The specific way you lift weights can actually change the effect you get. In order to generate the explosive power that is needed for sports like MMA or football you need to incorporate some explosive style training into your workout routine. There are a few things you need to know first before you try to blow the doors off of the gym the next time you go.

1. There are only certain exercises you will want to perform in an explosive style. For example, it doesn’t make much sense to do explosive bicep curls or lateral raises. This will not help you fight in any way, and puts you at a high risk of injury.

2. You need to choose the right weight so you can move the weight fast enough and get the benefit from training in this style. When it comes to explosive lifting, speed is your goal.

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3. Only add in this type of training once you have a good base of strength training under your belt. Build strength then speed.

4. Form on all of your explosive lifts has to be perfect. These are high risk/ high return moves. You can get amazing benefits from doing explosive lifts, but if done wrong you are at a high risk of injury.

Lets look at each point in a bit more detail so you know exactly what to expect when you start adding explosive lifts to your workout routine.

Exercise Selection

The true benefit of explosive style lifting comes from doing large compound movements and variations of them that require you to coordinate many muscle groups all at once to produce a surge of power.

The major compound exercises that are typically done in an explosive style are as follows:

Hang Clean
Full Clean
High Pull
Clean and Jerk
Push Press
One Arm Snatch

These lifts incorporate the major muscles of your back, hips, legs and shoulders.

It is possible to do other exercises in an explosive fashion as well. For example throwing yourself off the floor with each rep of a push up would be an explosive style of push ups.

Choose the Right Weight

You will need to experiment and find the correct weight for these types of lifts. When you are first learning these lifts you will need to start with very light weights in order to get your form and balance right. The goal here is to move the weight quickly, therefore it does not always need to be the maximum weights you can handle. The speed that you can generate doing these lifts is important and therefore choosing an appropriate weight is key to maximizing the intensity as well as speed of the lift.

Build Strength then Speed

This type of training is very intense and can cause injuries quickly if you’re not ready for it. I suggest having at least 6 months to a year of regular weight training and conditioning under your belt before you even attempt this kind of lifting. Mastering the foundation exercises of strength training and bodybuilding is the first step before getting into an advanced form of training like this.

The Importance of Form

Form is king. This kind of lifting requires you to check your ego at the door until you’ve got the form and balance perfect. If you are sloppy on any of these lifts, even for just one rep, you could sideline yourself with some pretty nasty injuries. Spend the time to learn these lifts properly with perfect form. Use light weights until you’ve got the balance and form down perfect. You also need to spend some time learning how to get out of the way of the bar if you ever lose you’re your grip on a lift or simply can’t finish a rep. The last thing you want to do is try a heavy clean and jerk and have it come crashing down on top of you because you didn’t take the time to learn the lift properly or how to escape a missed rep.

Explosive lifting can be a great addition to your strength and power training routine. If you are smart about it, and learn proper form you can use this kind of lifting to accelerate your gains and performance.


John Barban, MS
Author, The Adonis Effect
Learn How to Build a Dominant Body at