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No matter how much of a squat or lunge expert you consider yourself to be, the moment the word “jump” becomes associated with those exercise names — and a typical workout now has a plyometric flare — you might feel overwhelmed, or simply skip that progression. How are you supposed to propel yourself off the ground and remain upright the entire time, anyway?
To assist in making plyometric workouts a bit less intimidating, examine these suggestions on how to safely incorporate the training style into your routine. Then, attempt a five-move plyometric workout for beginners that has adjustments, so you can modify it to match your current experience level, needs, and objectives.
How to Integrate Plyometric Workouts into Your Fitness Routine
If you need a reminder, plyometric training features explosive exercises that involve generating the maximum amount of force in the shortest amount of time, says Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S., a certified personal trainer with MIRROR and a lululemon ambassador. These moves typically entail jumping, leaping, bounding, and changing directions rapidly, and engaging in them regularly can help develop athleticism and enhance bone mineral density, adds Lydia Howard, M.S.W., R.Y.T.-200, a personal trainer and movement coach at Current Wellness in Raleigh, North Carolina.
To obtain all the benefits that plyometric workouts have to offer and simply add excitement to your monotonous fitness routine, keep these guidelines in mind. The main takeaway: “Plyometrics should be regarded similarly to any exercise: Master the fundamentals, start small, [and] less is more,” says Ryan.
Master the Fundamental Movements
Before you attempt to leap up onto a plyo box for the first time, you’ll want to first perfect the foundational, jump-free movements, says Howard. More specifically, you should practice squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, and wall sits in order to refine your form and build up the strength necessary to accomplish the plyometric movements, she explains. In order to properly (and safely) execute a jump squat, for example, you’ll first need to master the bodyweight squat, which is a foundational exercise, she adds.
Similarly, you should also focus on enhancing your mobility, balance, and coordination before incorporating plyometric moves, says Ryan
If you are unable to maintain a single-leg stance for a duration of 10 seconds — for each leg separately — or execute a flawless lunge or squat, then prioritize improving these movements and enhancing your coordination and balance capabilities,” he suggests. “Once you have mastered these fundamentals, you can progress to incorporating skipping exercises to maximize your vertical leap, followed by attempting a basic squat jump.
Emphasize Quality, Not Quantity
Regardless of whether you’re a complete beginner or you’ve been practicing plyometrics for a few months now, avoid getting fixated on performing numerous repetitions, says Ryan. “Less is always more when it comes to reps, as the power production decreases with each subsequent rep,” he explains. “The same principle applies to rest intervals: If you find yourself out of breath during plyos, then you need more rest to achieve maximum gains in power output before starting your next set.” Depending on your goals and the specific exercise you’re doing, aim for just one to three reps for three to five sets, taking several minutes to rest between sets, he suggests. Once you become proficient in the movement, you can increase the number of reps to around 10 per set, adds Howard.
Also, consider keeping your workout duration short, advises Howard. “Don’t attempt a 30-minute plyometric workout right away,” she says. “Instead, set a goal of 5 minutes or 10 minutes. It’s similar to the journey from couch to 5K — start small and gradually work your way up.”
Listen to Your Body
Due to the high-impact, high-intensity nature of plyometric workouts, it’s important to listen to your body throughout your training session and adjust your workout according to your current needs. “You need to pay attention to how you’re feeling,” says Howard. “If you experience any pain, then consider taking a step back. If negative self-talk becomes prevalent, it’s a good idea to reflect on the movement you’re doing and explore alternative options that may be better suited for you.” Establishing this mind-body connection is crucial for preventing injuries and ensuring that you actually enjoy your workout.
Don’t Hesitate to Modify
If you’re not quite ready to progress to full-fledged, high-impact plyometric exercises after mastering the foundational moves, feel free to modify the move so that it works for you and your body, advises Howard. You can eliminate the jumps to focus on practicing proper form, or you can hold onto the back of a chair, a kitchen counter, or a TRX strap to improve your balance.
Five-Move Plyometric Workout for Beginners
Ready to give plyometrics a try? Test out this plyometric workout for beginners, designed and demonstrated by Howard, to get a taste of this training style. Each move will challenge your power and speed, and the workout as a whole will engage your entire body.
How it operates: Perform each exercise in the circuit for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds of rest. If the plyometric exercise feels too demanding, modify it with the suggested alternative or try 30 seconds of work followed by 30 seconds of rest. Complete all five exercises in the circuit, rest for as long as your body requires, then repeat the circuit as many times as desired. Just ensure that the workout doesn’t exceed 15 minutes.
What you’ll need: a plyo box or platform and a medicine ball
B. Bend knees and swing arms back, then quickly jump onto the box, landing softly with both feet flat and knees bent.
C. Stand up tall on the box, then step or jump back down to the starting position.
Continue, jumping onto and off of the box, for 40 seconds.
Modification: Step onto a lower surface or perform squat jumps instead.
B. Flex knees slightly, then push against the floor to leap up onto the box, simultaneously lifting arms above head.
C. Land gently on the box with both feet. Then, step backward off the box one foot at a time.
Keep going for 40 seconds.
Modification: Step onto the box one foot at a time.
Rotational Ball Toss
A. Stand a few feet from a wall, with the right side facing the wall, with feet shoulder-width apart and hands placed in front of the chest while holding a medicine ball.
B. Slightly flex knees. Then, while rotating the torso to the right and generating power through the hip, throw the medicine ball against the wall. Avoid locking the knees and maintain stable feet throughout the movement.
C. Catch the medicine ball, then swiftly rotate the torso back to the center and flex knees slightly.
Keep going for 40 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.
Modification: Hold the ball in hands throughout the movement.
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