The term ‘plyometric movements’ refers to movements that are quick and explosive. These exercises start with a muscle-lengthening (eccentric) act which is immediately followed up with a muscle-shortening (concentric) act. Plyometric training includes the usage of these plyometric movements in order to increase your speed and strength, in other words power. Personal trainers use these movements quite regularly in their training with clients.
The history of plyometric training
Plyometrics first came onto the fitness scene in the early 1980s. This type of training was introduced by a Russian scientist with the name of Yuri Verkhoshansky.
In its early form, plyometrics involved athletes dropping down from a height and then directly jumping upwards. The shock of the landing would force an eccentric, muscle-lengthening action on the athlete’s body. The jump upwards introduced the immediate muscle-shortening action. The blend of stretching and contracting their muscles fine-tuned them. Modern-day plyometric exercises have evolved this ‘shock training’ into a much less intense ‘jump training’ with a greater variety in height as well as execution time.
Examples of plyometric training
If you are fit and looking to supercharge your workouts, then you may enjoy the challenge of performing plyometric training. It’s a great way to train if you are into high-impact sports that involve a lot of running or jumping, such as tennis, skiing or – alternatively – basketball.
Here are a couple of plyometric exercises that you can include in your workout routines.
Lateral Skater Jumps
The majority of the movements that you perform in the gym are linear. This means that you move straight forward and backwards. Movements such as running, squatting as well as lunging are examples of linear movements.
Lateral movements are vital to make use of in your routine as these build a set of muscles you’re probably ignoring. To work on your side-to-side dexterity, try out lateral skater jumps. As you make improvements, it will become easier for you to jump further. In addition, with these types of movements you can also focus on jumping higher in order to make it more difficult.
As lateral skater jumps are lateral and performed off one leg, it is not possible to jump very high, which minimising any potential harmful impact. It’s also easy to regulate how far you go in each jump.
- Make use of a small hurdle to jump over or lines on the ground which are 2-or 3-feet apart.
- Raise your leg which is inside and push off the outside leg.
- Jump up and over. Land on the opposite leg.
- As you land, remember that you need to bend your knee and stick your hips back as this will soften the blow.
While it’s not a super-complicated manoeuvre, skipping is an excellent plyometric exercise for developing foot speed as well as calf-muscle strength.
- Begin by jumping rope with your feet together.
- Then, go on to hopping on one foot as this places more stress on your ankle and calf muscle.
- As soon as you’re comfortable with that, alternate feet on each skip. Essentially, you’ll be jogging in one spot.
Precautions to take in plyometric exercises
There are a number of precautions that you need to take during plyometric training. Here are some of them.
Not for beginner exercisers
If you’re just getting started with exercising, or you haven’t done this kind of training before, it’s important to ease into plyometrics. A personal trainer is a great resource for helping you set up a plyometric training programme that fits your fitness level and goals.
It can lead to overtraining
Plyometrics fitness training isn’t something you want to do on a daily basis unless you’re a professional athlete. Attempting some plyometric training in two or three workouts per week, with rest days in between, is probably enough for the average exerciser. More than that and you risk burnout. When you’re getting started, work with an experienced personal trainer who can show you how to safely jump and land.
Start slow and low. Mix a few plyometric moves into your regular workout, for instance. Because plyometrics is high-impact and intense exercise, check with your doctor first if you aren’t active now or have any health problems.