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Plyometrics: Strength Unleashed

“Jump around, jump around, jump up, jump up and get down”… I don’t know about you, but when I hear that song I can’t help but bounce around at least a few times. And when I do, rest assured my heart is beating.

Plyometrics, or plyos, are explosive, compound movements such as jumping, bounding, and pushing one’s self of the ground. Examples would be box jumps, clapping push-ups, and power skips. Once only used by athletes looking to increase strength and explosion, plyos have become favorite exercises to trainers and novices alike. Not only do plyos help with strength output, they can also be incorporated to increase balance and flexibility.

Benefits:

As plyo exercises can be done with one’s own body weight, no equipment is needed
Increases overall strength, explosiveness, speed, and power
Increases calorie burn; during and post workout
Increases endurance, strengthens the heart and lungs
Forces the muscle to work in both positive and negative ranges of motion
Many exercises are only performed in the positive range of motion, eliminating a major benefit of the movement (the negative)
Works the fast-twitch muscle fibers, the largest, strongest fibers in the body; which aids in overall strength increase
Decreases time spent working
With the explosive, high-impact nature of plyos, the focus is completeing the movements as quickly and as powerfully as possible; meaning low reps and minimum rest
With proper progression of exercises, plyos can be performed by almost everyone
Minus those with preexisting joint injuries or arthritis (must be cleared by Dr.)

Disadvantages:

Due to the high-impact nature of plyometrics, there is an increase injury risk, especially to those who are not seasoned exercisers.
Plyometrics tear down the muscles at an increased rate (which is a benefit over time and with proper rest and active recovery) and, as such, should not be done on a daily basis. I like to incorporate some variation of plyos to my workouts 1-3 times/week.
How to Perform:
As mentioned above, plyos should be done in low rep, high intensity sets with minimal rest between sets. They can be performed:
Before or after the “traditional” workout
As a superset with a weight baring exercise
Example: Barbell squats followed by body weight jump squats
As their own workout. Combining multiple plyo exercises is a sure to be butt kicker of a workout.

Sample Routine:  3-4 rounds, 6-10 reps/exercise: Jump knee tucks, total body plyo push-up, rocket jumps, plyo pull-ups

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