Beginners Guide To Plyometrics
Have you tried many different training routines but still haven’t found one that works for you? Or, better yet, one that pushes you to your limits?
It seems like everyone is trying to get in shape these days. There are thousands of different exercises and programs out there that claim to give you a beach ready body with very little effort. These programs, however, don't usually deliver. If you want the results, you have to be willing to do the work.
Plyometrics are easily incorporated into common workouts and can be used by people of all skill sets. If you are are a fan of high intensity workouts and are willing to push hard to get the best results possible for your health and for your body, plyometrics may be just what you're looking for.
So… What are Plyometrics?
Plyometrics are a type of exercise that uses maximum power to strengthen muscles by performing quick and explosive bursts of movement for short intervals. It involves many different types of jumping and requires various muscle groups to work together at once.
Can you jump?
Do you crave movement in your routine?
Then this program may be good for you, as it keeps you active and targets specific body movements. These movements make muscles load and contract in very rapid sequences. It is a high intensity workout that uses much more energy than most typical workout sessions.
The History of Plyometrics
The term plyometrics was introduced in the 1980s, but the concept dates back to the 1960s. It was a Russian scientist who figured out that one method involving depth jumps, called the shock method, would bring about forced stretching and contracting of muscles. He found that doing these jumps repeatedly would improve an athlete's performance.
This method was put to use by Russian athletes, giving them an edge over their competition for years.
A second method refers to using any form of jumping as exercise, and is used much more widely through the United States today. The intensity of execution is much lower than that of the original shock method. It is referred to as “jump training” and is used mostly by athletes and martial artists, but there are various levels of plyometrics that can be used by everyone.
Plyometric training can enhance the amount of force the body can produce, leading to better sports performance. It has been shown to be effective in decreasing chances of injury, and to build explosiveness in an athlete, leading to greater power development. It has proven to be an effective training method for sprinters and runners, as well as many other athletes, allowing them to throw farther, jump higher, and run faster.
How Can Plyometric Training Help You?
If more power and enhanced performance sound appealing, look to plyometrics.
How about burning calories at a higher rate or intensify your endurance levels?
Or maybe just a great workout without the need to buy pricey equipment?
Plyometrics again can be included in your workout regime in order to provide you with astounding results.
There are many proven benefits to jump training. It's good for the body, good for athletic performance, even good for the wallet. Below, we will go over a few of the ways doing plyometric movements, also known as plyos, can be beneficial.
Benefit to Muscles
By immediately following an eccentric contraction (muscle lengthening) with a concentric contraction (muscle shortening), your muscle creates greater force. This is a way of simply saying moving a muscle very rapidly, pulling it in for strength and releasing for speed. This process is the core of plyometric movements and improves muscle power.
Because the body’s can adapt raw power into speed, people tend to focus on strength training a lot. For improved power, the actual strength of the fibers within the muscles must be addressed. These fibers, also known as fast-twitch fibers, responsible for the power to strength to speed conversion.
If you want swifter muscle contractions, you have to enhance the stamina of the fibers. Plyometric movements can boost muscle fibers, resulting in greater
output and improved performance.
Benefit to The Nervous System
The central nervous system can be benefitted by strength training as well.
For example, whenever a muscle contracts, a signal is sent from thought to action – from the brain to the muscles. This signal is sent through the neuromuscular system. The more efficiently it can transmit the signal, the faster your muscles can relax and contract.
Benefit To Tendons
Strong tendons can be the difference between getting a sports related injury or not. It is one of the reasons that we focus on stretching, so that the tendons are supple when we do movements with them.
While stretching is a good way to prevent injury, increasing the strength of the tendons is also important. Plyometrics help increasing the strength and the mobility of the tendons.
Jump and skip like a child while having fun with your workout.
Does that sound more appealing than doing the same 100 sit-ups that you did yesterday? All plyometric exercises are rooted in jumping. But that doesn’t mean there are limited amount of exercises to choose from.
Since the movements of plyometrics can be difficult it is important to practice safety precautions and be familiar with the exercises in order to protect your body from injury.
Let’s take a look at how to get started and what is involved. Soon, you’ll be well on your way to incorporating effective yet safe techniques into your workout routine.
Be Safe with Plyometrics
These types of movements put excess stress on both, the tendons and the joints of the body. If it has been awhile since you were in an established workout routine, it is recommended that you hold off on plyometrics until you have built up strength and flexibility. Of course, you can incorporate it slowly, but it is best to ensure that you can do basic exercises well first, before including plyometrics into your exercise routine.
Building up your physical strength and health through routine stretching, cardio workouts, and weight training.
When first beginning, take it easy.
Make sure to include a warm warm up that includes stretching. Additionally, exercise warm ups such as walking can be one of the easiest things that you can do to protect your muscles.
Once you begin implementing the plyometric movements, make sure to do so slowly. Allow for for time to breathe and rest between workouts in order to give your body time to recuperate.
Always remember that also need time to rest in between workout days. For this reason, it is suggested to include plyometrics only a few times a week in your routine.
