Plyometric training is a special form of strength training in which your muscles are being worked by using great power and explosiveness during very short periods of time. It is mainly applied in specific sports to improve strength and speed, coordination and overall performance.
If your goal is to be stronger, faster and more explosive, then plyometric training will absolutely be of interest to you. Let’s see to what extent plyometrics can help and who can use them.
What exactly is plyometric training
Plyometric training is a set of specialized, high intensity training methods that enhance the development of the athlete in power and speed respectively.
Plyometric exercises are, generally speaking, different jumps (height, length, and on the box), bouncing movements, throwing a medicine ball, jump push ups and other similar exercises.
For the first time these type of movements were collected under the name “pliometriya” in 1960, after the specific training methods of the Russian high jumpers high and triple jumpers. Very soon pliometric training found its application in the preparation of athletes from various sports in who seek explosiveness and power.
How plyometric training works
Priometric exercises are a combination of involuntary reflex followed by rapid volitional muscle contraction. The basic principle of operation is based on strong hyperextension of the muscle before the muscle contraction – or act of elastic forces.
Plyometric training involves high-intensity, rapid, explosive muscle contractions that provoke strong stretching of the muscles so that subsequently the muscle will contract with greater force.
The effect can be compared with a stretchable spring. The more it is stretched, the harder it will contract.
Thus, if the muscle is stretched before the main motion, elastic forces will occur and potential energy will accumulate, which in turn will help the quick and explosive contraction of the muscle.
Every plyometric exercise has 3 phases of motion:
– fast, eccentric loading, in which the muscle is stretched;
– depreciation phase – middle phase. This phase appears as a break, and the shorter it is, the more strongly and effectively the contraction of the muscle will happen;
– explosive concentric phase, in which the muscle shortens.
Application of plyometric training
The inclusion of a plyometric training program will develop speed and strength far beyond the capabilities you get by only using strength training with weights. Therefore this type of training is applied by professional athletes in various specific sports, where progress of these qualities leads to increased success. Take for example sports that require athletes to produce maximum power in a minimal period of time (like sprinters, long jumpers, basketball players etc.).
However pliometrics are not for beginners. It takes stable and adequate power behind experience, knowledge of your own body, careful attention to proper technique and training programming – how often and how to incorporate plyometric movements, so as to reap the optimal benefits of them.
Plyometric training safety
Plyometric exercises are considered at high risk of injuries. This risk may increase if you do not follow some basic steps.
According to James Radcliffe (strength and conditioning coach at the University of Oregon) a standard resistance training involving pliometric movements should contain 6 main elements:
– Warm up. Especially the muscles that will be exposed to these movements;
– Pliometrics. These should be placed at the beginning of the workout when the muscles are fresh and can be optimally used;
– Compound movements;
– Isolation work during which you’ll drain the last drop of energy from the muscle worked.
– Cool down.
Of course, everything is individual and depends on the specific objectives and periodization of training.
– Include pliometrics if you are in good physical condition;
– Do not apply them if you have serious injuries, joint pain or if you have not trained for a long time;
– Before you start with explosive exercises, make sure you have full range of motion and strength in the parts of the body that will be involved;
– Warm up well;
– Wear comfortable shoes with adequate sole that allows the use of the entire foot and toes;
– Start slowly. Listen to your body and the signals it sends, and forget about your ego. Consider the options and move ahead slowly but steadily over time;
– Begin always bilaterally and in time, depending on the number of drills performed, your power and explosive development, progress with unilateral exercises;
– Aim for precise technique which does not give you any discomfort. Be sure to land softly and use the entire foot. Watch out for the position of the knees – pelvis – spine;
– Pay attention to sharp pain in muscles, joints or ligaments – it is a signal that you need to stop and find a reason for the discomfort (fatigued muscles, improper positioning of the body, bad landing, etc.);
– Make time for stretching. Stretching after exercise is very neglected, but it is relevant to your good health;
– Allow adequate rest between workouts with plyometric exercises.
Plyometric exercises and their variations are many and can’t be discussed in detail in one article. We will mention some of them:
Lower body pliometric exercises
Jump in place – jumping high and landing in the same place. This improves vertical component of a jump;
Leg bounds – Improves the speed in horizontal terms;
Jumping on a box – the higher the box, the more intense is the movement;
Depth Jump Horizontal – Jump from a box, land and immediately do a horizontal jump (video).
Upper body pliometric exercises
Quick, power movements of the upper body used in sports such as baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, etc.
Throwing and catching a medicine ball;