Taking flight: an intro to plyometrics

Taking flight: an intro to plyometrics

I get a lot of questions about plyometric training – such as “What are the benefits?” and “How do I begin or incorporate this type of exercise?”  With summer ramping up and many of us spending more time outdoors, it seems the ideal time to share more information about this powerful method of training. *Stay tuned for some videos on this subject coming soon!

First, what is plyometrics? Plyometrics is a training method used to develop power through explosive movements that require the body to leave the ground. It’s sometimes also called jump training.  This style of training was made famous by Soviet athletes in the 1970’s who were in jumping/explosive movement-based sports and looking for an edge.  Fast forward to today, you may hear about two different version of plyometrics, the traditional “Shock method” and modern plyometrics.  Without getting too technical, the former is much more strict with regards to how much time you are allowed between the lengthening and shortening phases of muscle contraction, while the latter describes any activity that involves jump or explosive movements not considering time of contractions.

What are the benefits? From a training methodology perspective, plyometric training is on the more intense side.  This is because there is an overload being placed on the tissues in both phases of the movement. First to generate enough force to overcome gravity and propel the body upwards into the air.  The second overload is when the body returns to meet the contact surface and absorbs the kinetic energy or force (recall, Force = Mass x Acceleration). Since this training method is commonly used in explosive and jumping based sports, one can expect the benefits of plyometric training to come in the form of quicker reaction times, and stronger movements leading to more explosive movements.  Additional benefits of plyometric training include increased balance and stability, agility, strength, speed, endurance and of course power.

How does one begin plyometrics? Since plyometric training is on the more intense side, one should already be well conditioned before beginning and have a plan  for proper progression.  For someone new to exercise, I would recommend they begin with walking, progress to “step up” type movements, and then finally start incorporating small bi-lateral jumps in a stationary position.  For an individual already well conditioned, I would jump right to (pun intended) bi-lateral jumps in a stationary position and progress them by achieving certain jump heights by either jumping on or over an object (we’ll share some videos in the near future).  To implement plyometrics into a outdoor environment, you want to look for two things: obstacles that you can jump OVER or ONTO.  Imagine you are going for a walk and you see a large boulder that has a flat top surface. As you approach this boulder you set yourself up in a squat stance (feet approximately shoulder width apart) and you either “jump” onto the boulder OR “step up” onto it, walk to the other side and again jump off or step off.  This is just one example of how to incorporate explosive plyometric movements into a routine walk.

View this video to find how how to begin adding some plyometrics to your workouts.

Examples of Plyometrics:

  • Jump squats
  • Split lunges
  • Clap push ups
  • Burpees
  • Tuck jumps
  • Skipping

Example workout incorporating plyometrics:

  • Skipping 2 minutes (warm up)
  • Jumping Jacks (20)
  • Squat jumps (10)
  • Explosive/clap push ups (10) – these can be done from the knees
  • Mountain Climbers (20)
  • Skipping 2 minutes
  • BREAK: 60 seconds

Repeat circuit 2-4x

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Anthony Barsby
Anthony Barsby

As our Human Performance Specialist, Anthony provides clients with comprehensive and customized lifestyle coaching through face-to-face consultations and online mentoring. A Certified Exercise Physiologist, Anthony administers fitness assessments and designs exercise programs that address each individual's goals and needs.