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Debate: The Best Exercises For Athletes.

Researchers have concluded that the explosive-strength and endurance training combination improved race time in well-trained endurance athletes due to improved neuromuscular characteristics. Learn why here.

What one training method is best for athletic development?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. After all, components of athleticism include trunk and torso strength, balance, power, sport-specific conditioning, agility, movements patterns, absolute and relative strength, endurance, skill, etc. Each of these details has a different role in determining success in various activities.

The big question is "which training exercises or techniques are most beneficial?"

You would definitely get a wide range of answers from various strength and conditioning experts, and their response would likely depend on the expert's role in athlete development. For example, many physiotherapists would agree that core strength and flexibility are training priorities.

Strength and conditioning coaches may emphasize compound weight lifting exercises and traditional conditioning methods. Chiropractors would address lower back strength (and core strength), proper spinal alignment and correct biomechanical movements. And finally, the head coach would insist on sport-specific skill training.


In preparing athletes for strength and power sports, CB Athletic Consulting believes the one technique that must be incorporated is PLYOMETRICS. But why are PLYOMETRICS the best training technique for athletes?

Most importantly, plyometric training should help to develop strength, power, balance, agility and kinesthetic awareness all at the same time. There really isn't any other training technique that addresses so many levels of athletic performance.

However, feel free to disagree on this conclusion/hypothesis. It is merely an opinion and no programs or specific methods have truly been clearly proven superior in a research setting.

Remember that these are the best exercises only when performed under supervision and with the correct technique as taught by a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). If you are unsure of proper technique or how to incorporate Plyometric exercises into your program with respect to volume and frequency, do NOT perform Plyometric training. This advanced tool is only recommended for properly coached athletes.


What about endurance athletes, can they benefit from explosive training techniques such as Plyometrics? They certainly can. By incorporating Plyometrics into their training regimen, endurance athletes may be able to increase muscle strength without the added hypertrophy that is associated with resistance training.

Plyometric training emphasizes neuromuscular coordination and therefore the improvements in force production may result without a simultaneous increase in muscle size (cross-sectional area).

According to Finnish research, explosive training may help improve performance in distance running (Paavolainen et al., 1999). In this study, 2 groups of endurance athletes followed a 9-week training program, with one group incorporating explosive-type training. The explosive training group achieved significant increases in 5-km race time but the endurance training only group did not.

Furthermore, maximal sprint speed (20 meters) and jump performance increased in the explosive training group and actually decreased in the endurance only group. The only variable that did not improve in the explosive training group was VO2 max (aerobic power).


The researchers concluded that the explosive-strength and endurance training combination improved race time in well-trained endurance athletes due to improved neuromuscular characteristics.

Paavolainen, L., et al. Explosive-strength training improves 5-km running time by improving running economy and muscle power. J.Appl. Physiol. 86: 1527-1533, 1999.



    • View all our Plyometric's articles HERE!


    • Resistance Exercise followed by a simple Plyometric Exercise
    • Ex: Squat followed by Vertical Jump


    • Hang Clean plus Front Squat
    • Ex: Clean the weight to the shoulders & then perform a Front Squat. This counts as 1 repetition.

OLYMPIC LIFTS (see ISSUES # 29 & 30)


    • View all our Speed articles HERE!



Craig Ballantyne (CB Athletic Consulting)