Have you ever watched a volleyball player or basketball player bound into the air and wondered how they developed such explosive power? Chances are they spent a great deal of time doing plyometric exercises. Plyometrics are exercises used to develop explosive power. They’re good training for athletes in certain sports that require powerful movements. But plyometrics isn’t just for athletes. Plyometric moves have other benefits, and they can help to balance out a workout program.
What Are Plyometrics?
Plyometrics are movements that stretch a muscle and shorten it quickly. Examples of plyometric exercises include squat jumps, box jumps, lateral jumps, medicine ball throws and clap push-ups. Even jumping rope qualifies as a plyometric exercise. These movements are designed to build explosive muscle power.
Some people confuse muscle power with muscle strength, but they’re two distinct entities. Muscle strength refers to the ability to generate a force, while muscle power is the ability to generate force quickly. It’s easy to see how this can translate into better performance in certain sports such as basketball, volleyball, football, and even gymnastics.
The Benefits of Plyometrics
Why should you add plyometric exercises to your workout if you’re not an athlete? Plyometric training develops the muscle and nerve connections that help to reduce the risk of knee injuries, especially ACL tears. Plyometric exercises build endurance and burn calories. They’re also a high-impact exercise, which is good for building bone density. Plyometrics are a good way to add variety to a workout whether you’re an athlete or not. It’s a good idea to shake up your routine now, and plyometric power moves are an effective way to do it.
Some plyometric exercises such as box jumps are more advanced exercises and can lead to injury. It’s safest to stick with less advanced ones especially when you’re starting out. Start by adding a 10-minute session of plyometric exercises to your routine once a week for variety. Here are some good plyometric exercises you can do at home and of course I have a ton of videos that feature Plyo Exercises:
Place your feet together and bend down into a squat position. Quickly jump into the air and land again in the squat position. Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.
Place a small object in the center of the floor to serve as a guide. Stand on one side of the object and assume a shallow squat position. Jump over the object and land in the same position on the other side. Repeat for 30 to 60 seconds.
Place your hands on your hips and assume a lunge position. Quickly explode into the air while switching your legs so that the opposite leg is in front and you’re in a lunge position when you land. Repeat this move by switching legs back and forth for 30 to 60 seconds.
Do Plyometrics Safely
Plyometrics are a high-impact movement, so they’re not good exercises for anyone who has bone or joint problems. Get the okay from your doctor before doing these moves. Always warm up by jogging in place or cycling for 5 minutes before starting. Jump on a soft surface to reduce the impact, and make sure you’ve achieved a certain level of conditioning before adding plyometrics to your fitness routine. They aren’t good moves for beginners.
The Bottom Line?
Plyometrics add variety, reduce the risk of knee injuries, burn calories and increase endurance, but do them safely. They can also increase the risk of injury if you do them too often or without achieving a certain level of conditioning first and without warming up beforehand.
ACE Fitness. “Plyometrics: Controlled Impact/Maximum Power”
National Strength and Conditioning Association. Volume 27, Number 2, pages 78-80.