Plyometric Exercises

 

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Plyometric Exercises are an advanced form of calisthenics exercise which involves high-intensity, explosive muscular contractions.  It uses high intensity techniques to develop athletic power, especially strength and agility, to improve performance in various sports such as basketball, football, soccer, rugby, track and field, gymnastics, martial arts, etc.
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Training plyometric exercises makes the muscles reach maximum strength in the shortest amount of time.  So, muscle strength and power equates to more speed and explosiveness!

To get the best out of plyometrics you should have some adequate physical conditioning before attempting to perform the intense exercises.  It is recommended that athletes planning to embark on a progressive plyometric-conditioning program begin with low-intensity exercises and gradually progress to more intensive exercises.

Some various Plyometric Exercises:

Listed below are three varying degrees of intensity: low, medium, and high.

Low Intensity
  • For Lower Body
    • Jumping in Position – pretend as if you were jumping rope only without the rope.  You can go as fast or as high as you’d like to vary the intensity.
    • Elevated Jumps – from a standing position you jump onto something in front of you or behind you that’s elevated, for example, a staircase or exercise box.  A variation of this can be done if you jump laterally to the side instead of jumping forwards or backwards.
  • Upper Body
    • Punching – you can use a speed bag or “shadow” box
    • Pushups – as fast as you can!
Medium Intensity
  • For Lower Body
    • Squat Jumps – jumping into the air after pushing off from the squat position.  Arms may swing upwards as this is performed.  (refer to squats)
    • Split Squat Jumps – start in a lunge position except your feet are not as far apart in front or back.  Make sure the back leg below the knee is parallel to the floor when in the “down” position.  Explode upwards into the air and switch legs mid-air.  Land in a standing lunge position and go back down to where your other leg is now parallel to the ground.  Repeat. (refer to lunges)
    • Ab Tuck Jumps – from a standing position with feet apart, jump into the air while “tucking” your abs and bringing your knees upwards as much as you can while in the air.  Your arms will flail front and back to give you some momentum to repeat the exercise.  Land on the balls of your feet shoulder width apart and repeat!
  • Upper Body
    • Punching – use a punching bag so you can start putting more power into your punches.  Box with the punching bag.
    • Pushups – clap in between pushups!
    • Power Jumping Jacks – this is an all around body work out for the upper body and lower body.  Refer to Jumping Jacks.

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High Intensity
  • Lower Body
    • Sprinting – running as fast as you can! Sprinting over hurdles will also give you a great lower body high intensity workout.
    • Kicking – use a punching bag to test the amount of power you’re putting into your kicks. Or while in standing position,  “shadow” kick by only kicking into the air.  Perform any one of the many martial art kicks if you know how to perform them properly with good technique.  Kicking takes a lot of energy.  Another advanced plyometric kicking exercise is to jump into the air and perform a kick.
    • Jump Squat & Elevated Jumps & Split Squat Jumps & Ab Tuck Jumps– do these while exploding as high as you can into the air!
  • Upper Body
    • Push ups – clapping in between your pushups… except you clap your hands behind your back! This requires a lot of explosiveness, therefore, do not attempt if you are not comfortable.  If you’re brave enough, you can do a normal clap before or after clapping behind your back for two claps in one pushup.
Are Plyometrics Safe?

The American College of Sports Medicine states “plyometric training is a safe, beneficial and fun activity for children and adolescents provided that the program is properly designed and supervised” (read more in Plyometric Training for Children and Adolescents).Plyometric exercises place considerable stress on the body so injury may result if done improperly.  Plyometric drills and exercises are advanced training techniques that should only be performed under the guidance of those with knowledge and experience.  If you have children who are active in sports, train them on proper techniques prior to allowing them to participate in these type of exercises!Research and studies have shown that plyometrics, and advanced form of calisthenics exercise, are actually more effective than weight lifting for athletes. For example, results for plyometric exercises of the legs and lower body concluded:
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  • “Based on the findings of this study, it was concluded that all the three plyometrics training protocols adopted for the study are capable of increasing leg muscle strength, but those with depth jumping and rebound jumping movements increased leg muscle strength significantly. It is therefore recommended that coaches, trainers, and athletes interested in developing leg strength should adopt these types of plyometric exercises in their training.” Reference.

Agility can also be improved, a study concluded:

  • “The results from our study are very encouraging and demonstrate the benefits plyometric training can have on agility. Not only can athletes use plyometrics to break the monotony of training, but they can also improve their strength and explosiveness while working to become more agile. [Improvements in agility can occur in as little as 6 weeks of plyometric training.]” Reference.
What Programs include Plyometric Exercise?

Plyometric Exercises are the essence behind the famous programs P90X and Insanity. They are fundamentally calisthenic exercises bundled together within a short time frame and when done properly by participating individuals the results are dramatic.

Best of all, these are completely natural ways of working out, Calisthenic Exercise!

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No Weights. Just willpower, and a little INSANITY.

Plyometric exercises when done improperly may cause injury. This is because plyometric exercises place considerable stress on the body.

Plyometric drills and exercises are an advanced training technique that should only be performed under the guidance of those with knowledge and experience with these types of exercises.