ARX for the 21st-Century Athlete, Part II: The Best Way to Develop Explosive Power
In Part I of this series we discussed the primary way that an athlete’s explosive power is increased.
Despite the insistence in some corners of the strength and conditioning world that complicated programs, ballistic training, and mechanically-loaded “speed work” are requirements for building explosive power, we showed that maximizing an athlete’s strength does the job more safely.
Let’s explore some practical applications that demonstrate this fact.
From Principle to Practice
So you can make an athlete more powerful and explosive merely by increasing their maximum level of strength, even if they have accomplished this increase in strength using very, very slow repetition speeds. Since slower repetition speeds are safer, all things being equal, this seems like a great deal.
Let’s see how this works outside the weight room.
Let’s say the athlete’s task—instead of the 200lb leg press as in our example from Part I—is to perform a sprint to first base, a forty-yard dash, a vertical leap, a golf swing, or a deceleration followed by a change in direction.
The amount of force needed to perform these motions stays largely the same over time unless the athlete has a huge change in body weight. So this force demand represents the original 200lb leg press in our previous example.
If we train the involved musculature to increase the athlete’s force-producing capacity over time, you can see that the force demands in question occupy a smaller and smaller proportion of the athlete’s strength.
And as we’ve seen, the smaller the proportion of an athlete’s force-producing capacity a given movement occupies, the more explosive the athlete can be in that movement. It has nothing at all to do with the speed used in training. It is entirely a result of the fact that the athlete is now stronger per se.
Power = Work / Time
If an athlete can perform more work in a given unit of time, we can say he is becoming more powerful. The athlete demonstrates this increasing power production by exhibiting more explosive movements during competition.
The development of explosive power, then, is simply improving the amount of cumulative work that can be done within some time limit.
How do we best do that?
Work = Force x Distance
We can increase the amount of work an athlete can do by increasing the amount of force the athlete is able to deliver over some given distance.
In sports, the distances are often not subject to change:
● The distance between the defensive end and the quarterback will be the same year after year.
● The distance between home and first base will be the same year after year.
● The distance between the top of a backswing and the point of contact will be the same year after year.
● The distance between the halfcourt line and the baseline will be the same year after year.
● The distance between the top of a bicycle’s pedal stroke and the bottom will be the same year after year.
● The distance between the defensive backfield and the line of scrimmage will be the same year after year.
● The distance between the flexed-knee / flexed hip position and the extended-knee / extended hip position that propels you in your vertical leap will be the same year after year.
You get the idea.
So if we don’t have much influence on the Distance part of the Work equation, what does that leave us with?
That’s right. Force.
And force is produced by muscles. And the force-producing capacity of the muscles is called strength.
So by increasing our strength, we increase the Force part of the Work equation.
And by increasing the Force part of the Work equation, we increase Work, which increases our Power.
So there you have it, in a way that one cannot possibly fail to understand, no matter how much one’s paycheck depends on one, not understanding.
You do not need to “train fast” to improve your explosiveness or power. In fact, it could actually be counterproductive since adding ballistic momentum to your movements greatly increases your risk of injury.
Remember that you still do have to practice the explosive skills of your sport in order to maximize your explosive power. You cannot perform resistance training exclusively and expect to be the most explosive athlete in your specific sport.
But out of all the athletes who have practiced to the same skill level in a given movement or phase of their competition, the advantage will go to the one who has developed the greatest strength level in their auxiliary Strength & Conditioning work.
A stronger athlete is a faster, more explosive athlete, and the Adaptive Resistance™ available through the use of ARX provides the greatest magnitudes of mechanical loading possible, which stimulates the most rapid and most potent increases in maximum levels of strength.
This is the primary reason that ARX is the best tool available for increasing an athlete’s explosive power.
The next result of ARX’s adaptive resistance that improves explosive power will be discussed in Part III of this series: “Fast-Twitch Dominance.”
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