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Burn with Kearns: Explosive Power after 40, 50, 60-plus – Kevin Kearns




by Kevin Kearns, contributing writer on exercise and fitness

Explosive Power in most Sports is a must – and in life. In MMA it’s as natural as throwing a jab or muay thai kick. We have seen many an athlete and many a fighter be extremely explosive right out the gate. It reminds me of thoroughbred racing. You look at a horse and you just see how much stored energy is in their muscles.

So, what is explosiveness and what does it take to be explosive in the fight Game? Explosive energy is the ability to react quicker, faster and, in some instances, harder than your opponent. It can be a matter of micro-seconds or sometimes the last minute of a grueling championship fight. This energy system which is mostly “ATP”  and “CP”  in nature can be developed by anyone with the right training. The challenge is most people’s view of this type of training is confusing at best. They either “do what their last martial arts instructor taught them” or “run to the nearest cross fit gym”.  Unfortunately, this can lead to high level of injury which will not lead to improve performance.

Plyometrics steps up to the plate. Plyometrics, also known as “jump training” or “plyos”, are exercises based around having muscles exert maximum force in as short a time as possible, with the goal of increasing both speed and power. This training focuses on learning to move from a muscle extension to a contraction in a rapid or “explosive” way, for example with specialized repeated jumping. Plyometrics are primarily used by athletes, especially martial artists and high jumpers, to improve performance, and are used in the fitness field to a much lesser degree. (Wikipedia).

This seems like a great way to train the body. It was developed in the 1980’s by an Olympic Track and Field coach that was observing how the Russians warmed up. It is a necessary training cycle for most athletes. The challenge however is on the following:

  1. Cycling of the activity (appropriate timing in a training camp is necessary)
  2. Base strength level
  3. Proper coaching
  4. Age (not recommended for prepubescent athletes )
  5. Flexibility

And above all the following:

Proprioception is an important component of balance, coordination and agility, which are also required for safe performance of plyometric exercises. If an athlete does not have a good sense of his or her body awareness injuries can occur rapidly.

The last component we will talk about which most coaches overlooked was and is surface. I have worked with many an athlete on plyometrics. The minute you have them perform their exercises on a soft surface (fitness trampoline, gymnastics pad, or even the beach!) their bodies feel less beaten up! Now, don’t know about you, but the more your athlete recovers from their workout the better they perform. I and my team cringe when I see trainers having people perform box jumps or jump squats on concrete. Are we training to make their spines explode vs explosive power in their muscles .

Okay enough with the science, Coach, let’s train!

Here is a version of a program we have used successful for many a fighter (Kenny Florian, Nate Quarry, Kurt Pellingrino, Marcus Davis, Daniel Gracie, etc.)

The exercises will be performed in a circuit for 20 to 30 seconds or 6 to 10 reps for 3 to 4 circuits.

Exercise 1 Box Jumps on a Jumps Sport  fitness trampoline . If you have ever performed box jumps up to a box, the next day you just feel beaten up. On a fitness trampoline like Jump Sports you work with gravity versus against it. Alternatively, sand or a bosu work well.

  1. Stand in front of the fitness trampoline
  2. in one quick motion jump onto the trampoline and control your landing

Exercise 2  Sandbag, Kettle Bell, or Dumbbell Snatches. A full body explosive exercise there is not a muscle you do not work.

  1. squat down and grab the kettle bell. make sure your knees are bent and your hips drop back
  2. with one quick motion pull the equipment from the floor to and overhead position

Exercise 3 Jump to sprawl on Bosu – This is a great way to kick the heart rate up and work both a functional move for mma with an added twist.

  1. stand with your feet apart over the Bosu
  2. next jump onto the Bosu with both feet
  3. jump off the Bosu and place your hands on the Bosu as you drop into a sprawl

Exercise 4 Explosive inverted rows with rings, TRX or Purmotion Air fit. This can be a real beast and it’s great for the upper back for explosive power.

  1. grab the handles of your equipment and lean back in an inverted row position
  2. now grab some air! explode up as you let go of the handles for a brief moment and grab them on the negative portion of the exercise

Exercise 5  we call this exercise “Cops” after the TV show. It requires a “Surge” or at least a sandbag. It’s a great full body workout and targets the core.

  1. grab your equipment and an athletic ready position
  2. next quickly step sideways as you launch the equipment in the direction you just step. It’s as if you are throwing the equipment sideways but you never let it go.

Exercise 6 Power Blockers – I developed this exercise with the “Surge” for an American Footballer. It’s absolute torture on the upper body and cardio. It can also be performed with a sandbag or beer keg.

  1. Grab your equipment and hold it a shoulder level
  2. next take a kick step forward and launch the equipment off your chest without letting it go

Exercise 7  MMA, another sport that requires a lot of balance. We love one legged hops at Burn With Kearns for our athletes.

  1. Stand on a Jump Sport Fitness Trampoline or in the sand on one leg.
  2. next jump up on one leg as you drive your knee to your chest . then switch feet and train your other leg.

Exercise 8  Medicine ball across toss. An excellent exercise for rotational mechanics in the core and legs

  1. stand sideways towards a wall with a med ball in your hand.
  2. as you turn towards the wall let the ball go so it bounces off the wall
  3. repeat on the other side.

There’s your explosive power program to up your fight Game.

Enjoy! Coach Kearns

Coach Kearns


Coach Kearns – Direct: 508 404 8503

Both of Coach Kearns’ books may be purchased on For more information about Coach Kevin Kearns, including scheduling speaking engagements and classes (both online and in person), please contact him at 508-404-8503 or [email protected].

Author of “There’s Light In The Tunnel” How to Survive and Thrive with Depression  – “Always Picked Last“ A guide to navigating bullies on Amazon and Audible

Coach Kevin Kearns has been coaching in the world of fitness, nutrition, and tactical self defense for over 3 decades. As the former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pro Fighters, and ranked in the Top 5 in the UFC , he is no stranger to the the importance of proper nutrition and proper mindset programming. He has long advocated to all his clients – athletes or the general population – about the importance of programming mind, body and spirit. 

Coach Kevin Kearns BS FMS CPT – Former conditioning coach to 15 UFC Pros Ranked in Top 5 by the UFC Personal Fitness Coach, Author, Columnist, Motivational Speaker, Corporate Wellness Consultant, Youth Wellness Program Provider, Certification Specialist, Personal Self Defense, and Law Enforcement Defensive Tactics Specialist

Stay strong, confident, and safe!

Coach Kevin Kearns, BS FMS  CPT – Direct: 508 404 8503