Plyometrics Exercises

Break up your typical weight training and cardio with a few explosive plyometric exercises. Plyometric exercises or “plyos” are exercises that require the athlete to exert a maximum amount of energy and force into a movement before a brief resting period.

The alternation increases speed, power and performance. Studies have shown that overtime, plyometric training can improve vertical jump performance, muscle strength and joint protection.

During your standard weight training you focus on long and slow movements meant to isolate certain muscles and increase strength. Plyometric exercises are the polar opposite. Plyo utilizes the entire body and is made up of quick explosive movements that keep blood pumping. These exercises are made up of three parts: eccentric, amortization and concentric.

In the first part, eccentric contraction, the muscle elongates while under tension. During amortization the muscle experiences a brief resting period. This phase acts as the transition period between eccentric and concentric contraction.

Finally, during the concentric contraction the muscles shorten while generating force. Each plyometric exercise is designed to integrate all three phases of the cycle in a few quick movements.

How Plyometrics Work

The contraction cycle explained above is the key to the success of plyometrics. It is this cycle that makes you faster and more powerful by strengthening the functions of muscles, tendons and nerves. This translates to more speed on the football field and jumping higher on the basketball court.

For beginners it is important to keep in mind that form is more important than speed. Get the form right first and then focus on completing the movements faster.

Also, since most plyo exercises involve jumping and soft landings athletes will need to learn how to master low impact landings. Incorrect form can result in injury or poor results.

The Basic Moves

Perform these moves on their own or in combination with each other.

Box Jumps

A box jump is a little more involved than simply jumping on a box. Make sure you have a sturdy box to perform the exercise on. Stand facing the box with your feet shoulder width apart. When you are ready to jump dip down into a squat and propel yourself up onto the box by pushing your feet up off of the floor. When you land on the box try to land as quietly as possible. This control is an important part of the move.

Tuck Jumps

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart in an athletic stance. Next jump as high as you can. Power up through the balls of your feet and pull your knees to your chest as you rise. This is what creates the “tuck” motion. As with the box jump, land softly on the balls of your feet.

Plyometric Push Up

These push ups are performed just like normal pushups. The one exception is when you are going back up you should push hard enough so that your hands lift up off the floor a few inches. When your hands return back to the floor get right back into the push up and repeat.

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