The Quest for Explosive Power
Explosive power comes from your muscles and is dependent on how they are used. Muscles are made up of tiny fibres and it is these that hold the key.
There are two types of muscle fibre, slow twitch (Type 1) and fast twitch (type 2). Type 1 fibres contract slowly but keep going for a long time. They use oxygen and glycogen as fuel. Because they use oxygen, they are aerobic in nature. Type 2 fibres contract quickly but rapidly get tired. They use Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) and glycogen as fuel and are anaerobic in nature.
Human muscles contain a genetically determined mixture of both slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibres: about 50:50 in most of the muscles used for movement.
For explosive power, contraction, we need to look at the Type 2 fibres. These are split into Type 2a and Type 2b. Each of these is genetically determined at birth so you have what you’ve been dealt.
You cannot change the amount of Type 2b fibres but, the good news is that Type 2a fibres are intermediate, as far as that depending on training stimulus they can be either fast or slow twitch.
So how do you recruit the Type 2a fibres? To train for fast twitch adaptation you need to carry out strength, power and speed dominant activities.
Plyometric training can help. Exercises such as jump squats, speed squats and press-ups, where you hands leave the floor, are just some examples. I’m sure YouTube has lots more.
If you are training with weights then use a heavy weight that allow you to carry out 4-5 repetitions for 3-4 sets. Concentrate on the explosive part of the movement – move quickly. Let the weight come down fairly quickly but still under control. Personally, I would stick with compound exercises, ones that use more than one joint. Look to train chest, back, shoulders and legs.
You could also incorporate sprint runs into your schedule. Pace out 60+ meters, sprint as fast as you can to your marker and walk back to the start. Repeat 10 times.
Let’s not forget Sui Nim Tao. The second part and beyond trains the release of power. Work on relaxing your muscles through the movement, and contract sharply at the end.
To fuel your workout and training you will need a combination of carbohydrate, protein and fat.
Your body will turn carbohydrates in to glycogen that is stored in your muscles. Glycogen is also required for the formation of ATP.
Ensure you are consuming adequate protein. If you are regularly training, aim to consume 1.5g to 2g of Protein per Kg of bodyweight. Any more than 2g per Kg will not provide any further benefit, you will just end up with expensive urine!
Fat is important, not only is it used for energy but also it is required for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D and E. Look to keep intake of saturated fat at a low level and try to avoid hydrogenated fat/trans fat if at all possible.
If you make a plan around these guidelines, you will see and feel an improvement in your explosive power in around 6 weeks.
Mark Solomons is a fully qualified Sifu in the UKWCKFA with many years of experience. He is a qualified fitness and nutritional coach and able to develop training programmes and weigh control regimes to help all. He is very competitively priced. Mark is also employed by a number go Health Authorities to help the community.