15 leg exercises for ultimate explosive power

We can all do with a bit of extra peddle power so here are our 15 top picks for explosive leg strength.

Explosive leg workoutsExplosive leg workouts. Here are our best.

Whether you’re a runner, swimmer, cyclist or crazy enough to do all three: you’ve probably come to the realisation that your legs are kind of vital. Explosive power is great for all three disciplines whether that’s being explosive out the blocks, more peddle power uphill or propel yourself through the water.  Here are 15 explosive leg exercises to add to your workouts.

15 leg exercises for explosive power

It couldn’t not be in a leg workout recommendations article. We already discussed how to squat. To work on your power in a squat it’s great to start from the rack. Before you start, think about the lowest point of your movement and place the supporting irons there. Put the weight on and get into position, this should mean when you stand under the bar your already in the low point of your position. From there explode up and slowly lower the weight back to the bar.


Looks dead impressive in the gym. Generally, there are foam blocks for you to jump onto. Stand shoulder width apart, bend your knees and jump on top of the box. Slowly add more foam slabs to make this exercise harder.

Explosive leg power
Box jump.

This is great on a smith machine and step block. Position the back of the block under the bar. Place the bar across your shoulders and stand with your heels off the edge of the block. Get your heels as close to the ground as you can. Explode up, using the smith machine sometimes helps me with my balance so a little lean forward can sometimes make this more comfortable to perform.


Stand upright, feet shoulder-width apart. Drop into a press up as quickly as possible. From there, keeping your hands where they are, bring your knees into your chest place your feet just under your arms. Plant your feet and fire yourself up into the air trying to jump as high as possible. Upon landing, drop back into the press up position and go again.


For this, you want to get down into the press up position. All your doing here is keeping your arms stiff and extended bringing one knee at a time up towards your chest and back down.


The love child of a squat and burpee, I give you the jump squat. Stand feet shoulder width apart, lower yourself into a squat and then from your lowest position straighten your knees and snap into a jump. You want this to be rhythmic. When you land, immediately drop back into a squat and go again.


Great for balance and strength. Stand on one leg. Bend your knee using your other leg, not in contact with the ground, to help you keep your balance. Go as low as you can go then push and return to a normal upright position. Some people like to alternate legs but for me, I’d do all the reps on one at once and then change it up.

Explosive leg power
Pistol squats.

We love compounds. To get the best benefit of this for your legs, lift heavy. Weight your bar and stand feet shoulder-width apart. When you look down at your feet, you’ll know you’re about the right distance away from the bar when it’s going over your laces. Grip varies from person to person to find what’s comfortable. You want to stick your bum out a little like we spoke about in squats. Look forward to maintain a good posture and push with your legs to get the bar off the floor. Once it passes your knees you want to get your back into it more. Begin to pull your back into a straight and upright position with your shoulders back.


Fairly self-explanatory. Grab a couple of dumb bells, hold them by your side and lunge until your knee almost, but doesn’t, hit the floor.


Machines can slightly vary in angles so follow the instructions of yours or that of your personal trainers. With your hands either side of your seat, slowly lower the weight so your knee creates a ninety-degree angle then explosively press back to a straight leg.


Neigh on the same as leg press but guess what.  You’ve got it. With one.


There’s no discrete way of doing this.

You’ll need a bench for this one. Position your body perpendicular to the bench and sit on the edge. Sit on the floor leaning against the bench. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Using either a weighted plate or curling bar, place it across your hips and thrust up until your body is flat from your chest to your knees.


Perform a usual lunge. Once your knee is at it’s lowest point, transfer your weight to your front foot as if your going to take a big step forward. Swing your back leg up and raise your knee up to your chest. Let your leg fall back into the original lunge position. Then take a big step forward to do another.


The ultimate test of explosive leg strength. From a standing position, simply jump as far forward as you can. Make sure you land on your feet. Tumbles don’t count.


Start in a low squat position. Knee at a time put your knees on the floor. From here explode from the hip to get back on your feet. Land in a stable squat position with your knees bent and arms out in front of you.

Joe Tucker
the authorJoe Tucker
Joe is an aspiring fitness journalist looking to get his foot in the industry at A fair-weather runner and sparring sissy who occasionally enjoys rolling down hills ... on two wheels that is. Any story ideas? Feel free to DM him with any ideas.

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