Posted by on 1/5/2021 to Let's Talk Yoga!
A Brief Guide to Plyometrics Training
What is Plyometrics?
Plyometrics, (the word, "plyo") also known as jump training, is a type of high-intensity training that pushes your muscles to their maximum capacity. With this type of training, you'll use both speed and force of different movements to build up your muscle power, which is why you might see this in many athletes workouts all the way from high school to the pro's.
The highest level of exertion is usually just within a short amount of time. This is done in order to improve your speed-strength, and overall endurance levels of the muscles.
This type of training uses the "stretch shortening cycle". Basically meaning there is a lengthening movement quickly followed by a shortening movement of the muscle.
This is however, in no way just for athletes, many individuals can enjoy the various benefits that plyometrics training has to offer. You may invest your time in this type of training for a multitude of reasons. Maybe you're involved in a sport or activity, that not only requires a lot of running, sprinting, but also one that may be high impact. This can include, but is not limited to activities such as jumping and quick changes in body momentum, like tennis or basketball.
Maybe you're someone who is in fact just looking to increase their physical function for an intermural sport or one you participate in for fun. Maybe you're someone who was recently in an accident or trauma of some sort, as you can be sure to find plyometrics type training in physical therapy offices across the country. As the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 2015 (IJSPT) state, plyometric exercise is becoming a crucial component of late phase rehabilitation.
Plyometrics Explained! (4 Minutes)
Regardless of the reason, there are many great health and fitness benefits associated with these types of exercises. We'll be discussing this type of training in detail throughout the rest of the post.
What Are The Benefits of Plyometrics Training?
So, what are the benefits of plyometrics training? In this part of the post, we'll get into the real benefits of this intense workout routine. There are many ways to practice plyometrics training, but the end results generally lead to similar outcomes, obviously varying form person to person dependent on genetic make-up, over-all conditioning, and end outcome goals.
1. Can Help You Get Back Into Shape After an Injury
If under the proper guidance, the IJSPT (specific to sport physical therapists) discusses the role plyometrics training has on the continued efforts to get athletes back to optimal performance as quickly and efficiently as possible. They state that plyometrics has become not only an integral part of post injury rehab, but also helping to prevent injury in the first place.
Plyometrics is meant to enhance your muscle performance and growth. It can even reduce your chances of injury by helping you become stronger in specific areas of your body related to your sport, or movements you're hoping to advance.
As always, if you're using plyometrics to bounce back from an injury, consult an expert. This will help you get the results you want in a safe manner.
2. Great at Improving Athletic Performance
Not only can you bounce back from an injury or prevent a future one, but you can actually increase athletic abilities through this type of training to reach you optimal level of performance, and this is often times, a key reason many people start doing plyometric training.
Fitness lovers want to see better results in the gym, and many athletes want to jump higher or move faster (i.e. laterally quickness) while they are playing a specified sport that requires those movements.
One thing to keep in mind on your journey with plyometrics is that it requires high demand/intense movements related to your discipline and may not be beneficial to perform similar movements everyday, as your muscles need time to recover and rebuild, just as if your were doing regular weight training.
A review of literature in 2016, demonstrated studies that found plyometrics training (PT) helped in many instances in improved athletic performance. For instance, 2-3 sessions per week for 4-16 weeks yielded improvements in jump height, sprint and agility performance. As well as <8 weeks or short periods of PT also showed improvements in jumping, sprinting and agility in children and young adult amateur players.
3. You Can Target All Areas of Your Body
Because plyometrics offers such a diverse range of exercises you can target multiple areas of your body with this type of training. Due to innovated exercise programs like CrossFit, and others, many of the movements used in plyometric training have been brought to the forefront, again. Anyone and everyone can participate as well, since you're essentially using your own body weight to perform most of the exercises.
Most people think of plyometrics as just a lower body workout, however to preform the exercises, one really needs to be engaged with there entire body to get the most out of each maneuver.
Your cardiovascular system will also get a run for its money, as plyometrics is an intense workout that will shorly get your heart rate into those peak calorie burn zone(s) we all want and love. Since in many ways you're combining cardio and strength training you expend even more calories, adding to not only power gains, but weight loss (be it that you're eating correctly as well).
4. It’s Easy to Do This Type of Training on Your Own
One of the biggest benefits of plyometrics training is its accessibility. You do not need fancy gym equipment to do this type of workout. In fact, you can do plyometrics right in your home! A lot of other fitness routines require large amounts of money, equipment and space.
Luckily, you can tailor this exercise exactly to your body and your budget. You don’t even need a gym membership to start plyometric training. One of the best places to start plyometrics training is on a flat, soft surface, like a grassy field, something with a little give to it.
How Can Your Start Plyometrics Training?
Plyometrics training involves many types of exercises, as mentioned before. This includes things like push-ups, sprinting, jumps (squat, box), and kicking. Any type of movement where you can max out your muscle movement in which you are building up energy in your muscles with resistance and then releasing it, can be used in your plyometric training. The important thing is to create deliberate movement and actions to really work out your body and create more muscle power.
For instance, athletes can do specific movements to improve themselves in their given sport. An example of this would be with basketball players. A basketball player might do a series of jumps or hops to help them jump with more power when they shoot a free throw, or go up for a fadeaway shot.
In plyometrics training, this movement would be practiced over and over. You would choose to do a number of sets to explosively use your muscles to jump, shortening and then quickly lengthening the muscle. Keep in mind for some people, these movements may not be as appropriate as for others, so always speak with an expert if you are in a recovery phase for an injury or maybe your have never done this type of training prior. You'll want to build up to this kind of training and make sure your body is ready for it, always start slow and with the basics in mind.
Some common exercises that may give you a good start are, variations of explosive push-ups, burpees, reverse knee lunge knee-ups, and squat jumps, along with a plethora of others. An important note when just starting and as you move through some of the different exercises is to focus on your form, don't just go through the motions.
Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself, and make sure you're doing the exercises correctly each and every time. As you get better, you may want to add more explosive guided movements into your routines, and challenge yourself each time with knew exercises, more weight, or higher reps.
Final Tips and Advice For Plyometric Training
Overall, plyometrics training is an ideal way for an athlete, people in late phase recovery, and fitness lovers to enhance their workouts and take their fitness to new heights. These are challenging, but rewarding exercises that can make the most of your time and effort, especially if you're doing them for a specific end goal in mind.
It's important if you're just starting out to be cautious. Jumping is a pretty standard type of movement, but if it's been a while since you've been physically active, balance could be an issue, as well as not understanding or knowing what you're body is capable of, so be cautious, take it slow. This again is a high impact form of training, being to aggressive right off the bat, can lead to injury.