At LIVE, we work with clients and do online personal training, and when we put together our fitness plans, we are huge fans of tossing medicine balls, hopping on and off boxes, and bouncing over hurdles that we deliberately put in the way! These exercises are all examples of plyometrics, and they aren’t just for the advanced athletes anymore:
plyometric training can help improve any golfer’s swing, runner’s gait or basketball player’s agility and vertical jump, and it develops a fitness that is much more elastic in nature than typical exercise, which can make you more resistant to injury and improve your performance in day to day life.
Plyometric exercises extablish this training effect by being applied to the muscles’ “stretch-shortening cycle.” It is the sudden eccentric contraction that occurs as a muscle tightens just prior to a jump or throw that preps the muscle for the movement that is the key. When you jump off a box and land, you have to cushion yourself by tightening the muscles of the leg to absorb the shock, and they give slightly upon impact, storing a tremendous amount of energy, ready to explode in the other direction if done immediately. By now jumping up after jumping down, the concentric phase is performed and the power is released.
A tremendous amount of athletic power is available to you when this type of training is used effectively. Highly trained people will get the biggest benefit from jumping from an elevated position. An inexperienced person should begin from a standing position.
The key to an effective plyometric is to change direction as quickly as possible when the jump or throw with the medicine ball is performed. The least amount of movement performed in the quickest amount of time is one way to think of how to do it.
At LIVE, we teach people plyometrics even as beginners, yet taking it easy as your body adjusts is so important. Proper movement patterns and technique are critical when doing “plyos”, because the force being generated has so much more impact and momentum than other forms of exercise.