By Mike Duran
Plyometric training, or plyo's, is also known as "jump training." When performed properly it effectively increases one's explosiveness and power. This type of training conditions the body through dynamic exercises that rapidly stretch a muscle (eccentric phase) and then rapidly shorten it (concentric phase). This sequence encourages a faster contracting motion from the trained muscles eventually leading to greater power and expulsion. The movements involved, which require minimal (sometimes no) equipment, can be performed forward, backward, side to side, up and down, or diagonally. Exercises can be selected that mimic the motions involved in a particular sport so athletes can customize training as appropriate.
Lower-body plyo's, such as a series of jumping exercises using both feet or just one foot, activate the quadriceps and calf muscles. Successful training will increase vertical jump, create more explosiveness, and reduce the amount of force of impact on the joints.
- Choose the proper height for the exercise. Two-leg exercises can be executed at a greater height than single-leg versions, and athletes with little plyometric training should also begin with lower heights.
- Load the muscles eccentrically by lowering into a full squat; then powerfully contract the muscles by jumping as high as possible.
- Land safely by absorbing the impact in a squat position with feet shoulder width apart and chest up (coaching cue: "proud chest").
- To incorporate the upper body, add a weighted medicine ball to hold against the chest during lower-body ploys. You also can do upper-body plyos by quickly and forcefully throwing the ball against a wall or to a partner. This trains the fast-twitch response that develops power and explosiveness.
To learn more about plyos, including them into your workouts, speak to an ARX trainer.