Plyometric exercises have a goal of increasing your power. They involve big bursts of force for short periods of time. This type of training is pretty intense. It’s well known for its explosive and energetic nature. It’s sometimes called ‘shock training’. Enough said.
Because of that, lots of people loathe it. Plyometrics are the types of exercises you might associate with finishers. You know, those exercises your fitness instructor adds onto the end of your session that almost kill you. They take up every remaining bit of energy.
But there are some pretty compelling reasons to include plyometrics in your fitness routine. It’s not just about getting super sweaty.
If you tend to avoid them, here’s why you might want to think about braving plyometrics a little more.
What is plyometric training?
It’s sometimes called jump training, which gives you a clear idea of what it involves. Characterised by lots of bouncing and jumping movements, plyometric training is made up of explosive actions that lengthen and shorten the muscles.
Plyometric exercises are often bodyweight exercises. Exerting maximum force and extending and contracting the muscles in rapid succession is the goal of plyometrics. The intensity comes from this.
It’s used by some sportspeople to help improve their performance. Sprinters, basketballers, and other athletes use plyometric training to support their activity. The speed at which you can change direction is critical in some sports, and plyometrics are used to develop it.
The best example of a plyometric exercise is the squat jump. The rapid movement that includes shock absorption, muscle contraction, and lengthening all in one swift action makes it a key plyometric exercise many people do.
What are the benefits of plyometric training
Power is the amount of force you can exert in a single movement. Plyometric training is a type of power exercise.
These non-weightlifting, multi-joint movements ask your body for fast and forceful output. With practice, you’ll be able to produce movements with a higher power.
Helps you use energy better
When plyometric training, your body uses different energy systems. Plyometrics develop the system that gives you short, sharp, and intense bursts of energy.
The more you train, the better your body will store and use the energy you need to complete your exercises. The result? You feel much fitter.
Improves coordination and agility
There are neural changes that occur as a result of plyometric training. Your brain gets a little better at sending the right signals to your muscles to help with coordination, changing direction, speed, and agility.
That’s why plyometrics are often sport-specific.
Increases bone density and muscle mass
Plyometrics are great for improving the condition of both your bones and your muscles.
These exercises increase bone density and protect them from fracture. They also increase the number of different muscle fibres you have, including ones that improve your muscular endurance and muscular strength.
What are the risks of plyometric training?
As with anything explosive, the risk of injury is heightened without executing the exercises correctly. Form is king when it comes to plyometric training, so making sure you’re in the correct position is crucial even when you tire.
High impact exercises place a lot of stress on the joints, meaning that although they help reduce the risk of fracture in the long term, they can put unconditioned individuals at risk of injury in the short-term.
If you’re a beginner, take it slow. Practice just a few at first. Start with a shorter number of reps and build on the basics as you get more confident with the movements.
Should you include plyometric training in your fitness routine?
If you’re ready to step up your training, plyometrics might be the next challenge for you.
It’s demanding in many different ways and can be easily added to the end of a session or incorporated into it to increase your workout intensity.
Without the availability of heavy weights or gym machines, plyometrics might be the answer for fitness progress from home.
However, if you’re new to fitness, there are other areas to start with. Improving your muscular endurance with key exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and overhead presses might be more useful. Focus on your aerobic fitness with jogging, swimming, or cycling too. When you’re ready, you can move on to plyometrics if you fancy it.
The best plyometric exercises to start with
As the name suggests, this is a squat with a jump at the end.
With your feet hip-width apart, bend at the hips and the knees and lower down into a squat. Sit back as if into a chair, pushing through your heels. When you drive back up to a stand, jump up into the air in one movement. Land and repeat.
You’ll need a raised surface for this one. The higher that surface is, the harder.
Stand in front of a low box or bench, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees so you’re in a shallow squat. Use your arms to propel you and leap onto the box.
Lunges. But you jump when you switch leg.
Start with your right foot forward, lower both knees to a 90-degree angle. Push into a jump and switch the legs over, so you are lunging with the opposite leg.
The exercise everyone loves to hate. Or just hates.
From a standing position, put your hands on the ground by your feet. Then, jump your feet back into a plank position. Do one press-up before jumping your feet back towards your hands. Stand up and jump up into the air shooting your hands up above your head. Repeat.
Plyo Push Up
Plyo push ups for those with more experience in plyometric exercises. You can do these on your knees if you find the full press-up position too tricky.
From a press-up stance, drop down and push up powerfully and clap your hands before you land again.
Plyometric exercises aren’t for everyone. But for some, they’re a great way to add some explosiveness into your workout. You’ll get your heart racing at the same time. For these examples, try 2-3 sets of 12 reps. Rest for about 60-90 seconds between each set.
You’ll soon start feeling the benefits of these explosive exercises.