Looking for something new to add to your fitness regimen? Get the jump on plyometric exercises.
Combining elements of cardio and strength training, plyometrics is a training method that’s used by a wide range of athletes. When a football player hurdles an onrushing player, that’s plyometrics. When a basketball star crushes the perfect jump shot, that’s plyometrics. When a skateboarder performs a jaw dropping 4-foot ollie, well… you get the idea! Find out more about plyometric exercises right here.
What is plyometric training?
Also known as “shock training,” “plyos,” or “jump training,” plyometrics are a quick and explosive type of high-impact exercise that’s aimed at teaching your muscles to produce maximum force as quickly as possible. For the most part, it involves different types of jumping. It’s intended to help you develop more explosive power and speed, which is why plyometric exercises have become de rigueur for professional athletes. Of course, anyone can benefit from plyometrics, not just athletes. Whether you’re a budding pro or just want to add something new to your fitness routine, getting into plyometric exercises is a great idea!
So, where did plyometrics come from in the first place? In their earliest form, they were created by Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky, a Soviet sports scientist, in the late 1960s. Subsequently, they were developed and given the label “plyometrics” by Dr. Michael Yessis and Fred Wilt, who published numerous books on the training method. The field has changed considerably since Verkhoshansky’s original work, but the germ of his idea lives on in the modern approach to plyometrics.
Are plyometric exercises effective?
The main benefit of plyometric exercise is the fact that it may help to improve strength, power, and speed, with research suggesting that it could be a good way of improving jumping and sprint performance in athletes. Studies have also shown that plyometric training can be an effective way of improving agility. In addition, plyometrics—as a form of cardio—may help you to improve your cardiovascular health and increase your heart rate, just like rowing or running.
Because they’re so intense, plyometric exercises can also be a fantastic addition to a weight-loss plan, helping you to burn calories and increase tone and muscle definition. According to Health.com, four plyometric sessions a week could see you shave two inches off your belly in just three to four weeks. If you’re after washboard abs, you’re going to want to add some plyometrics to your workouts.
But first, a word of warning before we get into the finer details of plyometric training. Plyometric exercises can be extremely taxing for your body, and they’re certainly not a form of exercise to jump into as a beginner. In addition, plyometrics sometimes gets a bad rap because it’s often associated with “over-use” injuries. The best way to make sure that this is a non-issue is by leaving a rest day between each plyometric session, while you should also check with a doctor before embarking on a new course of exercise.
If you’re interested in plyometrics, designing a training routine with a personal trainer is a great way of ensuring that you’re not doing anything too advanced for your fitness level. It’s also important to remember that jumping has an inherent level of risk, putting a considerable strain on your joints. For this reason, learning proper landing techniques is key. Basically, you need to land on the toes and roll to the heels, thereby dissipating the impact on your joints.
5 plyometric exercises to try
There are plenty of different plyometric exercises that you can incorporate into your fitness routine. Here are five popular training exercises to add to your workout.
- Front box jump. Aimed at strengthening your glutes and quadriceps, the front box jump workout is one of the most popular types of plyometric exercises. Jump up from the squat position to a box of any height that’s positioned in front of you, and as you get more adept at the exercise, start increasing the height of the box or add weight to make the exercise even more intense.
- Jump rope. This is one of the simpler plyometric exercises, making it great for beginners. Jump for about 60 seconds at a time and be sure to vary your workouts. There are lots of different variations to explore, including high step, alternate foot jump, and side-to-side.
- Lateral box jump. Very similar to the front box jump, the lateral box jump workout requires you to jump sideways onto a box. Why? Lateral jumps cause muscles to contract in a different way to front jumps, meaning that a lateral box jump workout gives you a slightly different type of workout.
- Squat jumps. Requiring a little more conditioning than jump rope, squat jumps require you to jump straight up from a regular squat position. After you land, you’ll lower your body back into the squat position to complete the rep.
- Lateral hopping drills. If you’ve ever seen soccer players train, you probably know what a lateral hopping drill looks like. Basically, you’ll stand on one leg and hop from side to side. It’s a great way of increasing strength and balance.
Jumping for joy at the prospect of plyometrics? Consider chatting with a personal trainer and think about some of the ways that you can incorporate plyometric exercises into your regular workout schedule.