The importance of strength for explosiveness is very high. Strength is a vehicle for speed/explosiveness.
Strength is dependent on:
- Recruitment and frequency of type 2 muscle fiber recruitment
- Size of muscle fibers (and therefore weight of muscle fibers)
The philosophy at Athlete Physics is to maximize strength improvements through recruitment and coordination of muscle fibers.
Talking to numerous coaches and reading many webpages makes me believe a cloud of confusion and misinformation surrounds explosiveness training. First, the physical attributes involved in explosiveness are largely genetic. Not all of us are designed to be as quick as Jordan Burroughs or John Smith. The muscle fiber type and speed of central nervous system (CNS) are genetically determined. Both of these components of physiology are critical for explosiveness. However, training can shift a slow twitch muscle fiber to act like a fast twitch muscle fiber and speed up the CNS. While we cannot control our genetics, we can control our training. The right program will stress and exert muscles and the nervous system in ways that make them contract faster and more forcefully.
How to train for Explosiveness
Before every rep of power training maximal concentration is needed with the intention of moving as explosively as possible. Athletes need to be relatively fresh before training for power and should stop a set or session if power output begins to diminish. Before explosive training sessions, wrestlers need to be physiologically fresh. A well rested CNS can send more powerful and more frequent impulses to muscles increasing explosiveness.
^ I think this can be a huge obstacle for wrestlers and wrestling coaches. Stubbornness is a good think in a wrestling match, but when it comes to training sometimes less is more. In the case of power training sessions, a wrestler might not feel like they completed a hard workout. This should be a function of entering the session relatively recovered and the session not being too taxing.
Attempting to train for power and explosiveness while fatigued is counter-productive. Training these attributes is best applied early in the training session and when the athlete is well rested (Joe Friel, 2007). Another component of losing developed explosiveness can be easily described with the saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, meaning you worked hard to improve explosiveness, but if you stop training for explosiveness, your improvements in explosiveness are the first to be lost. This is occurs because the nervous system no longer “remembers” how to work fast. This being said it is important to continue to train for strength and explosiveness even after improvement has been detected.
Last Bit on Training for Explosiveness
Personally, I remember training for explosiveness in high school and not having a good plan. I had read some articles stating the rep ranges from 2-6 are best for training for power. So when I decided to lift with the purpose of becoming more explosive, I had the mindset that I needed to do the most work in order to improve. Always completing 6 reps; EVERY SET, NO EXCEPTIONS. Sometimes I felt I did not get a great workout because I was not sore. This is not the mindset to have while training for explosiveness or even training for that matter. Most days after training for explosiveness, you will not be sore. This is okay because less is more when training for explosiveness. One of the guiding principles at Athlete Physics is to do the least amount of work (and spend the least amount of time) to get the most improvement.