

    All five of these help to improve your reactive reflexes. Remember; the work produced by the reversing is close to equal to the kinetic energy of the falling body. To calculate, use the following equation:


(M) The mass of the falling body

(H) The height from which it falls

(g) The acceleration of falling object under the influence of Earth’s gravity


Compensatory Acceleration Training

    The author is known for developing the Combination of Resistance Methods. One downfall of building explosive power is the deceleration at the end of the movement when using Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT).

    CAT calls for using maximum acceleration throughout the full range of motion. But at the top or lock-out in any lift, the force is lessened due to the relationship of the force posture curve.

    To reverse this action you must use bands on the barbell to provide accommodating resistance so to place the maximum force at lockout. But there is also a powerful effect to the bar that is transmitted into the body of the athlete which causes an over speed eccentric action that is used for an increased reversible action. How? The rubber bands will shoot you down eccentrically causing a powerful change and rapid excitation of the working muscles and their ability to rapidly change from the eccentric phase to the concentric work.

    Stop and think about when you drop a rubber ball. It will only flatten out on the bottom a small amount. This is deformation. But, if you throw the same ball downward as fast as possible, it will flatten out much more. This deformation will cause the ball to rebound much higher and faster. This is what the over speed eccentrics caused by the rubber bands will do.

    For more information on this subject, watch the Westside podcast and/or subscribe to the Conjugate Club.

Or, again, check out these references:

Supertraining, Dr. Mel Siff

Shock Methods, Yuri Verkhoshansky

Science of Sports Training, Thomas Kurz

Explosive Power and Jumping Ability, T. Starzynsi and H. Sozanski PhD.

Explosive Strength Development for Jumping, Louie Simmons

Basic Physics, Second Edition, Karl F. Kuhn