Explosive Rep Training
You’ve all heard me stress the importance of ‘feeling the muscle work’ to build muscle tissue as well as using various weight lifting concepts such as negatives and muscle overload. These should become fundamental techniques as you progress in weight training experience but another technique for gaining muscle and strength is using explosive reps. Now some of you may tie explosive reps to only powerlifting and not so much bodybuilding, or rather building and shaping muscle. But this is a misconception.
Whether we train for strength, powerlifting, bodybuilding, or for mere cosmetic purposes we all pretty much have the same common goals; we want to get as big and strong as we possibly can with having minimal body fat. What good is it to bench 500 lbs yet not be able to walk up a short flight of stairs without running out of breath (aka – being fat)? On the flip, you don’t want to be skinny and weak either for the sake of calling yourself ‘ripped.’ All that being said, using explosive reps is a big part of the formula for maximum growth and strength.
How to Perform Explosive Reps
Let’s get into what explosive reps are. For starters, explosive reps aren’t the same as doing fast reps and that’s where some people may get confused. You still want to control the weight on the negative portion of the lift. But when it comes time to move the weight you want to move it with a powerful thrust back to the starting position. What does this do? This enforces maximum effort for that rep. Let’s briefly talk about the negative part of the movement though. As I’ve explained before, though taking several seconds to lower the weight now and then will indeed help boost your strength, I’m referring to controlling the weight. The actual rep may appear to be quick but you’re not letting the weight merely fall from the starting position of the movement.
Bench press is a good example of using explosive reps. You throw on a few plates after your warm up set and get ready to pound some weights. You grip the bar, unrack it and bring it down to your chest, not necessarily slow but controlling the weight. Once the weight is lowered you’ll use the most powerful thrust, giving it all you’ve got and getting the weight back to the starting position as quickly as possible. So again, the rep as a whole will happen fairly quickly.
I didn’t mean to make this a discussion about controlling the weight but this is more of a mental edge you have to tap into. In all reality the explosive part of the rep also requires a tremendous amount of mental preparedness and awareness. You’re lifting weights for a purpose, not just going through the motions. Even though you’re powering the weight back to the starting position you still want to work the actual muscle.
Explosive Reps Workout
Here’s an example of a bench press workout using explosive reps. This is also combined with a pyramid style training as you’re increasing the weight each set. This is a great way to warm up your muscles and also can help prevent injury. You can use this concept with any muscle group and pretty much any exercise. I prefer to use explosive reps with more compound movement, especially bench press, squats, and deadlifts. Do a couple of warm up sets before diving into your working sets.
Bench Press Set 1: 12 warm up reps with 135 lbs
Bench Press Set 2: 12 warm up reps with 185 lbs
Bench Press Set 3: 8 explosive reps with 225 lbs
Bench Press Set 4: 8 explosive reps with 275 lbs
Bench Press Set 5: 6 explosive reps with 315 lbs
Build Muscle, Increase Strength, and Burn Fat
Another point worth mentioning is there are other benefits to explosive reps you may not think about at first, at least I didn’t. One is with using such force to move the weight your heart rate is going to jump. You’re sort of getting a high intensity interval training session as well, which is said to burn fat. Of course you don’t want to think of this as a session on the elliptical. Mentality, you need to be thinking about your lifts. But it’s certainly not a bad addition.
If you’re not doing so already, try explosive reps during your next workout. Go through the key points in this article which are controlling the weight on the negative portion followed by quick and powerful bursts getting the weight back to the starting position. Focus on the technique and making the muscle work overtime. Remember, you’re not in there to merely throw weight around; you’re doing this to build muscle and get stronger.
Train with Passion,