Explosion is a popular word for coaches and athletes. It can be defined as a violent, rapid transmission of energy outward as a shock wave. Those words give a clear and accurate picture of what explosiveness really is. It is rapid, occurring quickly. It is a transmission of energy, maximized by a straight path. And it is a shock wave transmitted into the ground to cause movement (GRF).
But the added benefit of explosion in athletic movement is the protection from injury.
Explosion, or lack thereof, Occurs to the Sides
A 2012 study out of Duquesne University found that explosion, or the time to peak force, is related to movement in the frontal plane. The frontal, or coronal, plane is shown to the right and divides the body into the front and back.
The authors found that the athletes who took longer to generate peak force are more likely to exhibit valgus patterns. This pattern is when the knees move inward upon LOADing or landing, which is a large risk for ACL injury.
The second area of leakage occurs in the lower back, the lumbar spine. You must brace to maintain a neutral spine, as any rounding (flexion) will negatively affect the transmission of power.
The Movement SignatureTM: Cave
Athletes with valgus patterns or excessive lumbar flexion exhibit the movement signatureTM shown to the right.
This movement signatureTM was formerly called Track referring to the inability to keep the knees and ankles in the same alignment. However this term was restrictive, describing the deficient LOADing pattern shown to the right by a low first peak. The real need is to increase the valley between the two peaks, to EXPLODE.
Deadlifts are the prescription for Cave, but the cues and awareness are really the key. Everyone can and has performed deadlifts, but what is your goal? More weight? While we certainly want you to lift heavier, the real prize is a better movement signatureTM.
So the emphasis remains on
good tracking of ankle/knee
maintenance of neutral spine
Higher performance by exploding should be no different than preventing or rehabilitating injuries, other than the intensity (the weight or speed of movement). So start plugging your leaks in the knees and back to EXPLODE.
Carcia CR, Kivlan BR, Scibek JS. Time to peak force is related to frontal plane landing kinematics in female athletes.Phys Ther Sport. 2012 May;13(2):73-9.