Fitness / HIIT

Plyometrics 101: Why You Need It and Where to Start

Jumping into plyos!

Plyometrics is a high-intensity workout that will have you making gains not only on your speed, but also your overall power, and agility.

This type of workout and the exercises are beneficial to athletes of all levels and can be used to improve cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance.

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While its name may be hard to pronounce, we’ve broken down this workout to help you learn why you should do it and how to get started.

What is plyometrics?

Matty Nguyen, strength and conditioning coach at Heights Barbell Club, explains, “Plyometric training is any form of exercise that requires an individual to exert maximal force in a short duration.”

It’s great for enhancing your athletic performance, as well as increasing your power, speed, and agility. It typically involves jumping, throwing, or sprinting movements—all those fun, explosive bodyweight exercises.

According to Nguyen, because you’re using predominantly bodyweight, the actual load is much lighter, but the amount of effort is intensified. You’re working at maximum intensity level, getting your heart rate up.

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Who should do it?

You’ve probably heard about your favorite track or sports stars doing plyometric training. This is because they are constantly working on being able to exert more power in less time to help with their sport.

But, if you’re looking to get fit, then anyone can do it. However, the key is to execute proper technique and form. “There is a greater risk of injury if the movement or exercises are done incorrectly,” says Nguyen.

“This is due to the nature of the movement being maximum effort in an incredibly short amount of time, allowing less room for error.” So, make sure that you know the correct technique and form before adding it to your training, preferably under the watchful eye of a coach or personal trainer.

Keep in mind that plyometrics isn’t for everyone. Those with injuries or joint problems may want to skip this kind of training. It is a high-impact workout that tends to be hard on the joints.

What are some exercises to get started?

If you want to start including plyometrics into your training, then you’ll be happy to learn that you use some traditional exercises that you already know, with some added plyo power in there.

1. Plyo Push-up

This is similar to a normal push-up, but it includes a jump in between reps. When you extend your arms and push up off the floor, exert enough power so that your hands actually leave the floor. Clap them together in mid-air. Drop back into another push-up when you land with your elbows bent. Repeat.

There are push-up variations you can do to make it easier or harder. To make it easier, start on your knees. This will also help you get used to the motion of an explosive push-up. Then, when you feel ready, try it on your feet. If you’re looking to make it even more advanced, jump with both your hands and feet in the air before landing so that your entire body is off the floor.

2. Alternating Split Lunge Jump

Lunges are a staple in most people’s training program. Just like with push-ups, add a jump in between as you alternate legs.

Begin with one foot forward in a lunge position. When you extend, jump as high as you can and alternate your legs so that the rear foot is now in front and vice versa. Drop into a low lunge when you land. Don’t worry about going fast. This exercise is about that vertical power and trying to jump as high as you can.

3. Box Jumps

The box jump is one of the most popular and common plyometric moves. It involves jumping on a box or bench and stepping back down to repeat the movement.

The key thing to remember is to start with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees bent in a squat position. Then, jump off the floor onto the top of the box. Swing your arms for extra height and momentum. Land softly on the balls of your feet before stepping down. You can change the level of this exercise by using a shorter or higher box or bench.

4. Standing Long Jump

Yep, we said that there was going to be a lot of jumping! You may have seen this move in the Olympics, and you can replicate something similar in your own training to help your speed. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Swing your arms back behind you as you move into a squat position, knees bent. Then, explode out of the squat and jump forward as far as you can go. Land with both feet on the ground.

To track your progress, measure how far you jump. Then, keep practicing, jotting down your improvements each time.

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How many times a week should I do it?

The answer to this really depends on your fitness goals. If you’re an athlete or are looking to improve your sports performance, then four to five times a week is ideal. However, Nguyen adds,

“It’s not only useful for those who aim to be powerful, but also for those who are just looking to get fit.” In these cases, he recommends one to two plyometric training sessions a week.

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