Ready, Set, Rest – Practice Plyometrics for Beginners
Here are some good moves for beginners.
To get started you will want to include:
- 3 Sets
- 10 Reps
- 1 minute resting time in between exercises
Once you are done with the full set of three, give yourself a few minutes to recoup before moving on to the next exercise.
Alternate Leg Bounding
You’ve seen people bounding. They take long strides and lift their legs higher. It sort of looks like running – with a dramatic purpose.
It may look a little silly, but it works.
To begin, you’ll push off with your dominant leg and pull forward you other knee, as high as you can while keeping it up for as long as you can.
Ultimately, you’re trying to stay in the air, as much as you can. Alternate between legs, pulling the other leg up high and pushing off with the opposite leg to keep continuing motion moving forward.
Stand in front of a sturdy platform of some sort, a park bench or table works. You could also use a box, but for safety reasons, be sure that there is enough weight. You don’t want it to topple over you! Also, be sure that you have at least 18” of height. This gives you enough clearance to jump safely.
Jump onto and off of the platform, landing with your feet firmly planted.
Repeat the process for the number of desired sets.
As you get stronger and the jumps become easier, increase the height of whatever you’re using.
You want to jump side to side, with an obstacle between jumps. Many people use a rope, the balance stand at a park fitness center, or even a pair of shoes. You want to give your mind the focus to perform a powerful sideways jump but quickly.
Stand next to your object and jump over it, going right and left.
The goal is to jump as swiftly as you can in order to make the muscles react quickly.
If you can do a normal pushup, now is the time to kick your routine up a notch.
To do a plyometric pushup, get started with positioning yourself to do a standard version. When you push down and then back up, the goal is to do this with enough force to propel your body up and your hands off the ground.
Sort of a pushup with a hop in between.
If you want to show off a little or add an extra oomph to your workout, try clapping in between sets.
You can do this movement standing as well, if you do not have the ability to perform an actual pushup.
You can also adapt this to a platform such as a couch or bed, something sturdy that will hold you up while you have much of your body weight against it.
If you were like most of us, you loved to skip as a kid.
Well, now you’re going to do it again as an adult… but with more power this time.
Start skipping, but as you do, jump and lift your knees as high as you can in order to get the most out of the movement.
This is another one that can easily be adapted to multiple skill levels. The higher you lift your knees and the swifter your movements are, the more of a workout it will be.
If you can do a standard squat, you can do a squat jump.
Squat as you normally would with legs bent and back straight, however when you come up, jump as high as you can. Upon landing, go straight into a squat and immediately jump up again.
This one sort of looks like a squat in mid-air, if you’re doing it right.
First stand with your body square, that is, with your feet and shoulders the same width from each other.
Jump as high as you can with as much force as possible, and tuck as you jump into the air, trying to bring your knees as close as you can to your chest.
On the way down, open your form so that you can be straight again and land as softly as you can on the balls of your feet.
Repeat the jumps 10 times and then complete your three sets.
Vertical Depth Jump
This is sort of like a double jump. To begin, stand on top of a secure platform such as a weighted box or aerobic step. You will hop off of the platform and then, landing with both feet firm, then jump up quickly as soon as you land.
You are not hopping off and on the platform. Rather, you will step back up once your second jump is completed and you will then repeat the process.
Plyometrics With a Partner
If you prefer to workout with a partner, there are also a number of exercises that you can do in tandem with another person. You can use your partner as a counterbalance or incorporate tools, such as medicine balls, to work together so that you both are powering through plyometrics, increasing your performance and strengthening your bodies.
With the following exercises, you would do them the same as you would doing them solo. You will still aim for the same three sets, doing 10 reps each. Usually, when alternating between people you will have some down time, but remember to give your body a break in between intervals.
Additionally, you can alter some of the solo movements too. For example, it could be good to have a partner to make sure that your platform is secure while you do your movements. You can then switch between each other, offering support during your plyometrics workout.
Medicine Ball Throw
One of the most common partner plyometrics is known as the medicine ball throw.
To do this exercise, first you will need a medicine ball. If you don’t have one, you can use a weighted object as well but be sure that you are considering safety first.
Face your partner and hold the medicine ball between your hands at chest level. You will throw it straight back and forth as if passing a basketball between the two of you.
For an added boost, if you start facing each other but then squat, twirl and lift the ball over your head and release to your partner, you will have added motion to the movement and work additional muscles as well.
We All Want to Have Fun
Can’t we all just play like kids again?
Running, jumping, and hopping around seems to really have some benefits for our bodies. Children don’t know that they are working their muscles, they are just having fun. What if we could do that too? Can’t we have a little fun with our workout routines instead of just going through the motions time after time? If you want to add some variety to your sessions, or are looking for way to boost your performance while enjoying what you do, try plyometrics.
Not only do your muscles benefit from these exercises, but your mind can as well. Let’s face it, many of us use exercise to relieve the stress of our daily lives. We like to clear our minds and not think about the pile of dirty dishes waiting for us at home. Having fun and enjoying the workout will give you a reason to keep going, even when it gets hard, and work on becoming the best possible you.