Originally developed for Olympic athletes, plyometric training is a training technique designed to increase muscular power and explosiveness.
A plyometric training session consists of resistance exercises that rapidly stretch a muscle (eccentric phase) and then rapidly shorten it (concentric phase). Hopping and jumping exercises are the perfect example of some plyometric exercises.
This form of training is associated with many benefits, such as the improvement of:
- the muscular explosive power and resistance;
- Vertical jump performance;
- Leg strength;
- Overall agility;
- Bone density;
- The joints’ condition, reducing the risk of injury in some people;
- The control of the body weight.
Like any other demanding exercises, plyometric training is also associated with some risks, including an increased risk of injury, especially for people who don’t have adequate strength to begin with. It is recommended to begin a plyometric program with the help and supervision of a qualified coach or trainer who can gradually introduce you to the exercises which are recommended for your age and fitness level and who can teach you proper landing techniques before gradually advancing you to more difficult exercises.
Examples of Plyometric Exercises
There are thousands of plyometric exercises, such as:
- Vertical Depth Jumps
- Stand on box close to front edge facing vertical jump flag.
- Step off box landing on both feet under vertical jump flag. Jump off the ground as fast as possible. Reach up with one or both hands and hit the highest flag possible.
- Stair Jumps
- Stand facing bottom of staircase.
- Squat down and jump up steps using a double arm swing. Upon landing, immediately jump up steps again.
- Box Jump March
- Stand in front of a short box or platform. Place one foot on edge of box.
- Jump up high and land with opposite foot on edge of box and other foot on floor. Immediately repeat.
- Barrier Lateral Jump
- Stand with side to barrier.
- Jump sideways to opposite side of barrier. Upon landing, immediately jump to other side.
Other Plyometric exercises at: http://www.exrx.net/Lists/PowerExercises.html
Tips to develop proper plyometric technique
- As a beginners, train under proper supervision;
- Start with easy and safe plyometric exercises and gradually increase difficulty;
- Learn safe plyometric technique ( for example, safe landing techniques such as landing from toe to heel from a vertical jump)
- More complicated exercises such as depth jumping should only be gradually introduced over time;
- Use your instructor’s opinion to assess your physical condition and injury status before advancing to the next level;
- Modify the training program when necessary to optimize gains and prevent over-training;
- Use proper training equipment, foam or other soft barriers; boxes and jumping surfaces that can’t twist on impact;
- Rest for at least 48 hours, between training sessions.