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Explosive Strengths

Is there a difference between the explosive strength acquired by doing explosive squats, bench, pushups, etc. and doing olympic lifts? I’m curious because by doing olympic lifts you progress but with other explosive-geared lifts you don’t?

I am not sure what you mean by “explosive squats, bench, pushups etc” but I think the answer to your question lies in the HIP recruitment pattern of the olympic lifts as opposed to the ones you listed. Explosive strength in those things is great but if you don’t have it in the hips it won’t matter. What exactly do you mean by progress? What are you trying to accomplish?

olympic lifts require the greatest range of motion because your bringing the bar from the ground to above your head. they also incorporate pretty much all your muscle groups so they are excellent for building overall explosive strength due to the distance you move the bar and the amount of muscle involved. explosive squats, bench, etc. also are effective at building explosive strength if done correctly. half of the westside principles of lifting are based on explosive strength in squat and bench through the dynamic days. the other half is based on max strength. So to answer your question, yes doing other lifts explosively can lead to extremely good progress. you can’t ignore max strength though. even olympic lifters do max strength workouts with front squats and other movements, so basically any movement done correctly in explosive fashion along with max strength workouts should produce good results. like i mentioned at the beginning though, i think the more compound of a movement and more muscle involved the better when it comes to explosiveness.

To my understanding strength is on a continuum with max strength on one end and speed and/or strength endurance on the other, power in between etc. Resistance(weight belt, sled, carrying plates), distance, speed, range of motion and height (ie box jumps) are all ways of progreessing. Am i on the right track?

What do you mean by progress?

Paraphrasing page 513-514 in The Weightlifting Encyclopedia: 1. Just practicing the oly lifts teaches one to explode. 2. Practicing the oly lifts teaches an athlete to apply force in the most effective sequence 3. Learning the oly lifts teaches athletes to accelerate objects under varying resistances (ie when the bar is going fast, not much force can be applied & vice-versa-that’s why olers pull the bar off the floor slowly) 4. The body learns to absorb forces (the squat under) from another moving body (the bar) 5. The lifter learns to move effectively from an eccentric contraction to a concentric one through the stretch-shortening cycle 6. The movements made in oly lifts are among the most common encountered in athletics 7. Practicing the oly lifts trains an athlete’s explosive abilities & they measure the athletes’ effectiveness to generate explosive force 8. oly lifts are fun (that’s not as important as the others). For all those reasons I think make the oly lifts different from doing some other thing with compensatory acceleration. When using a light weight on the squat, you only use a light weight. When doing, say, a snatch, the weight starts out ‘heavy’ when it’s on the platform. As the bar gets higher, a lifter is in a more favorable position so they can start pulling ‘fast’ instead of ‘hard’. A lifter doesn’t get the same effect with speed squats because the bar is light the whole time.

your post isnt very clear as to exactly what you mean, but one thing to consider about explosive movements such as benchs, squats etc is that at the end range of movement your body naturally breaks the movement through contraction of antagonistic muscle groups, so as to stop your joints being ripped apart. during explosive reps on a bench press (when done with lighter weights) the last third of the range of movement there is no force being generated by the agonist because the antagonists are decelarating the movement, this is where olympic lifts have the advantage as they require constant acceleration to complete the lift. my advice is to do your olympic lifts and when trying to gain explosiveness on benches etc use a heavy weight and TRY to move it fast, this will require your body to recruite and syncranise all available muscle fibres throughout the full range of movement.

What I mean by progress is progress in amount of weight lifted. For example with explosive benches squats etc. you work with a weight at approx. 50% of your 1RM, and you do not expect to inrease your 1RM by doing this, just the speed of the movement. But with olympic lifts, you work with a weight close to your 1RM, and your objective is to increase it.


Foot Soldier, the speed benching and squatting method the you are referring to was popularised by Westside Barbell and the reason they do this explosive training with light weights is to increase their 1RM in these lifts.