Plyometric training is a form of exercise that conditions the muscles and central nervous system through the use of rapid and dynamic movement which involves a rapid stretch of a muscle immediately followed by a shortening of a muscle.
Did I already lose you?? This form of training is typically used to increase athletic performance in sports.
Plyometrics can be used by individuals who have a solid base of muscular strength and flexibility to increase their power, strength, and balance.
This form of training is not recommended for obese or significantly overweight individuals due to the impact on the joints and chance for injury.
However, you do not have to be an athlete to perform plyometrics, but you should understand proper form and use low impact exercises if you are a novice.
Incorporating 1-2 days of plyometric bodyweight training can lead to significant increases in your muscular strength and power. This can benefit reaction times, agility, and balance, which are all important skills to have.
Don’t think this is just for the basketball player who needs to jump high to dunk a ball, but rather the parent who needs to jump into a pool to save their child from drowning.
The functional strength component of plyometric training is often overlooked, yet is an extremely important part of a well rounded exercise program.
If you are in good physical strength and thinking of adding plyometrics to your workout routine, I have listed 12 exercises (from lowest intensity to highest) that are a good place to start.
If you are NOT in good physical shape, I do not recommend trying these exercises without proper instruction.
By most professional standards, if you cannot perform a squat with a weight of 1.5x your body weight, you should use very low intensity plyometric exercises or continue to build strength before attempting them.
Also, it is important that these exercises are done on shock absorbing surfaces such as grass. Doing them on concrete is a good way to injure yourself quickly as the impact on your joints can be severe.
Lower Body Plyometric Exercises: Lowest to Highest Intensity
- Jump squats
- Box jumps
- Jumping lunges
- Knee tuck jumps
- Depth jumps
- Unilateral (1 leg) lateral hops
Upper Body Plyometric Exercises: Lowest to Highest Intensity
- Medicine ball toss
- Overhead medicine ball slam
- Plyometric push up
- Woodchop medicine ball throws
- Medicine ball plyometric push ups
- Single arm overhand throws
The use of a proper warm up and cool down are also very important when performing this type of training. Your warm up should consist of dynamic stretches followed by movement specific exercises (i.e. stationary lunges prior to jumping lunges).
The cool down should consist of static stretching (holding a fixed stretch for 30+ seconds) to allow the muscles to return to the pre exercise state.
If you have decided to begin using plyometric exercises as part of your routine, I strongly recommend that you educate yourself on the proper form or find a fitness professional who can provide instruction.
Due to the explosive nature of these exercises, performing them improperly can lead to acute injuries and put you out of commission for months..