How You Can Up Your Game With Plyometric Training

“If you’re doing Plyometrics, you can jump higher and run faster and your heart and lungs are going to kick the panties off of anybody else that tries to get out there without it.” – Tony Horton

At one time plyometric training was only for athletes, but over the past few years these high impact workouts have made a comeback and are a big part of the most popular exercise programs.

We know that Tony Horton loves plyometrics. He’s not the only one. From P90X to Insanity to CrossFit and Cathe’s X-Train, the plyometric intervals are what make these workouts both challenging and effective.

Improve your running speed and sand volleyball game with plyometric training.

Improve your running speed and sand volleyball game with plyometric training.

What Are Plyometrics?

The word plyometrics is derived from the Greek word pleythyein, meaning “to increase”. Plyometric refers to exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time possible. Plyometric training involves jumping, hopping, and bounding movements that utilize lower body muscle groups, and arm swings, pulley throws and weighted object tosses for upper body.

Plyometric exercises are an important part of sports training that require high levels of speed strength, starting, stopping, sprinting, jumping and throwing. We typically think of this type of training as being specific to competitive athletes competing in baseball, basketball, soccer, rugby, hockey, and football.

Plyo training has made its way into the exercise programs of everyday people because those of us who aren’t participating in the competitive sports arena can benefit from these higher intensity exercises as well. In fact, if you been to a fitness class or purchased a workout DVD to do at home recently, I’m betting the workout was peppered with plyometrics.

Benefits of Plyometrics:

Some of the benefits of plyometrics include:

  • Increased muscle strength
  • Increased muscle power
  • Improvement in balance
  • Improvement in overall agility
  • Increased bone density
  • Increased heart rate and higher calorie expenditure

Incorporating plyometric drills into your regular workout in the gym or at home will carry over to other activities that you do either competitively or for fun.  The increases in muscle strength and power will improve your running, biking and swimming speed, and can make you more competitive at some of the things you do for fun like sand volleyball, three-on-three basketball and soccer.

Increased heart rate and higher calorie expenditure is the main reason plyometrics have become a mainstay in many of the popular fitness classes. Adding a few sets of lift-off moves can increase the intensity of your workout and up the number of calories burned just enough for you to get the results you’ve been looking for and you don’t have to spend as much time doing it.

Examples of Plyometric Exercises

Some examples of basic plyometric exercises are:

  • Squat jumps
  • Split squat jumps
  • Dougle leg tucks
  • Lateral jumps
  • Single leg hops
  • Single clap push-ups
  • Drop and catch push-ups
  • Medicine ball throws
  • Medicine ball sit-ups with throw

If you’re new to plyometrics, or have avoided these types of exercises in the past, you will benefit from starting out with just a few of the basic moves (listed above) and gradually increase to more difficult exercises. More challenging exercises like the box jumps (a two footed jump up to a box) and depth jumps (a two footed jump off of a box) are two moves very common in CrossFit.

A couple of sets twice a week is a good place to start unless you have an opportunity to work with a trainer or coach that can provide proper instruction and monitor your progress.

Purchasing a workout DVD that incorporates plyometric exercises is an excellent way to kick off your plyo experience.  You can do the exercises in your own home, work at your own level, and not the feel pressure of having an instructor pushing you to do ‘eight more’.

Many of the DVDs that contain plyometric exercises are labeled as HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts.  Some good ones are: Cathe Friedrich’s Crossfire, Kelly Coffey’s 30 Min. to Fitness: Plateau Buster, and Mike Donavanik’s Extreme Burn Metabolic.

Three Basic Plyometric Moves Demonstrated Here

This 5 minute workout video from Empower Your Body demonstrates some basic plyometric moves that you can do at home. I recommend starting out with a lower target for the jump-ups!

Keep in mind that there is an increased risk for injury whenever you perform a move where you lift off of the floor and have to land again. If you have problems with your ankles, knees or other joints be sure and ask your doctor before attempting plyometric drills.

And, as with most things, focusing on quality over quantity will assure better results and less chance for injury.  Avoid doing programs that contain plyometric exercises on consecutive days and limit this type of workout to one or two times as week; at least to start.

Over to you?  What’s your favorite plyometric workout?  Leave a comment in the box below and as always . . . . .  Thanks for being Social!  Share!