Strength And Conditioning, Weightlifting

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Super Setting To Improve Explosiveness

Published: 2024-03-14
Super Setting To Improve Explosiveness
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While many beginning weightlifters are focusing on technique development, the emphasis should eventually change to the development of explosiveness.  The ability to rapidly extend the knees and hips and plantarflex the ankles is absolutely crucial to success in the performance of the snatch, clean and jerk. 


The majority of the power in the pull-and-jerk drive will be generated by knee and hip extensions. Unless there is a problem with the inhibition of the antagonists, weightlifting success is dependent upon the muscles that extend the knee and hip joints and how quickly those muscles contract. 


The same goes for any other sports activities that are ground-based and dependent upon explosiveness.  These primarily include sprinting and jumping but can include change of direction and throwing, among others.




Muscles are made up of small contractile structures called motor units.  They can vary by function.  Some are structured for endurance, while others are more explosive.  The nervous system determines which ones are employed for a given contraction largely through training.  The greater the force that is to be generated, the more motor units are stimulated.  This phenomenon is called recruitment. 


Like all organs, muscles tend to save energy and will recruit the minimum number of motor units to generate the force being demanded.  One way to recruit more motor units is to fatigue many units and then generate an explosive force. 




Super setting is a practice that’s long been in place for bodybuilding training.  It consists of performing a set of one exercise followed by a set of another, similar exercise that impacts the same muscle(s).  This process encourages more growth in muscle size which is the goal of bodybuilding training. 


I’ve used the same protocol in training my athletes to improve the explosiveness of the knee and hip extensors, training the nervous system to activate more motor units.  I normally program this super setting during the preparation mesocycle about once per week. 




I employ two exercises: the Back Squat and the Vertical Squat Jump. 


The Back Squat is performed for a set of 3-4 reps at 80% of the goal weight for the macrocycle.  These should be performed with an effort to move the bar as quickly as possible through the mid-range of the movement. 



Immediately upon replacing the bar in the squat rack, the lifter then takes a step back and drops into a full squat and, from there, attempts to jump as high as possible for three reps.  The back squats fatigue a large number of motor units, and the motor nerves must then attempt to recruit more of the previously inactivated motor units in order to enable explosive jumping. 


Three sets in total (80%/3-0/3)3 should help to develop explosiveness in the extension of the knees and hips.  This super setting, when combined with other running and jumping on days of active rest, should develop more explosiveness in the pull-and-jerk drive. 


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