Explosive, or ballistic training, involves lifting extremely heavy weights in a style not typically associated with bodybuilding. Instead of calmly moving the weight in a controlled manner, the trainer drives the weight up in an explosive manner. Speed is emphasized. The goal isn’t the ‘pump’, as with most training. The goal is simply to lift a heavy amount of weight as fast as possible using the entire body.
Explosive lifting leads to greater core strength, which will make the body stronger the next time you attempt to lift weights in your standard, controlled manner. Explosive training is what many new trainers use in the first year or two of training, when they don’t know much about what is considered proper form or lifting speed. Ironically, it is during this time period that many bodybuilders make the best gains. So maybe there is something to it!
Fast-twitch muscle fibers are used when muscles are asked to lift in this explosive manner. Since they are larger and more plentiful than slow-twitch muscle fibers, and they are often neglected in standard bodybuilding training, you are able to stimulate a new set of muscle to grow. Muscle fiber types are a topic often overlooked in bodybuilding, which is odd in a sport where grown men will measure their protein down to the individual gram. Perhaps entire ‘grids’ of muscle fibers are being neglected, and bodybuilders often don’t seem concerned. Use of varied techniques, including explosive training, allows the bodybuilder to stimulate these fibers, which can lead to new growth. And at the very least, moving heavier weights will add to motivation and make the trip to the gym more exciting.
Some exercises are more effective than others when it comes to explosive training. Compound movements always work best. Being able to recruit core resources to assist with the lifts are very beneficial. Bench press, standing military press, and squats are good movements to use when attempting explosive training. Always use a spotter. Also, devote extra time each workout to stretching and warm-up sets. The likelihood of injury is greater when using explosive force to lift a weight instead of the standard muscle groups. However, the benefits can be worth this risk. The growth that occurs as the body is forced to adapt to this stressful new workload will lead to new muscle growth. The body is a powerful organism, which adapts to just about everything you can throw at it, so why not throw some heavy weights at it from time to time?