Plyometrics

Photo Credit: Joe Mabel CC-BY-SA-3.0

Plyometrics is exercise by jumping explosively. It was originally designed to help improve the jumping performance of Olympic athletes. This form of exercise can increase your muscle strength. According to the American Council on Exercise, plyometric training can improve leg strength, muscle power, balance, agility and improve bone health. Plyometric exercises include hopping and jumping, which targets the quadriceps to improve vertical jump power and joint strength.

Low-intensity plyometric exercises are best for beginners or people who do not exercise regularly. Hopping on one leg and then alternating or jumping up to and then down from a platform, like a step-aerobics platform, are good beginning exercises. Intermediate to advanced exercises include leaping over obstacles and jumping up and down from platforms as much as 42 inches high. 

You should not begin a program of plyometric exercise on your own. A professional fitness trainer and personal coach can help you develop a program to help you reach your goals and avoid injury. If you want to add some plyometric exercises to your regular weekly routine, see a doctor for a physical and then find a qualified fitness trainer.

Plyometric Training

Photo Credit: LocalFitness.com.au CC-BY-SA-3.0 2008
Plyometric training is a form of exercise where the muscles are stretched and then contracted. The movements of plyometric training can be intense and high impact, so preparation and training are important to help avoid injury. Those who want to begin a plyometric training regime must exhibit both strength and endurance. Jumping, hopping and quick movements around and through obstacles are part of an effective plyometric exercise program. Exercises that take advantage of the elasticity of the muscles and the stretching reflex helps to build strength, flexibility, speed and endurance of the muscles. Quickly contracting and relaxing the muscles involved in a particular activity, such as jumping or pushing, can help an athlete perform better and ordinary people go through a busy day without becoming fatigued. 
Begin any plyometric exercise routine with a thorough stretching of all the muscles of the body. Stretch your arms, legs, chest, back and shoulders. Be sure to stretch your muscles prior to exercises because many of the explosive movements, such as pushing upward with great force in a jumping motion, can result in injury if your muscles are not ready for the exertion. Invest in a good pair of athletic shoes that will provide support for your foot arch and absorb shock from jumping and landing hard. Some plyometric exercises are high impact, so it’s important to protect your feet. You will get more benefit and avoid injury if you perform jumping exercises on any surface other than concrete. Hardwood floors like those found in gymnasiums or cushioned tile floors are best. 

Plyometric training is tough on your joints as well as your muscles. Don’t begin any high-impact exercise program without consulting your doctor, especially if you suffer form joint conditions such as arthritis or gout, or if you have bone loss due to aging or vitamin deficiencies. Gradually increase the power and intensity of your exercise over time. An easy way to incorporate plyometric training into your daily fitness routine is to do some interval training. For example, if you walk for 30 minutes each day, insert 5 minutes of a quick sprint or fast jog for every 5 minutes of walking. When performing squats, insert a squat jump by pushing upward and jumping with power from every third or fourth squat. Incorporate a burst of high intensity exercise for 5 minutes after each 10 minutes of regular exercise. Perform some high energy jumping jack exercises following 10 minutes of push-ups or crunches.