T Nation

explosive leg training (Chad Waterbury)


In your opinion, what would be a good example of an explosive leg workout, provided that my maximal leg day was quad dominant?


I’m not sure what you mean when you say your maximal leg training day is quad dominant. Does that mean you want a hip dominant explosive exercise or do you want to keep the focus on the quads during your explosive training also? Either way I recommend my jumping box squats. For hip dominant, use a very wide stance and lean the trunk forward to about 45 degrees before reversing the motion on the box. Also, start the movement with the knee joint greater than 90 degrees as prescribed in my article. For quad dominant, keep you feet shoulder width, or less, and focus on keeping the trunk more vertical (about 60 degrees) before reversing the motion. Also, if quads are your priority, start with a lower box height (knee joint less than 90 degrees) before starting your progression to a four inch box.
Hope this helps, if not, let me know.


Sorry about the confusion. I was wondering would I use the jumping box squat by itself, or is it necessary to include other exercises? If not, that’s great. I can do the workout at home. Also, how can I find out more info on the techniques you use?

seems to me that explosive front squats could be a viable alternative.

I prefer to start with approximately 30 sets during my explosive workouts. For instance, perform 10 sets jumping box squats, 10 sets of machine leg curls, and 10 sets of Decline sit-ups. Why I chose the last 2 exercises is beyond the scope of this response. But basically, it has to do with the fact that machine leg curls and sit-ups can be unloaded (no resistance) at the bottom of the movement which requires you to restart the motion, thus building accelerating strength. I have written an entire article on this subject that should come out in the near future.

While you’re at it could you maybe give an example of a complete workout for the upper body on the explosive day, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for responding. I have another question for you. What other explosive exercise would you substitute for the jumping box squat. Please bear in mind that I’m working with little to no equipment.


Solomon - I would not recommend straying too much from the box squat. With all the possible variances using wider/narrower stances along with different starting heights, performing loaded (i.e. barbell, bands, etc.) or unloaded - I really see no reason to vary too much. But I understand your position. I like to use explosive deadlifts with a barbell but I know that doesn’t help you since you have minimal equipment. As stated in my article, you can use a couch, chair or anything else to sit on when performing box squats. It doesn’t have to be a box manufactured for squatting. There are hundreds of explosive lower body movements you could perform but I am not that conforming. I want my clients to benefit as much as possible from each movement, even if it means having less options. I prefer to utilize exercises that can be unloaded before reversing the movement. Therefore, the possible exercise option list becomes much smaller so the above variances become extremely important.
Anyway, you could perform jumping split squats, jumping step-ups or any other exercise you can imagine but you won’t build as much starting strength as with box squats and deadlifts.
I’m sure this isn’t exactly what you wanted to hear, but it is true.

Explosive Push-ups 10 sets x 3 reps, 60s rest
Unloading Pull-ups 10 sets x 3 reps, 60s rest
Medicine Ball Overhead Throw 10 sets x 3 reps, 60s rest

The unloading pull-ups are performed on a bar that allows your feet to rest on the floor (unloading your body weight) between reps, thus building starting strength. If you are not strong enough for that, use a lat pulldown and let the weight rest on the stack between reps.
The medicine ball throws should be performed with the same pathway as an overhead press. Throw the ball straight up in the air (don’t do this in the middle of a busy gym!).
Hope this helps.


Again, thanks for all your help. One more question and them I’m done. Is it necessary for your feet to leave the ground while doing explosive box squats or is powerful hip extension more important. The reason I ask is that I am always concerned with knee stress during explosive movements. Your help is always appreciated.

Yes, it is important for your feet to leave the ground. If they don’t, then you are not applying a maximum continuation of force. Slowing down a movement when approaching lockout will slow your explosive strength building efforts.
The knee stress will be minimal if you follow my guidelines and keep the external load very light, or not at all, which works extremely well for most lifters.

Thanks for the help.