The term explosive action in sport science and athletics is a real, highly sought-after result of training that could mean serious competitive gains for athletes.
In team sports, such as basketball or soccer, explosive action might refer to a variety of movements that include jumping, kicking, change of direction, acceleration and even deceleration. These are often studied as either single or repeated actions, and measurements might involve a combination of power, speed and endurance.
Coaches and trainers often turn to plyometric training for its well-established benefits to explosive speed, power and endurance. Seeking the right adaptations for their athletes, training might include a series of plyometric exercises – such as squat, peak, countermovement jumps, short sprints and shuttle runs – designed to mimic specific movements seen on the court or pitch.
Apart from plyometric training, dietary approaches are widely used by athletes to seek out adaptations that translate to explosiveness. While the research remains limited, some studies have offered promising findings, particularly when plyometric or sprint-type exercises are combined with targeted nutrition and supplementation regimens.
Buffering Up With Beta-Alanine
The demonstrated ergogenic effects of beta-alanine – an amino acid found mainly in chicken and beef – have made it a supplement worth studying.
Beta-alanine is thought to work by increasing the concentration of carnosine in both fast-twitch and short-twitch muscle fibres. A greater amount of carnosine in muscles could mean more of a buffer against acidity that can lead to fatigue.
In a recent randomised placebo-controlled study on 25 club-level female soccer players, plyometric training combined with beta-alanine supplementation led to a greater adaptive response for endurance and in repeated sprinting and jumping performances (1).
The researchers explained that beta-alanine’s benefits might be explained due its effects on ‘increasing buffering ability of muscles’ that ‘may have increased fatigue resistance during sets of jump training, allowing greater intensity during the latter part of plyometric training sessions’ (1).
Creatine Increases Muscle-Carb Carrying Capacity
Creatine’s often touted for acting itself as quick energy for explosive movements related to strength training for athletes. Less well-known is that creatine can also improve athletic performance through increasing muscle carbohydrate storage capacity.
Repeated fast, explosive movements that translate to speed and power in sports are highly reliant on carbohydrate stores in muscle or muscle glycogen. For this reason, nutritional strategies like carbohydrate or glycogen loading are employed. Creatine is thought to improve the efficiency of glycogen loading by attracting water into muscles, allowing for greater carbohydrate storage. A study in cyclists taking creatine (20 grams for five days plus 3 grams for nine days) demonstrated that the supplement increased stored glycogen in muscles by more than half and led to greater power during sprints and less time to fatigue (2).
Likewise, a study on female soccer players showed that creatine supplementation led to enhanced adaption in response to six weeks of plyometric training. Greater improvements in jump and repeated sprint performance as compared to those taking placebo were seen (3).
Caffeine on Countermovement Jumps
Caffeine is the most widely used ergogenic substance used by athletes, usually in the form of coffee or energy drinks. Its stimulant properties are owed to the interactions with adenosine receptors in the brain leading to greater alertness and energy levels (4).
When combined with plyometric training, caffeine also can lead to greater explosive action. For example, one study found that ingestion of 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight improved countermovement jump performance in elite male volleyball players (5).
Another study evaluated a caffeine-containing energy drink on both countermovement jump performance and team performance of female soccer players during a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (6). The energy drink, which provided a dose of caffeine equivalent to 3 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, led to increases in countermovement jump height, total running distance and a number of sprint bouts during a simulated game (6).
AMPED Nitro: Combining Beta-Alanine, Creatine, and Caffeine
AMPED™ Nitro contains the three ingredients in a convenient drink powder. The pre-workout drink also contains additional ingredients such as Nitrosigine® to support optimal plasma levels of arginine, which is a precursor for nitric oxide production and increases blood flow to the brain and muscles (7).
Based on the sports science literature, athletes could maximise adaptation from plyometric training with AMPED Nitro as a nutritional strategy that combines beta-alanine, creatine and caffeine in safe and effective dosages.
The statements appearing in this article have not been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, diabetic, on medication, have a medical condition or are beginning a weight loss program, consult your GP before using Isagenix products or making any other dietary changes. Discontinue use if adverse event occur.
- Rosas F, Ramírez-Campillo R, Martínez C, Caniuqueo A, Cañas-Jamet R, McCrudden E, Meylan C, Moran J, Nakamura FY, Pereira LA, et al. Effects of Plyometric Training and Beta-Alanine Supplementation on Maximal-Intensity Exercise and Endurance in Female Soccer Players. J Hum Kinet. 2017;58:99–109.
- Tomcik KA, Camera DM, Bone JL, Ross ML, Jeacocke NA, Tachtsis B, Senden J, van Loon LJC, Hawley JA, Burke LM. Effects of Creatine and Carbohydrate Loading on Cycling Time Trial Performance [Internet]. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2017. 1 p. Available from: http://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00005768-900000000-97135
- Ramírez-Campillo R, González-Jurado JA, Martínez C, Nakamura FY, Peñailillo L, Meylan CMP, Caniuqueo A, Cañas-Jamet R, Moran J, Alonso-Martínez AM, et al. Effects of plyometric training and creatine supplementation on maximal-intensity exercise and endurance in female soccer players. J Sci Med Sport. 2016;19:682–7.
- Burke LM, Desbrow B, Spriet LL. Caffeine for Sports Performance. Human Kinetics – HK. 2014. 216 p.
- Zbinden-Foncea H, Rada I, Gomez J, Kokaly M, Stellingwerff T, Deldicque L, Peñailillo L. Effects of caffeine on countermovement-jump performance variables in elite male volleyball players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2018;13:145–50.
- Lara B, Gonzalez-Millan C, Salinero JJ, Abian-Vicen J, Areces F, Barbero-Alvarez JC, Muñoz V, Portillo LJ, Gonzalez-Rave JM, Del Coso J. Caffeine-containing energy drink improves physical performance in female soccer players. Amino Acids. 2014;46:1385–92.
- Kalman D, Harvey PD, Ojalvo SP, Komorowski J. Randomized prospective double-blind studies to evaluate the cognitive effects of inositol-stabilized arginine silicate in healthy physically active adults. Nutrients. 2016;8.