3 Effective exercises to make you explosive without a barbell

Athletes need power, which means a combination of strength & speed.  The reason Olympic lifts are so popular among elite athletes around the world is that they are really effective.  However, what if you don’t have a barbell and bumper plates, or no coach to teach you the technique?

While Olympic lifts are great, they aren’t the only way to train your explosiveness.  Here are 3 exercises that are really effective and don’t require the barbell.  You still need to use good form; it just may be a bit easier to get it even without a coach.

Standing Broad Jump

There is nothing new about this one, but it’s been around a long time for a reason.  Like any jumping exercise it combines the speed of rapid muscle contraction, with the application of large forces into the ground.  It also takes coordination through multiple joints in the body.  That’s a great recipe for athletes wanting to improve explosiveness.

Using a rapid counter-movement, you put the muscles around the hips, knees and ankles on stretch, then explosively contract them to get full extension in all 3 joints.  This “triple extension” action is key in many sports and why this exercise pays dividends.

An important added benefit is in the landing.  By focusing on landing soft and balanced, you are training explosive deceleration.  That’s the ability to absorb forces rapidly and it’s critical in most sports.  Its also a huge help in preventing injury.

Jumping on turf or grass surface.

3-5 sets

3-5 jumps

Skater Jumps

Another tried and true favorite, skater jumps have all the advantages of the standing broad jump, while adding a lateral movement component as well.    These might have you looking like a hockey player jump sideways from one foot to the other, but they benefit athletes in so many sports.

In addition to generating explosiveness in the take-off leg and eccentric power in the landing leg, they are really functional.  Functional, because you’ve added the challenge of moving on a single leg.  This is needed in so many sports.

Add in the the lateral movement and you are really working on all the stabilizers of the hip and some aspects pf balance.  All combined, these are things almost every athlete needs.

Jumping on turf or grass surface.

3-5 sets

3-5 jumps on each leg

Depth Jumps

Not for the beginner, depth jumps are an intense plyometric exercise guaranteed to stress your body.  That stress, when done in small doses, can have a big impact on increasing strength and power.  This is the plyo exercise where you step off a box, land and then go right into another explosive jump.

The benefits in this jumping drill are magnified because of the step off the box.  Dropping from a height lets gravity accelerate you towards the ground.  When your feet make contact all the involved joints and muscles must absorb and then generate even higher forces.  To protect yourself, the body is going to do this reflexively and you’ll put more force into the jump that immediate follows.  The key is to not overdo it.

Jump from a box 12-36” high

2-5 sets

2-4 jumps.

No Barbell, No Problem

While Olympic lifts and their variations are great for athletes wanting to build power, they may not be possible for everyone.  These 3 classic exercises have been proven for decades to help athletes improve their power.  They are also a great addition when you can do Olympic lifts.  Give them a try and see some gains.

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