The term plyometrics simply refers to jumping exercises which are intended to push body muscles to the furthest limit. It is characterised by short intervals of high-intensity work-outs which result in increased strength and power.
Plyometrics training provides a good opportunity for sprinters and other athletes to improve their performance. In this plyometrics for beginners guide, you’ll learn the basics of plyometrics training including its benefits, plyometrics techniques and safety considerations.
Also Read: Best Shoes for plyometrics
What is Plyometrics?
Simply put, plyometrics refers the various forms of jumping exercises. They come in different techniques and will also incorporate skipping and hopping. Such workouts are intended to push your muscles to extremity so as to build the power and strength for high intensity workouts.
Plyometric training dates back to 1950s when it was introduced to Russian athletes. Initially named as the shock method or jump training, plyometrics lead to Russia’s outstanding performance in the 1960s and 1970s Olympic games.
The effectiveness of plyometrics in athletics performance led to its adoption in other parts of the world. America was the first to embrace this type of training, where Fred Wilt (Olympic runner) coined the word plyometrics.
Since then, plyometrics have become important exercises for enhancing performance in various sports. Although it’s commonly used in athletics, it’s also employed in other sports including volleyball, basketball, squash, and tennis.
Benefits of Plyometrics
Plyometrics are used to achieve the highest level of fitness for athletes and other fitness aficionados. Owing to the intense engagement of the entire body, plyometrics are intended to improve your performance while enhancing your resilience to injuries.
Below are some of the benefits of plyometrics training.
1. It’s a Power Training Exercise
The speed and force involved in plyometrics training results increased power which in turn enhances your performance in athletics and other sports. Backed by other supplementary exercises, plyometrics contribute to powerful performance especially in sprinters who need speed in their races.
2. Muscle Strengthening
At the core of plyometrics training is the need to develop strong muscles which help you in generating sufficient power and strength. Due to the repeated stretching and shortening, the muscles end up becoming larger and stronger.
Some of the muscles that greatly benefit from plyometrics training include the core musculature, thighs, glutes and the hamstrings.
3. Tendon Strengthening
Tendons play a very crucial in the musculoskeletal system where they aid in transmitting muscle movements to the bones. Similar to muscles, plyometrics exercises result in repeated tendon stretching and shortening which makes them stronger.
The tendons also become more flexible and resilient thus minimizing the risk of injuries during strenuous undertakings.
4. Enhances Stability and Coordination
Plyometrics training engages a great deal of the core musculature. Studies indicate that a stronger core is key to your overall stability and coordination. By building a stronger and stable core, you’re are able move your hips, knees and ankles more effectively.
5. Stimulates Bone Growth
Also known as jumping exercises, plyometrics provide an effective means of promoting bone growth. This results from the landing impacts and the slight bending experienced by your bones during plyometrics.
Jumping exercises also contribute to healthier joints.
6. Burns Calories
Like other work-outs, plyometrics are responsible for burning body calories which reduces narrowing or blocking of blood vessels. This helps in reducing cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and high blood pressure.
Box jumps are geared towards building a stronger lower body. They target the glutes, hamstrings, calves and the quads. This result in explosive strength which allows you to run faster and maintain a healthy body.
Box jumps are performed using boxes to provide a jumping height. Normally, the recommended height of the box is 18 inches. However, you can use boxes of different heights.
Read: Best Shoes for Box Jumps
As the name suggests, these jumps are performed while squatting. They are more explosive than regular jumps and intended to strengthen both the lower body and upper body appendages.
In power skipping, you follow a similar technique to regular skipping. The only difference is that it is aimed producing greater explosion. Unlike regular skipping, you’re are supposed to raise your knees to a maximum height while swinging your hands as much as possible.
This results in explosive moves which target your glutes, hamstrings, abs, hip flexors, quadriceps and calves.
Plyometric Push-up is an explosive version of normal push-up which incorporates periods of styled jumps in the process of doing push-ups. A common style is to clamp your hands mid-air during the push-up.
They provide a perfect challenge for developing stronger shoulders, abs, triceps and chest.
Standing Long Jump
Typical with athletic training, standing long jump strengthens the lower body so as to improve your acceleration and balance.
Plyometrics Safety Considerations
Your safety always comes first during any training or competition because it allows you to proceed with comfort and less risk of injuries. And with the explosiveness involved in plyometrics work-outs, there’s need for heightened safety.
Here’re are some important considerations to enhance your safety during plyometrics training.
Get Medical Clearance
If you’re new to plyometrics training, then you need to approach it with caution to ensure your safety. First, it’s important to get a medical clearance regarding your form to confirm whether you’re fit for these workouts.
Factors that may hold you back from plyometrics include existing medical condition, previous injuries and being elderly. Talking to your doctor about your past health and physical conditions allows them to ascertain whether you’re fit for plyometrics.
Talk to a Professional Trainer
While you can use plyometrics work-outs manuals, it’s recommended to first learn the techniques from an exercise professional. They’re in a good position to guide you on how to perform various plyometrics moves effectively and safely.
With an exercise professional, you also benefit from a guided personal training plan which results in optimal fitness accomplishments.
Do Not Overdo It
When doing plyometrics, your tendons, muscles and ligaments are exposed to repeated stretching and shorting. So, overdoing these exercises could result in injuries. Doing fewer and quality plyometrics is better than more that may result to fatigue or injuries.
Other than getting a medical clearance, it’s recommended to start plyometrics training when your body is in good form. A good way to do this is to begin with low-intensity workouts to build your strength and resilience gradually.
Such exercises are meant to prepare your muscles, joints, bones and the connective tissues for more explosive workouts. This ensures that you don’t suffer unnecessary fatigue or injuries.
Plyometrics provides an excellent way of building the necessary power and strength for enhancing performance in athletics and other sports. However, considering the intensity and explosiveness involved during plyometrics, they should be performed only when your body is in good form to avoid injuries.
Working with a professional trainer is a good way to start plyometrics training. A professional trainer is able to give you a guided personal training plan which results in optimal fitness accomplishments.