Guide To Plyometrics – Everything You Want To Know

Guide To Plyometrics - Everything You Want To Know

Plyometrics is all about jump training, and it’s a valuable addition to your workouts because you can use it in a variety of different ways to enhance your fitness regime.

Sometimes referred to as “plyo,” plyometrics is exercise that trains your muscles to have greater power and speed.

How can plyometrics benefit you?

Having more power and speed can help you in various ways to become stronger, whether you’re an athlete or you just like exercising. Plyometrics can help you jump higher, throw harder, and run faster, which can also benefit you in sport performance.

However, it can also be used to intensify your current workouts, and even help you target certain areas of your body that you feel need more work.

With that in mind, let’s look at plyometrics in greater detail. We’ll start with the three phases of plyometrics that you should know about.

What Are The Three Phases Of Plyometrics?

Plyometric Box

In order to better understand plyometrics and what it is, we need to define its three phases.

Plyometrics has a lengthening phase (otherwise known as the eccentric phase), a stretch-shortening phase (known as the amortization phase), as well as what’s known as a concentric phase.

  • The lengthening phase is when your muscles become loaded, sort of in the same way that you pull and stretch an elastic band or press down on a spring to tighten it. All the energy is held in your muscles during this phase.
  • During the stretch-shortening phase, your muscles get ready to release that energy that they’ve stored up during the lengthening phase. However, if this phase lasts for too long, it can cause the energy to be lost. The amortization phase of plyometrics should therefore be short and sweet.
  • Finally, in the concentric phase, your muscles are released so that a quick movement can be achieved. This is the explosive movement, sort of like releasing the elastic band or spring that contained all the pent-up energy.

Interestingly, plyometrics isn’t just about the muscles in the body – it also has a neurological element you should know about.

This type of training not only trains your body’s muscles but also trains your brain to behave differently with muscles. Basically, the brain usually limits force when a muscle in the body is stretched.

By doing plyometric exercises, you can actually train your brain to send messages to the muscles that they need to have quick contractions, which can benefit you during athletic performance.

What Are The Benefits Of Plyometric Training?

Plyometric Push Ups

Earlier, we mentioned that plyometrics can help to increase your physical strength.

That said, it’s also good for a variety of other things. Here’s a rundown of some important benefits of doing plyometrics on a regular basis.

Plyometrics Benefit Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers

Since plyometrics makes the most of muscle contraction, this makes your muscles more powerful.

Fast-twitch muscle fibers are responsible for faster muscle contractions, and they’re therefore responsible for generating more power in your movements.

Plyometrics Boost Heart Health

When you do fast movements with your body, you get your heart pumping!

Since it’s quite intense, plyometrics is an excellent type of cardiovascular exercise that boosts your overall health and wellness.

Plyometrics Prevent Injuries

Although plyometrics can seem like exercise that’s hard on your muscles and joints because it usually incorporates jumping, it actually boosts the strength of your tendons.

This results in fewer injuries because the exercises contribute to greater elasticity in the joints, keeping them healthy. 

Plyometrics Improve Your Performance

Plyometric Squat Jump

A study that was published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that a workout which incorporated both squats and plyometrics increased the amount of power that was produced by the thighs and hips of the study participants.

The result of this was an increase in vertical jumping ability that proves beneficial for a range of different sport performances, such as jumping in basketball, volleyball, netball, soccer, rugby, and more.

Plyometrics Makes You Run Faster

Being faster doesn’t just benefit you if you’re a runner, but it can also make you perform better in a variety of sports.

For example, a study that was published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine reports that when female volleyball players did plyometric workouts for 25 to 40 minutes twice a week, they improved their sprints much more than people who did other exercise.

No matter what exercise or sport you do, being able to sprint faster will give you an edge.

Plyometrics Improves Your Endurance

Having greater endurance is essential to finishing your hard workouts more successfully, instead of letting irritations such as leg stiffness get in the way of it.

Research that was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology reports that when male runners underwent six weeks of plyometric training they experienced less intense leg stiffness.

This had the positive effect of improving their endurance as well as overall performance. 

What Exercises Are Examples Of Plyometrics?

Man Jumping Over Rope

Now that we’ve looked at why you should be making plyometrics part of your fitness routine on a regular basis, you might be wondering what exercises are considered to be plyometrics.

So far in this plyometrics guide, we’ve spoken a lot about jumping exercises, but there are many other examples of plyometrics training because it can be defined as exercise that involves explosive movements.

That is a crucial element of plyometrics. The following exercises fall into the plyometrics category. 

