When mapping out a well-rounded physical conditioning routine, you likely recognize the need to incorporate a combination of cardiovascular and strength-building exercises in order to achieve your objectives. However, if you’re aiming to enhance your athleticism, it would be advantageous to include another style of training in your schedule: Plyometrics.
To acquire comprehensive knowledge about this workout method, refer to this plyometric training guide, which elucidates “what is plyometrics?” and dissects some of the major advantages of engaging in plyometrics. Additionally, you’ll discover an assortment of plyometric workouts that will leave you feeling incredibly empowered.
What Is Plyometrics?
Fundamentally, plyometrics (also known as plyos) are explosive exercises that entail generating the utmost force in the shortest duration of time, states Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S., a certified personal trainer affiliated with MIRROR and a lululemon ambassador. To accomplish this, you will employ the stretch-shortening cycle, whereby your muscles are extended to accumulate potential energy (the eccentric phase), and then rapidly contracted to release it (the concentric phase), as evidenced by research. “This muscle contraction phase is the secret ingredient for generating the maximum power in an athlete,” asserts Ryan.
Typically, plyometric exercises involve jumping, leaping, bounding, and swiftly altering directions, adds Lydia Howard, M.S.W., R.Y.T.-200, a personal trainer and movement coach at Current Wellness in Raleigh, North Carolina. The staple exercises are jump squats, jump lunges, box jumps, skaters, plank jacks, clapping push-ups, depth jumps, lateral jumps, tuck jumps, and broad jumps, according to the experts. Howard explains that these exercises typically rely on your body weight, but you have the option to intensify them by utilizing resistance bands or weights, as mentioned by Ryan. (By the way, Howard suggests refraining from increasing the resistance during plyometric exercises unless you possess advanced skills and are free from injuries.)
Due to the frequent jumping involved, plyometrics is generally classified as high-impact and high-intensity. As a result, it is advisable to limit these workouts to once or twice a week, with several rest days in between, advises Howard. “Engaging in plyometrics too frequently is not advisable as it can put strain on the joints,” she explains. Ryan adds that there is an elevated risk of injury due to the substantial force applied to perform the movements and the impact they generate. “In order to avoid injury, it is important to attain adequate levels of physical strength, flexibility, and proprioception prior to partaking in extensive plyometric training,” he advises.
Still, individuals managing issues with the ankle, knee, hip, or lower back pain, along with cardiovascular or equilibrium complications, ought to converse with their healthcare practitioner before attempting plyometric training, states Howard.
The Advantages of Plyometrics
By engaging in plyometric training on a regular basis, you’ll acquire the knowledge of how to transition your muscles from a stretched to a contracted position in a dynamic manner, which over time, assists in developing velocity and strength, asserts Ryan. Consequently, plyometric exercises “are designed to aid you in running with greater speed and leaping higher or farther,” he explains. And that’s not the sole advantage that plyometrics provides.
While plyometrics doesn’t possess an abundance of practical benefits, besides improving your capacity to leap over or evade objects, adopting this training style can be particularly advantageous for athletes, according to Howard. Just envision a baseball player: During each play, they will crouch down to the ground to catch the ball, then rapidly rise back up and throw it to their teammate, she clarifies. “Contemplate the contraction and stretching of the muscles that is occurring repeatedly for a brief duration of time,” states Howard.
In this baseball scenario, persisting with plyometric training can enhance the speed at which the athlete swiftly returns to a standing position. However, it’s not solely for individuals in the outfield. “Athletes engaged in martial arts, sprinting and running, jumping events in track and field, basketball, volleyball, soccer and football players, and even golfers can greatly reap the rewards of plyometric work,” Ryan adds. Irrespective of the sport, plyometrics will ameliorate the height and distance of your jumps, the speed at which you execute those two actions, as well as your agility and stability, notes Howard.
And scientific research supports this assertion: Studies have discovered that plyometric training enhances jumping performance in basketball, soccer, handball, and volleyball, as stated in the Journal of Human Kinetics. Additionally, engaging in just two to three sessions of plyometric training per week for a duration of four to 16 weeks has been found to enhance jump height, sprinting, and agility performance in team sports players, according to the information provided in the JHK.
May Enhance Bone Mineral Density
Not only do plyometric workouts put your muscles to the test, but due to the multitude of jumps involved, they also present a challenge to your bones, which may contribute to improving bone mineral density, remarks Howard. ICYDK, bone mineral density refers to the level of minerals contained within your bones. The greater the content of minerals in your bones, the denser they become, and in turn, the stronger they are — thus diminishing the likelihood of fractures, according to the Mayo Clinic. “Jumping is one of the optimal actions you can engage in to introduce impact into your life, so that your bones experience stress and react to it in a positive manner,” states Howard. In fact, a study involving 60 premenopausal women found that performing just 10 to 20 jumps, with a 30-second interval between each repetition, twice daily, can enhance hip bone mineral density.
Translation: Addressing plyometric workouts — when executed correctly, obviously — might prevent a fractured bone.
Can be Used Throughout Your Exercise
When you’re prepared to incorporate plyometrics into your training plan, you have choices. For a fast and intense session, you can choose a workout that showcases only plyometric exercises, which will usually be shorter in duration so you can consistently generate as much power as possible, says Ryan. To train multiple aspects of your fitness simultaneously, you can also integrate plyometric exercises throughout your longer strength-training workouts, adds Howard. “For example, you can perform depth jumps after completing a heavy hex bar deadlift or squat, as your central nervous system [will be] primed and prepared to go,” says Ryan. Alternatively, you can conclude your exercise with five minutes of plyometric exercises for a final burst of cardiovascular activity, says Howard.
The Greatest Plyometric Workouts
To elevate your power to the next level and feel like a dedicated athlete — even if you’re simply playing in a casual kickball league — consider including these plyometric workouts into your routine. Whether you want to concentrate on specific muscle groups or work up a sweat just like the celebrities, these workouts will undoubtedly make you sweat.
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