Explosiveness without barbells

Explosiveness without barbells

by Teo Kai Wen 26 Feb 2020

When one talks about training explosiveness, the Olympic lifts usually come to mind. However, not everyone may be willing or able to use technique-intensive exercises like the snatch and the clean & jerk without a fair amount of coaching and guidance. This however, doesn’t mean that the non-lifter will be left out in the cold when it comes to speed and power training. 


Explosive exercises activate high-threshold motor units to recruit more muscle during your training, and, in the long run, can allow you to recruit more muscle fibres with less effort – so it’s no surprise that they are staples in many athletes’ workout regimens. So what other barbell-less exercises can you perform to achieve explosiveness?


1. Overhead medicine ball slam

Brace the abs and hold a non-bouncy medicine ball overhead. Then, throw the ball to the ground as hard as possible while keeping the chest tall and eyes forward. Avoid bending through the waist or rounding in your shoulders.


2. Incline plyometric push-up

On a bench, assume a push-up position (hands aligned with the shoulders, legs fully extended, abs braced, back straight) before lowering yourself to the bench and then explosively pushing your body away. Aim for minimal movement in the torso.


3. Broad jump

Set up with feet about shoulder-width apart, and arms up at chest height. In preparation for the jump, simultaneously swing the arms while flexing at the hips and knees. Then, swing the arms simultaneously with the jump, driving off the legs and pushing the hips forward. Aim to jump both out and up to reduce stress on the knees, and bring your feet and arms back in front of you in preparation for landing. Finally, drop your hips as you near the ground to absorb force in a flat-foot position.


4. Squat jumps

Like with broad jumps, set up with feet about shoulder-width apart, and arms up at chest height. To load up the legs, perform a simultaneous downward arm swing and flex at the hips and knees. Then, rapidly swing the arms up while driving your feet into the ground and extending the hips and knees, taking off from the balls of the feet. During the jump, keep your arms fully extended overhead. When landing, bend your knees to absorb force evenly through the foot, not just through the toes. Your shins should be vertical and knees straight to avoid excess stress on the joints.


Equipment may not always be available to you, but that doesn’t mean it should compromise your training routine. Try incorporating these exercises into your workout, and you’ll be seeing gains in no time.