The idea of jumping, hopping, bounding and doing other explosive moves takes some people back to their college days. If you’ve done this type of training known as plyometrics, you must feel like a pro. Right now, plyometric moves are everywhere from boot camp classes, CrossFit programs to the personal trainer who puts squat jumps into the mix.
The benefits of incorporating plyo moves into the sports programs of athletes have been proven since the early 1970s. In most sports, the ability to develop muscle power is critical to succeed. Unfortunately, many people still view power (the product of force and velocity) as something just needed for sports.
Once in a while you used to see a baby-boomer doing depth jumps, which I’m sure made you think he or she was one of those “frustrated college athlete” types. However, with the boom of the high intensity intermittent training (HIIT), plyometrics have been brought into many gym training programs and serve as a great way to ramp up your workouts, accelerate fat loss and gain body mass. Plus you get to feel athletic at any age.
Plyo + Metric = “Measurable increases”
Kenneth Fowler and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., program coordinator of exercise science and researcher at UNM, explain that plyometrics rely on the stretch-shortening cycle, which defines the spring response of the muscles when landing on the floor, thus absorbing energy to quickly push out of the floor, releasing the stored energy. This is documented in “Explosive Power, an in-depth look at plyometric training,” published in the IDEA Fitness Journal.
When doing explosive moves, there are some things that you should be aware of before jumping towards an injury though. My sources say, the trainee should complete some force-absorbing drills, such as land-and hold drills, to learn landing and balancing after a jump.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) adds that point of contact, speed, the height of the drill and the body weight are all important factors to consider when selecting the intensity of this type of workout. Also be aware that single-leg lower body moves put more stress in the joints and connective tissue than double- leg lower body moves.
Likewise, the NSCA states that the frequency of this program modality varies according to the goals but should not be done in consecutive days while the intensity should be adjusted to the training volume. For example, if you do 3 sets of 10 squat jumps that is equal to a volume of 30. If you progress to do this move with weights, you should reduce the volume, i.e. 3 sets of 5 to a total volume of 15. For recovery time, the general advice is 5-10 s. between reps and 2 to 3 minutes between sets.
Want to get leaner, stronger and even run better?
Numerous studies show that HIIT, which alternates between fast pace, high intensity complex moves with short recovery periods, is one of the best ways to decrease body fat, increase lean body mass and gain better aerobic capacity. Strength gains can be added now among the perks of plyometric training.
A study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, shows that when recreationally active women performed a 3-day weekly plyometric programs for 6 weeks, they increased the strength of the hamstrings, which improved the overall quadriceps-hamstring strength ratio. This is extremely important considering that these muscles have a considerable impact in knee stabilization.
Your explosive workout
Weather your goal is strength gains, body tone or simply to shed some pounds, you too can benefit from adding explosive moves to your workout. Just be sure that you move gradually into this type of workout and understand pretty well the exercise technique before enrolling on this exercise routine.
Before starting this routine, warm up by doing 5-10 minutes of light cardio followed by this drill: marching in place, toe-jogging, but-kickers and lunging. (30-60s each move).
Different ways to perform this workout:
1. Do the whole workout as state below; repeat 2-3 times the circuit. As you progress, you can add some resistance but decrease the reps and/or sets.
2. Select one or two exercise to throw in your weight training routine – e.g, lat pull down, squat jumps, shoulder press, another explosive move, strength move, etc.
3. Select one exercise to do between your cardio workout to increase the intensity – e.g run for 5 min, do one plyo move, run for 5 min, do another plyo move, etc.
Squat jump (20-30 s): Go into a squat, sitting back with your hips. Explode up, jumping as high as you can. Land softly and into control so you can immediately enter into another squat smoothly for the next rep.
Two hand overhead throw (15 s): Using a tight core, slam the medicine ball hard into the ground. Catch it and repeat.
Split squat jump (10 reps): Jump and land softly into a lunge position. Jump back up and switch leg positions in midair.
Burpee with push-up (20- 30 s): Perform a squat thrust kicking your feet straight back into a push up position. Perform a pushup and pull your feet underneath you. Jump as high as you can, landing softly to repeat the move.
Bonus (not shown): 180 degree jumps (20-25 s) (two-footed jump, rotate 180 in midair, hold landing for 2 s, reverse direction).