By Ethan Boldt
“What’s the most important athletic trait in nearly every sport? The ability to explode.”
So says trainer Rob McClanaghan -- and he should know. He trains NBA 2011 MVP Derrick Rose as well as NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook -- both among the fittest athletes in any sport. McClanaghan goes on to explain that stamina, strength and general speed are all very important, but sheer explosiveness is often what separates the great players from the good ones.
There’s also a sweet side benefit to working on this trait. The explosive muscles are what make your physique look truly impressive -- and it works both ways, for you can only become explosive once your body becomes lean and muscular. The explosive muscles are essentially your type II muscle fibers (which give your body its shape), as opposed to the type I fibers (which are produced by endurance activities like running or cycling). Type II muscle fibers are the reason sprinters, wide receivers, volleyball players and basketball players all look so chiseled.
According to McClanaghan, basketball requires a lot of physique-enhancing (i.e., type II–developing) movements. “Going forward, laterally and backward, as well as jumping in different directions -- that’s basketball. And that’s why these guys are so fit: because their muscles are being developed from every angle, with explosive movements.” Don’t play basketball? Not to worry, says McClanaghan. “You can get all the same benefits in your own workout.”
12 Minutes to Explosive Takeoff
McClanaghan recommends doing the following 12-minute speed workout three or four times a week, after a warm-up but before your strength-training workout, or even before your standard cardio. Move from one exercise to the next, pausing only to catch your breath. The ideal place for this workout is a grass field or a basketball court, though it can be modified for a smaller place. Do each move for approximately 20-30 seconds.
Ethan Boldt writes for such magazines as Men’s Health, SELF and Maximum Fitness. A former certified personal trainer, Boldt co-authored 5-Factor Fitness with celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak and is currently working on a book project with Rob McClanaghan.
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