  • Jumping rope
  • Hopping
  • Lunges
  • Squats
  • Skipping
  • Clap push-ups
  • Skater jumps
  • Barbell squat jumps

These are just some examples of plyometrics and there are many more.

Are Burpees Plyometrics?

Man Doing Burpees

Based on the above, you might wonder if burpees – an exercise that works every part of your body – is an example of plyometrics. Well, in short, yes!

To do a burpee, you start in a standing position and then quickly move into a squat, keeping your hands on the floor.

You then have to push your feet back so that you’re in a hand plank position, with your arms extended.

You have to move back quickly with your feet in a squat position, and then stand up.

As you can see from the description, a burpee involves explosive movements, such as when you kick your feet and move back into a squat position.

This, therefore, makes it a good example of a plyometrics exercise, but interestingly some people don’t consider burpees to be plyometrics.

This is because burpees can be seen as a body conditioning tool that don’t boost your performance when it comes to sprinting or jumping.

However, it does have explosive elements in it, which can make it count as plyometrics, so go ahead and add it to your plyometrics routine.

Burpees have lots of benefits, such as that they work out a variety of muscles in your body – your arms, glutes, hamstrings, abs, chest, and quads all get a good workout.

Can You Do Plyometrics Every Day?

Throwing Medicine Ball

Now that you know what exercises you can do in plyometrics, you might be tempted to do these every single day.

Plyometrics is useful to add to your workouts, but should you do it daily?

If you’re just starting out with it, then it’s recommended that you do plyometrics twice a week.

As you become used to the workouts, do them three times a week.

Although you can do them more often than that, it’s best to take some breaks in between.

The reason for this is because you want to ensure you use your muscles every few days to help them become used to certain movements so that you can build greater flexibility and strength.

It’s never a good idea to overdo any workouts.

Remember that taking a rest day between plyometrics workouts will also help to ensure that your muscles recover faster.

A Note For Beginners

Since plyometrics involves high-intensity exercises, you should have some level of flexibility and strength before attempting it.

So, while it’s good for beginners, it’s not that great if you’re inexperienced when it comes to strength training and flexibility.

Before you add plyometrics workouts to your fitness routine, make sure you have been doing other workouts, such as cardio and strength training, for a minimum of a month or two.

So, What’s A Great Plyometrics Routine?

Whether you choose to do box jumps, lunge thrusts, or any other plyometrics exercise you like, the best way to do plyometrics is to do five or six short sets of them, with each set containing about five to eight reps.

Make sure you rest for a minute and a half between your sets. You should use your body weight without adding extra resistance, as Muscle and Fitness reports.

Examples Of Plyometrics Exercises

Here are some examples of plyometrics training exercises you can do, as well as short instructions on how to do them.

Vertical Jumps

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. With your hips slightly tilted back, bend your knees and quickly jump upwards.

Make sure you land with your feet in the same place they were in when you started.

As with any exercise, when doing plyometrics it’s important to get the most from the exercises by maintaining the proper form.

Plyometric Push-Up

You’ve probably heard of the plyometric push-up and it can be quite a bit more difficult than a regular push-up because it’s faster and engages more muscles in your body.

How you do it is by lowering yourself into the regular push-up position and then quickly pushing your body up – you really need to get enough force to push your hands right off the ground.

Then, touch the floor with your hands and get back into the starting position.

Medicine Ball Throw

For this exercise, you’ll need a medicine ball. Stand with your feet placed hip-width apart from each other.

Bend your knees a little. Pick up your medicine ball so that it’s in line with your chest, then push up so that you’re standing straight.

Push the ball forward in front of you at the same time as you push your body upwards.

As you push the medicine ball, push your body into a jump of a few steps. When you repeat this activity, change to the other foot and push out with it.

Box Jumps

This is a plyometrics exercise that will definitely get your heart pumping faster.

You’ll need to get a box, preferably a plyometric box if you have one, and place it in front of you.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. While keeping your eyes focused in front of you, bend your knees and hips so that your upper legs are now parallel to the floor.

This is a squat position, but make sure your knees are always aligned with your toes.

Move your body up and forward, pulling your knees towards your chest, so that you can land in a squat on top of the box.

Push energy through your knees and extend your legs so that you end up in a standing position on the box. Step off the box and return to your starting position.

Bench Jumps

Another cool jumping plyometrics exercise you can do is jumping over a bench.

Make sure you put a bench in front of you in a vertical position. Stand on the left or right side of the bench and hold it on both sides.

Then, move your weight onto your hands and push your feet up so that you can jump over the bench and land on the other side of it.

When you jump, make sure you move your knees towards your chest.

