Strength, power, and speed are improved in athletic performance with the use of explosives.

You can use different types of movements, tempo, and rep ranges to increase speed, power, or both in order to get an advantage in your chosen sport, or just an extra boost in your overall athletic ability.

This article explains everything you need to know about performing and designing a high intensity fitness routine.

female swings a kettlebell
minamoto images/Stocksy United

Functional movement is possible with the use of explosives because of the combination of speed, strength, and power training. Improving reaction time can be achieved with strong explosives.

People assume that training for athletes is only for those who want to improve their performance. In everyday life, explosive training can serve a purpose.

If you see your child falling from the top of a slide and need to chase them, you will use strength to get there quickly.

Yes, in short. Strength training, speed training, and power training are needed to improve the strength of the explosive force. You can maximize your strength and agility by being proficient at all three.

However, training specifically for muscle size — also known as hypertrophy training — requires a different approach than training for strength. If it’s muscle size you’re after, explosive workouts may not have the effect you’re looking for.

Strength training is done at a slow speed.

Speed training includes exercises completed at a high velocity, like sprints or agility drills, with or without resistance.

Power training involves movements that produce a lot of force at moderate speeds, like plyometrics.

In a 2017 meta-analysis on youth athletes, it was concluded that while power plyometric training was more effective at increasing jump height, strength training was more beneficial in terms of sprint speed. So it’s beneficial to include both power and speed training for maximum explosiveness (1).

Research suggests a periodized approach to your training that targets strength training prior to power training to create a baseline of strength will yield the best results when it comes to explosiveness (1, 2).

This periodization could be done in longer-term phases, or in separate workouts throughout the week.

If you can recover between sets, keep your intensity and repetition low for speed improvement.

Research has found that sled sprints are one effective way to increase sprint speed, especially in the acceleration and maximum-velocity phase of the movement. The same study also determined that the overall volume is more important than the load when it comes to this sort of activity (3).

Another 2016 study in soccer players demonstrated the benefits of sled sprints in overall speed over plyometric training (4).

Specificity is the most important factor in training for athletes. You need to find out what performance benefits are right for you.

A group of people were put on an exercise bike to see if they could improve their sprint performance.

After 4 weeks of high intensity 30-second intervals on the bike, the participants improved their cardiovascular fitness and their VO2 max, but their 30-meter sprint performance did not improve (5).

This was because they were not training the muscles used when producing sprinting speed. Rather, they were using the muscles involved in cycling.

If you are involved in a sport that has a lot of quick sprints, you should consider training by using quick sprint workouts.

If you want to train for an activity that has a lot of movements, you should use explosive movements.

If you want to combine strength, power, and speed training, you can focus skill one at a time and then switch.


Strength training using high weight at low weight is one of the things that is part of balanced explosive workout routine.

The three best explosive exercises for increasing speed

  • Sprinting. Short sprints on the track — anywhere from 10 to 40 meters (32 to 131 feet) — are great for developing overall speed.
  • Sled pushes or sled pulls. Load-up a sled with a light to moderate weight and push it 20–40 meters (66 to 131 feet) across the floor as quickly as possible. Then turn around and pull it back. You want a total of about 160 meters (525 feet) per session, according to a 2018 meta-analysis of several studies on sled performance (6).
  • Shuttle runs. Set up two cones 30 feet (9 meters) apart and run from one to the other. Then turn around and run back. You can make this more advanced by using 4 cones and adding some lateral and backwards movement, running forward 30 feet to the first cone, then running to the right 30 feet to cone two, then 30 feet backward to cone three, and then 30 feet to the left, ending up at the start.

Explosive sprint workout

  1. If needed, run 5 x 15-yard sprints for at least 2 minutes.
  2. Rest 2–3 minutes or longer if needed after 5 x 25-yard sprints.
  3. Rest 2–3 minutes or longer if needed after running 5 x 40-yard sprints.

Explosive sled workout

Five rounds of the following are required.

  1. Push the sled 20 yards as quickly as possible, then rest as needed.
  2. Pull the sled as fast as possible.


agility exercises like shuttle runs are best for increasing speed.

The best explosive exercises for increasing power

  • Box jumps: From a half-squat position, jump up onto the box. Step down one foot at a time and repeat. Try 3–4 sets of 5 reps with 2–3 minutes between sets for power performance.
  • Plyometric pushups: Start at the top of a pushup position. Lower yourself into the bottom position of the pushup with control, then explode as powerfully as possible out of the bottom with enough force so that your hands leave ground. You can clap here if you want but that is not required. Land back down as gently as possible and repeat. Try 3-4 sets of 5-10 reps.
  • Kettlebell swings: Put your feet about twice the distance of your hips apart. Place the kettlebell in front of your feet, in the center of your legs. Engage your core and pick up the bell with straight loose arms. Make sure your shoulder blades are stabilized. Keeping hold of the kettlebell, throw the weight back between your legs, flexing at the hips and sitting them back slightly, and swing the kettlebell back between your legs. Squeeze your glutes, bring your hips forward to a neutral pelvis position, and swing the weight up to chest or eye height, with straight arms. Ensure that the movement comes from the hip extension, and not by lifting your arms. Repeat 3–4 sets of 6–12 reps.
  • Dumbbell push presses: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold two dumbbells at your shoulders. Lower down into a slight squat and then extend your hips, using that momentum to help your drive the dumbbells up over your head until your arms are straight. Lower the dumbbells and repeat. Complete 3–4 sets of 3–6 reps.
  • Squats: Perform these with a controlled eccentric phase (on the way down) follow by a powerful concentric (on the way up), hip extension. Do these for 3-4 sets of 3-8 reps. You can also add a jump for more challenge.

Explosive workout for power

The plan below shows how to alternate the two exercises in each set for the number of reps and sets.

1a) Front squat: 4 sets of 4 reps

The box jump consists of 4 sets of 5 reps.

Rest 2–3 minutes between sets.

Push press has 3 sets of 4 reps.

3 sets of 8 reps is what the Kettlebell swing has.

Rest 2–3 minutes between sets.

2 sets of 5 reps are used for the bench press.

2 sets of 10 reps are used for the pliometric pushup.

Rest 2 minutes between sets.


Box jumps, plyo pushups, kettlebell swings, push-presses, and squats are great movements for increasing power.

Sport-specific training is ideal for speed. If you want to be the fastest distance runner there is, you will have to spend most of your time doing distance runs, but if you want to be the fastest distance runner there is, you will have to do some short speedwork.

If you want to keep it simple, go back to strength training. Progressive overload with heavy compound exercises will provide the best bang for your buck when it comes to speed and power.

The best of strength, speed, and power are combined to provide the best results for athletic endeavors. Everyone can benefit from the workouts, because they will help you respond to the stimuli in a more efficient way.

If you want to improve your sports performance, you should train with specificity, and include all three types of training in your programming.