If there is one physical quality that everyone needs above any other, it’s EXPLOSIVENESS. Of all the qualities we can work on, this is the one that we lack the most in general. It is also the one that is the most difficult to improve; the ability to produce a lot of power in an extremely short amount of time. This is what we are going to talk about this week. But first, let’s examine some of the more commonly discussed physical qualities that a human being can train and utilize.
The first quality that comes to mind for anyone interested in fitness is usually strength. There is a reason one of our main training organizations is named StrongFirst. Strength is a fundamental quality. Without it, many things are not possible in our daily life, from opening a pickle jar to lifting a suitcase, from carrying a baby to pushing a car. Strength is also something that has been studied extensively. We know that by training consistently and gradually increasing resistance (how much weight we use), our body will adapt. Over time we will be able to lift/push/press/pull MORE. In other words, strength is the result of constant adaptation to an increased resistance. Pretty simple to understand, and also fairly simple to train.
Endurance is also a quality that is often mentioned. Those who want to improve their cardio-vascular system usually choose an activity where endurance is of utmost importance, like running, swimming, biking or cross-country skiing. Of all the qualities we are discussing, endurance is the one quality with which human beings are the most gifted. In the African savanna, where we probably all originally come from, what helped us to survive was our endurance. We didn’t have strong claws or teeth, we were not very fast and clearly not very big, but we were able to walk and run for miles and miles while maintaining our core temperature within acceptable limits, and thus able to apply all the concepts of persistence hunting.
If your goal is to improve your endurance to a reasonable level, the simple act of walking a few miles every day is a sure way to do that. Just walk more often and longer. Case closed.
Mobility is the quality that is a bit different from the others because we ALL have a lot of mobility. Or I should say, we all HAD a lot of mobility — when we were toddlers. The ability to move our body in a lot of different ways, at different speeds, through the whole range of motion of ALL our joints is something we either have to keep and maintain, or something we have to work on and regain. In order to maintain or regain the ranges of movements that are integral for healthy movement, we need to spend a few minutes every day on the floor or standing, going through as many ranges of motion and complex movements as possible. At the studio, the GFE is a simple yet effective way to stay mobile and to grow our movement competency. As the old adage says: “Use it or lose it”.
The combination of speed + power = explosiveness. Explosiveness is, for most of us, the quality we most lack. Even if we are not born equal for the production of this quality (body types, limb lengths, etc., etc.), we are ALL subject to similar environments where the need for the combination of speed and power is rarely used. How often do we need to sprint? Where do we need to jump or vault? What would be the reason to lift a heavy object quickly overhead in our daily life?
This is the reason we are not typically gifted with the quality of explosiveness, we just don’t use it that much — and, we are not going to get any better at it if we don’t train it. The solution? Anything that helps us to generate more power quickly: think kettlebell ballistic lifts (swings, snatches, cleans), Olympic weightlifting, Parkour, tumbling, gymnastics, jumping, sprinting, etc…
Of all the above explosive activities, the easiest and most convenient ones for us at KETTLEBILITY to practice are probably our kettlebell swings and snatches. We use our big muscle groups to quickly move a heavy object many times with skill and precision. Additionally, if your joints and whole body allows for it, I would also recommend jumping, vaulting and sprinting. All in moderation with gradual and safe progressions will not only help you gain that combination of speed and power, but it will also help you reap the rewards of the side effects: tensile strength for your connective tissues, enhanced durability and resiliency.
We all tend to do the same thing: we train what we are already good at. We love training to our strengths, but training our weaknesses (the things with which we are not naturally gifted) will raise the level of ALL our abilities, and explosiveness is probably one of those things we can raise to a better level of ability.
Training ideas for your week:
- Identify your weak points: do you need more mobility? Strength? Endurance? Or Explosiveness?
- Dedicate at least one training session per week to working your weakest ability and making it better. Need help? We are here for you 🙂
- Work on improving your explosiveness at least once a week: swing or snatch a heavier kettlebell, if it’s safe to do so. If you haven’t learn to snatch a kettlebell, ask one of our KETTLEBILITY instructors if you are ready, and what is a safe progression might be for you.