Whether it be the Crossfit athlete with a shredded, bulging six-pack or a football players statuesque body glistening in the sun while completing MB throws and short sprints, fitness enthusiasts have been captivated at how these athletes could get so lean without completing low intensity cardio training consistently.

Explosive Strength Training (EST) will be operationally defined, for the purpose of this article, as those exercises which incorporate the acceleration of one’s body or an object into free space, which includes many different forms of movements and resistance training.

These exercises recruit the greatest amounts of muscle at a given load, meaning that it can give you many of the same benefits of slower resistance training movements without the same acute stress on the cardiovascular system. In other words, if you completed 10 body weight squat jumps and 10 Barbell back squats with a weight that made you use the same amount of muscle as the jumps, it would be the back squats that leave you breathing longer. This allows you to do more repetitions during a set amount of time.


Jumping and sprinting are the simplest forms of EST and the most complex are the Olympic weightlifting movements and its variations, with throwing implements (such as medicine balls and kettle bells) and adapted free weight exercises (like barbell squat jumps and pushup claps) falling somewhere in between.

Although you can add weight in many ways, the main resistance coming with sprints or jumps is your body weight, but if you ask someone who has ran 40 40 yard sprints or jumped up a flight of stadium stairs, they will say it is more than enough.

Medicine balls and kettle bells can be swung or thrown, on the right surface, while dumbbells should only be swung, to give exercises that are more intense than running or jumping due to the added weight. The Olympic lifts and their variations include the clean, the jerk, the snatch, and a variety of different “pulls”.

Due to the complexity of Olympic movements, the interested party should seek out avenues for attaining proper techniques before attempting in any fashion!

Now, what does any of this have to do with fat loss?

If you can combine any of the previously mentioned exercises with either a passive or active rest short enough to keep your heart rate elevated for a prolonged period of time, then you are burning calories at an increased rate.

By this, I mean you can perform 10 MB throws then lightly walk for a passive recovery (simply standing or sitting is not advised) or combining the medicine ball throws with jump rope in order to work at a lower intensity to let the body recover to a lower heart rate before another set is performed.

It is my personal recommendation to not let the heart rate go below 130 beats per minute throughout the ENTIRE duration of the circuit or session.Whether the recovery is more passive or active, you will still use a general work to rest ratio (work:rest) throughout the session or for a circuit within the session.

To use the same example as earlier, if you were to perform 10 medicine ball throws then 50 jumps with a jump rope, the medicine ball throws can be your work (maybe taking you 20 seconds to accomplish) and the jumps would be your active rest or lower intensity activity allowing you to recover (maybe taking you another 20 seconds to complete); which would give you a 1:1 work:rest ratio (20 seconds work: 20 seconds rest).

explosive strength training_2

The work

Rest ratios are also important for tracking your progress. If you were to perform a 30 yard sprint, which took you 5 seconds to complete, then had to perform medicine ball slams for 30 seconds before your heart rate recovered to a point where the sprints could be performed again, you could use that ratio to track your progress, the sprints would either get longer or the number of medicine ball slams would get fewer in number as you got in better shape.

In any case, the point is to perform more work. The more work you perform, the more calories you burn. Combining that with the consistently elevated heart rate for a prolonged period of time, you get a lot of fat being burned both during and after your workout session.

Here are a few examples of Explosive Strength Training sessions that would be tailored to people of different conditioning statuses

These circuits should be performed for 10-15 minutes after a proper warm-up. The relatively short time required for the circuits allows more than one kind of circuit to be performed within one session.

A note of caution, an emphasis on seeking the proper techniques on how to squat, swing, throw, jump, and run are pivotal before beginning any of these sessions or developing your own program. Because of the increased stress of this kind of training, it is always advised that those interested seek medical clearance before exercising.


– Squat jumps while holding medicine ball (10 reps or 15 seconds)

– Medicine ball chest pass against wall (10 reps or 15 seconds)

– Medicine ball slams on ground (10 reps or 10 seconds)


– Hill sprint (20 yards or 5 seconds) or stair sprint (20-30 steps or 5 seconds)
– Medicine ball vertical throw (5 throws or 10 seconds)
– Assisted ballistic pushups on stairs (10 or 10 seconds)


– Kettle bell swing (15 swings or 15 seconds)
– Pushup claps (10 reps or 10 seconds)
– Barbell squat jumps (5 reps or 10 seconds)
– Sledge hammer slams on tire (10 reps or 10 seconds)


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Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
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