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5 Explosive Exercises to Make You Sharper, Faster, and Stronger

By Holly / February 14, 2016

We all know that guy.

He’s strong, lean, built like a machine, but above all…explosive.

Explosiveness – defined as the ability to produce force at a rapid rate  – is the trademark of athletics.

There’s nothing like it.

Whether you practice martial arts, run track, or play for your college football team, every athlete could benefit from increased explosiveness.

It’s the difference between winning and losing, the gap between getting that crucial rebound, or delivering the blow that decides the fight.

In this post, we’re going to show you exactly how to work on your explosiveness and what moves are essential to making this happen.

One note: these movements should be for those who have already been training and considered intermediate.

Explosive work places more force on your body and could lead to injury unless you place a premium on form and start slow.

EXERCISE 1: Seated Box Jumps



Seated box jumps are fantastic for developing your explosiveness because the act of sitting actually breaks the kinetic chain which forces you to recruit way more motor units to perform the movement.

Start with a small box and only worry about creating the most power from the seated position.

Perform 4-6 explosive reps before taking a rest and going again – mentally focusing on every rep.

Feel free to add height as you progress or even an added element such as a medicine ball.

EXERCISE 2: Jumping Lunges



Many sports require single leg strength where you may be unbalanced or using one leg more than another.

Jumping lunges are an excellent way to work single leg explosiveness.

This movement should only be performed by those with healthy knees and who already have a good grasp of the bodyweight lunge.

To perform this movement, explode vertically, switch your legs in the air and make sure you land softly on the other side. Ideally, your alternate knee will slightly touch the ground as you keep your chest up and shoulder blades back and down.

It’s recommended for beginners to perform a set of 12 lunges with a 10 second rest for four rounds.

EXERCISE 3: Kettlebell Swings



Kettlebell swings are an amazing way to build explosive power using your hips, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

But there’s one big problem with Kettlebell Swings: most people are doing them wrong and quickly fatigue and end up relying on the lower back and even arms and forearms to drive the weight up.

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To do this movement for power, use a lighter weight than usual and concentrate on “snapping” your hips as aggressively as possible while squeezing the back of your body and bracing your core.

Once you’ve mastered these in sets of 8-12, find a partner and have him/her tap the kettlebell down at its highest point, forcing you to bring it back with extra force.

EXERCISE 4: Clapping Push-Ups



So far, the power movement’s we’ve covered are lower body, but no matter what your sport you play, you shouldn’t neglect to train your upper body explosively.

Clapping push-ups are a great way to make this happen.

Using a closer feet stance than regular push-ups, perform a controlled negative (coming down to the ground slowly) and then push off the ground as aggressively as you can and clap or touch your hands together.

These are not easy and require coordination, motor control and muscular endurance.

Start small with clapping push-ups and stay short of failure early on, building your reps each and every week. Then, when you’re leaping off the ground and you feel like getting tricky, try going for a double clap.

EXERCISE 5: Explosive Burpees



Burpees are a full body strength and conditioning movement that deliver muscular endurance, mental training and lung capacity all in one shot.

We add a twist to the burpee by performing a vertical jump at the top of the movement and shooting back down quickly. Additionally, instead of the vertical jump, you can leap forward or tack on a tuck jump.

Make sure you stay tight with your core, don’t snake your lower back, and keep the reps clean and fast.

If you’re looking for a challenge, see how many explosive burpees you can perform in five minutes. If you manage 100, you’re in peak physical condition and you should give yourself a pat on the back.

You can do the burpee challenge anywhere, and if you give it maximum effort, you’ll have to be peeled off the ground.


Training for explosiveness is crucial for your athletic development. If explosive training is done correctly, it will have a significant impact on your regular training and help you burst through plateaus.

However, explosive training should come with a word of warning…

When people start plyometric training or incorporate explosive exercises into their routines, they make the mistake of thinking weights are required. They immediately gravitate towards exercises such as hang cleans and weighted box jumps.

However, trying to go heavy too soon only leads to injury.  Your own bodyweight and simple movements are all that’s required in the beginning. As you master these movements, or you find you training becoming stale, look to start slowly adding weights and practicing more complex movements.

About the author


Thank you for reading my article! I am Holly Nunan, a mother of three daughters aged four, six and eight. I'm an Exercise Physiologist with a passion for exercise, fitness, raising healthy children and natural and alternative remedies. I have a simple mission to help each reader that comes to our website to take away one new piece of healthy information that they can immediately apply to their life. If I've helped you find that today, it's mission accomplished!