Looking to add more power to your workout? Adding the explosive moves of plyometrics could be just what you need:
Plyometrics used to be known as ‘jump training’. The movements are quick and explosive, and do indeed involve lots of jumping. The first to use plyometrics seriously were the Soviet bloc countries in the 1960s, and the term ‘plyometrics’ was coined in 1975 by an American named Fred Wilt.
A plyometric move consists of two actions. The first action is called ‘eccentric’ and lengthens the muscle used. The second action is ‘concentric’ and shortens the muscle.
These moves increase muscle strength and co-ordination. Improved speed in jumps, twists and turns pays dividends in both sport and everyday life.
Skipping : This can be started fairly gently, and as you get faster you will add some cardio effort too.
Burpees : the squat-kick-push up-jump will really work those muscles, and there are endless variations.
Plyo pushups: a standard pushup with a jump at the end, getting your hands off the ground.
Box jumps: with a sturdy box or step, start by jumping over it. Then move to an explosive jump from the box and upwards again from the floor.
To reduce the risk of injury, plyometric moves are for those with a good base level of fitness. This ensures that your joints are protected and that your muscles are up for these quick moves.
If you have any injuries or joint problems, give the plyometrics a miss until you are recovered.
Warming up is an absolute essential for the high muscle demands of plyometrics. You will need good trainers to help absorb the shock of landing. Also think about your workout surface – if you aren’t in a gym with a sprung floor, consider working out on grass or put down some mats.