Hey, folks, coach Alex here. And today I’m going to be answering one of my readers emails asking how to develop explosiveness in the legs, a.k.a. lower body power, specifically when you already have a decent base of lower body strength.

I’m going to run you through the reader’s question, highlight the problem and offer some practical solutions that you can use. And just in case you’re new here, I’ve been a professional strength and conditioning coach for 10+ years, alongside tutoring/educating for British weightlifting, so you can trust that I’m actually giving you quality, no-nonsense answers. Let’s jump in.

The Athlete’s Problem: Not Enough Lower Body Power

Let’s read it out, let’s give you some context and then we’ll jump in. So this chap’s asking. They’ve not specified a body weight, but they’ve said:

“hey, coach, been training for around two years now. my squat is around 140 kilos. My deadlift is 160 to 170 for sets of three. This person’s got a decent base of strength.”

They’re not super, super weak. I’ve definitely coached people a lot stronger, but again, they seem to be trained for a couple of years. They’ve made some decent progress, but they go on to say,

“what I’ve really struggled with is I don’t feel especially powerful or explosive when it comes to my sport.”

Coach Analysis: Strength Vs Power Development in Athletes

Now, they haven’t mentioned their sport here, so if you’re watching, if you are the person that sent this in, just let me know. Your sport. Drop it down in the comments. Send me another email. we have to assume from this that you’re a sport that requires some amount of explosive movement, which is a good range of sports. So I think this is going to apply to lots of people. So I’m going to suggest what you need to do.

Your message probably tells me that your training so far has been geared around strength type work, right? You’ve focused on bringing up your squat and your deadlift, bringing up your leg strength, which is a fantastic base. Good power is built from a good base of strength. Strength is the maximum amount of force you can produce power and explosiveness is the rate at which you can produce that force. It’s the speed at which you can produce it. Right?

So from there, what we need to be thinking about fundamentally is transitioning you a little bit. If we have this sort of force velocity spectrum, right? Where maximal forces here on the top left, and maximal speed/maximal velocity here on the bottom right. If you’ve done loads of your training on this strength end, we need to start shifting some of your training over this end. If maximal velocity is things like sprints, bodyweight jumps, plyometrics, we need to start shifting more of your training in this direction.

force velocity spectrum

My 2 Suggestion Solutions for Developing Explosive Lower Body Power

Now, there are two ways that I love to do this with athletes, right?

  1. More Velocity Oriented Training
  2. Transitionary / Intermediary Exercises In Combination With The Above

Velocity Emphasis Training

First way is literally just jumping straight in with like the more velocity based thing. So that can be things like your plyometrics. You could do squat jumps, counter movement jumps. You could do bounds, single leg bounds, double leg, alternating bounds. Just go to YouTube, bang in plyometrics. you’re going to find a bunch of different exercises you can do. Just start with the easier ones and build up to the ones that seem more challenging. Really good way to develop some lower body explosiveness and power. Boom.

Transitionary / Intermediary Exercises

Another I like to use is a little middle session, which is sort of like a strength speed type session. I love to use what I call, like, transitionary exercise, or, like, translating exercises to translate the strength that you develop into more velocity based work. So really good examples of these are things like clean pulls. So say you do deadlifts 160 for triples, and you want to do some kind of explosive hip extension movement over here, light at like, ten kilos. Well, to bridge that gap maybe you might use some clean pulls, like a weightlifting derivative at around 100 kilos. It’s somewhere on that spectrum. It’s not purely strength, and it’s not purely velocity based. It’s kind of in the middle.

I found that these kind of drills, these kind of intermediate drills, or intermediary like transition drills, do a phenomenal job. If you’re already someone that’s got a good base of strength, they really help you translate some of that strength into explosive power into that so that leg based explosive power.

How I Would Design a Training Week For Explosive Lower Body Power

The way that I like to implement this with my athletes that I find quite effective is, say you were training three times a week in the gym. I would keep one session as a strength session that you’ve been doing already. I would have one session as a very velocity based session. Maybe that’s going to be, you know, sprints plyometrics, all the stuff I’ve just mentioned. And then the 3rd session would be transitionary/intermediary type exercises. So if I was really trying to get an athlete as explosive as possible. That’s the approach I would take. I’d have those three different sessions:

  • strength work
  • transitionary work
  • velocity based work

Next Steps

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To Your Performance!

Alex Parry