Get Strong, Then Explosive

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Anyone who’s watched video of college football players prepping for the NFL Scouting Combine might think all they do is plyometrics and other ballistic training moves. And while this type of exercise is great for boosting the bursts of movement that aid most athletic feats, a study published in the January 2010 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise suggests a solid base of strength training is also key.

New Zealand researchers divided 24 men into three groups based on their strength level — one “strong,” one “weak,” plus a control group — and had the first two groups perform maximal-effort jump squats three times a week for 10 weeks. At the end, both groups were able to run 40 meters faster and jump higher and more powerfully, but the “strong” group experienced a more pronounced jumping performance improvement.

In other words, any athlete can benefit from explosive training, but you’ll see better results if you’re built more like New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush than, say, Saints kicker Garrett Hartley.