Which exercise is best to improve explosive power? Before diving into the details, let’s quickly review a basic physics lesson.
Power is the rate at which work is done.
Simply stated, when lifting a given weight (eg 100kg or 220lb) faster, you are exerting more power. When you accelerate on a bike from a standstill to 40mph within a shorter distance, you are exerting more power. Sports like track sprinting and Olympic weightlifting are primarily tests of explosive power. The more power you generate, the more explosive you are. You will be able to sprint faster or lift more weight overhead.
While the exact benefits of plyometrics exercises are a little hard to quantify, a number of research studies show a positive correlation between plyometrics and enhanced power generation. See links under References for additional information.
There are many plyometrics exercises. We will stick with exercises that require minimal equipment, especially given the current sheltering-in-place mandates in many countries. Before attempting any box jump, warm up sufficiently and definitely ease into the routines. Plyometrics exercises are not inherently dangerous, but mishaps could cause serious injuries.
1) Box Jump
Below is a video I made in Reykjavik, Iceland. I was on holidays and dropped in a local gym without the Plyosoft Boxes that I would normally have access to. This actually illustrates how improvisations are sometimes required. I stacked up a couple of steps and weighed the effort with a medicine ball. One way or another, it is imperative that you start building up gradually. Knee-high is a perfectly acceptable height to begin with.
As you gain confidence, gently increase the height. One word of caution, it is counter-productive to go much beyond waist-high. Instead of explosiveness, it may become a test of hip flexibility.
2) Seated Box Jump
Whenever I see see someone running across the room to perform a box jump, I cannot help but cringe. The exercise is far more effective when power generation is isolated. This seated box jump variation will all but eliminate cheating by forcing a static start.
3) Depth Jump
We will wrap up this post with another advanced variation: depth jump. Please do not rush into this exercise unless you have a solid foundation performing the basic variations for at least a couple of months. The impact is tremendously stressful on the joints and tendons.
Depth jump involves stepping off a platform, landing on the ground and then immediately jumping onto another elevated platform. This rapid series of movements trains conversion of elastic energy into contraction.
Plyometrics exercises should be an integral part of your training routine. Not only do they break up the monotony, these jumping exercises improve your explosiveness, agility, and overall athleticism. You jump, I jump.