When you’ve jumped from one side of the bench to the other, push your feet up and over the bench so that you can jump back to your starting position.

Foot Jumps

Rest on the balls of your feet. Keep your heels a bit raised, but your feet hip-width apart.

Now, bend your knees and keep your hands on your hips. Start hopping forward, always making sure that you push up and land with the balls of your feet.

Don’t let your toes or heels touch the ground. Once you can do this forwards, try it backwards!

Will Plyometrics Help You To Build Muscle?

If you want to use plyometrics to build muscle, you’ll be pleased to know that this can be achieved.

However, it’s important to know how plyometrics works to make your muscle mass bigger.

It all comes down to the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your body that we mentioned earlier.

Plyometrics makes use of fast, explosive movements and these help to train the fast-twitch fibers in the body.

These muscle fibers are the strongest ones in the body and they require exercises such as heavy lifting and explosive movements in order to become stronger. 

Is Plyometrics Better Than Weight Training?

Plyometric vs Weight Workout

As you can see from the earlier exercises we featured, plyometrics can engage many different muscles in your body.

It also gets your heart rate up because of its fast and quick movements.

Based on this, it’s easy to think that plyometrics is enough for your muscles to build mass, especially since plyometrics is said to be a combination of strength training and cardio.

But is it enough if you want to bulk up?

Although plyometrics can help you to tone up and build muscle, it should ideally be incorporated into a strength training fitness routine in order to be the most effective for your muscles.

This is because plyometrics works and develops different aspects of your muscles when compared to strength training.

When you use both in the same fitness program, you can make the most of your gains, and that should always be the goal.

As we’ve touched on earlier in this article, plyometric exercises need to be done with as much energy as possible in a short amount of time to make your movements faster and more powerful.

These movements give your muscle’s stretch-shortening cycle a good workout.

FYI, the stretch-shortening cycle that we described earlier in this article consists of muscle function that becomes activated when you do movements such as changing direction suddenly or landing from a jump only to jump again.

While plyometrics engage this function of your muscles, strength training exercises don’t.

Strength training is focused on building stronger muscles that will have more power in them.

When you lift weights, you make use of slower movements but your muscles need these in order to have more total force.

This is why strength training exercises work so well with plyometrics: you can work on building stronger muscles with strength training routines, and then make your muscles more powerful by adding explosive plyometrics to the mix.

This gives your muscles a balanced exercise routine that will benefit you. 

On the topic of combining plyometrics with strength training, it’s essential to have experience in strength training before you start plyometrics.

This will ensure that you can handle the explosive, quick movements of plyometrics training exercises.

With a strength training foundation, you can then add plyometrics into your workouts much easier than if you were just starting out with plyometrics.

What Muscles Do You Work Out By Doing Plyometrics?

Showing Muscles

One of the biggest benefits of plyometrics is that it’s highly versatile.

Since you can do a range of different plyometrics exercises, you can work out different muscles in your body.

For example, doing a plyometric push-up will work your abs, shoulders, triceps, and chest.

On the other hand, doing a vertical jump will work your quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings while also giving a workout to the muscles in your core and upper body because you need to stabilize yourself during the exercise.

In this way, plyometrics can be tailored to specific areas of the body that you want to target, making it an excellent addition to your fitness routine.

With all its benefits, it’s certainly worth trying out the next time you hit the gym!

Related Questions

How many calories can you burn by doing plyometrics?

It’s possible to burn up to 100 calories in just 10 minutes (if you weigh 135 pounds), however it’s important to push your limits and not rest during the plyometrics workout, as AZ Central reports.

How can you prevent injuries during plyometrics?

Injuries can happen during plyometrics training, even though it’s good for your joints, so always be careful.

To reduce your risk, make sure you train on a soft ground or use a gym mat as these will absorb the shock from your movements and are safer than working out on a hard floor.

Is plyometrics safe for children?

Plyometrics is safe and effective for people of all ages. As long as the children are being supervised, such as by a qualified coach, plyometrics can be an enjoyable form of training for kids.

Conclusion

If you want to add some variety to your fitness routine or you want to sharpen specific skills during your training, such as endurance and strength, plyometrics training can be highly beneficial.

In addition, it can help you to build more muscle while burning more calories.

In this article, we’ve looked at what plyometrics are, what exercises are examples of plyometrics, as well as what this type of training can do for you, so that you now have a clearer understanding of plyometrics and why it should be on your fitness schedule.

Add it to your weekly routine and you’ll soon reap the rewards, feeling stronger and more powerful when you hit the sports field or gym.

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