Plyometrics is a term used to describe exercises where you store elastic potential energy for a second and release it into kinetic energy that makes your muscles move. It is also known as jump training.
It entails a muscle reaching optimum force in the least amount of time. Plyometrics exercises are used to in a very efficient way to increase your heart rate and it also works your whole body.
As children, we used to hop, skip and jump anywhere and everywhere and as grown-ups, we have to incorporate these same simple principles in our training programs in order to fully develop power.
Phases of Plyometrics
There are three phases of a plyometric exercise. First is the eccentric, which is the pre-stretch where the potential energy is stored.
The second phase is the amortization phase, this phase is the pause between phase one and two. It is
important to keep the amortization phase as short as possible so that the potential energy can be converted to kinetic energy.
The last phase is the concentric phase where the movement happens.
There are also three different modes of plyometrics: upper body, lower body, and the trunk.
Role of Strength and Balance
A certain level of strength is necessary before taking part in plyometrics exercises.
The recommendation is that you should be able to squat 1.5 times your body weight and you should be able to bench up to 1 to 1.5 your body weight.
Another important factor needed for plyometrics is balance. In order to properly execute bounding, skipping and jumping exercises, you should be able to balance.
A simple test for balance is to stand on one leg for 30 seconds without falling.
Special precaution should be taken if a person is on the heavier side because it puts a lot more pressure on the joints which can cause an injury. Thus, before taking part in a plyometric program make sure the flooring is good. Concrete is not recommended for jumping, because it does not give the knees enough cushioning to absorb the shock from jumping. Also, make sure you are wearing the right footwear, as this can help with absorbing the shock.
Basic Plyometric Exercises That Can Be Done Anywhere
Skipping is an effective way to increase your coordination and explosive power. Research suggests that if you skip for 15 minutes, it is as effective as running for half an hour.
Squat jumps can be done anywhere, provided the floor is good for jumping, you should be able to do Squats properly before taking part in this exercise. Make sure your knees stay in line with your hips, with your rear pushed back. The landing is probably the most important part.
Make sure when you land, you bend your knees and keep your shoulders in line with your knees. In order to make this exercise more difficult, you can lift your knees up to your chest while jumping.
Explosive push-ups are another way to produce power in your upper body. You should be able to do a push up all the way to the ground before attempting the explosive push up.
Keep your core activated and push yourself off the ground. If you want to increase the difficulty of this exercise you can do clap push-ups.
The use of medicine balls is an effective way to train for explosive power for the upper body and trunk Side rotational medicine ball throws is an exercise that trains the lateral muscles of the core.
In a squat position throw the ball by rotating only your upper body. Catch the ball in the same position and in the same movement and without stopping throw the ball back to the wall.
Effectiveness of Plyometrics exercises
What makes plyometrics so effective is that it is high-intensity training which means, it is very good for weight loss and for improving explosive power.
It can also serve as a variation in your plyometrics exercises. It is important to start with the basics, such as skipping and then progress to the harder exercises such as box jumps and depth jumps.
Make sure you get enough rest between sessions. Ideally, 48 hours between sessions is recommended.
Plyometrics is an effective way to get you very tired very quickly. But before doing plyometrics exercises make sure you have right flooring, footwear, enough strength, balance and aware about the proper technique.