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Build Explosive Strength

Gain real power with our newest mixed martial arts workout

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In mixed martial arts, explosiveness can mean the difference between delivering a knockout blow or merely making your opponent madder. Harnessing the ability to apply your strength quickly will lead to rapid muscle gains and a leaner physique.

These workouts give new meaning to the expression "get your hips into it." Most of your body's power comes from your hips, and along with your core, they're the epicenter of a fighter's punching, kicking, and grappling arsenal. Moves like the dumbbell snatch, cable suplex, and push press teach you to extend your hips forcefully, increasing your ability to coordinate muscle actions fast.

These are the kinds of exercises that fighters train with, as well as wrestlers and football players—anyone who needs to move like a cheetah and hit like a bull. In addition, lifting weights with maximum velocity burns calories, and forces the central nervous system to recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers. One look at the bodies of the kind of power athletes mentioned above, and you know that explosive training yields aesthetic results too.

Directions

Frequency: Perform each workout listed below (I, II, and III) once a week, resting at least a day between each session.

How to Do It: Perform the exercises as straight sets, completing all the recommended sets for one exercise before moving on to the next.

Exercises that say to work up to a certain repetition maximum (RM) mean to gradually warm up to the heaviest weight that allows you to complete all the prescribed reps with perfect form. For example, if you planned to perform a box squat for a 3RM with 315 pounds, you could do it like this: Complete 10 reps with just the bar, then place a 25-pound plate on each side (95 pounds total) and perform three reps. Then do one rep with 155 pounds, 195, and 265, respectively.

Then load 315—you should be able to complete only three reps giving your best effort. Conservatively estimate how much weight your RM will be in an exercise and determine the warm-up weights you use accordingly. Keep your reps low and rest as needed between warm-up sets—these warm-ups should not be fatiguing. Once you've arrived at the correct weight for your RM, perform two to four sets with it.

Exercises that call for 30 or 40 reps should be done as follows: Do as many reps as you can at a time with good form, and then rest. Repeat until you complete all the prescribed reps. It's OK if you get 10 reps on your first set and then only one or two reps at a time for most of your remaining sets. You will improve over time. Each week, complete 10 more reps than you did the week before. So in your second week on this program, you'll work until you've done 40 or 50 reps (as prescribed), and so forth.

When a rep range is given, such as 8-12, choose a weight that allows you to get the higher number of reps on the first set and then increase the weight on the following sets, thereby forcing you to move toward the lower end of the rep range. So, for example, by the third set, you would be using a weight that cuts you off at eight reps.

Weight: Unless otherwise noted, use the heaviest weight that allows you to complete all the prescribed reps for a given set.

The Workouts:

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