Plyometric training, aka "Plyo", is a style of training that emphasizes quick bursts of powerful movement. Advocates of this kind of training believe that this style of training can improve the functions of the nervous system and increase functional strength, speed and power.
What Makes a Movement "Plyometric"?During a plyometric movement the muscle is loaded (think bending your knees before you jump) and then contracted rapidly (the push that causes the jump). This sequence of muscle loading and contraction is performed rapidly—generating as much force as possible as quickly as possible.
Why is Plyometric Training so Popular With Athletes?In traditional weight lifting the focus is on building power and muscle strength, not necessarily on the speed and reaction time of those muscles. In fact many trainers believe slowing down the muscle contractions or holding the muscle contraction (isometric holds) are essential for maximum strength gains from resistance based exercise.
Most cardio training focuses on making your muscles work as efficiently as possible which often means focusing on endurance rather than pure strength. Cardio training will help you to build muscular endurance for a repetitive movement (think running or cycling) or improve your speed but you're not going to see a dramatic increase in muscular strength from just cardio exercise.
Plyometric moves require muscular strength, plus endurance and a quick reaction time to generate a single movement. Most sports require more than just brute strength or pure speed. Athletes need to be able to quickly burst from the line to block an opponent or drive to the hoop and jump a shot. This kind of strength and speed is built with plyometric training.
Why Should I Be Doing Plyometric Training?Plyometric moves train your muscles to be strong and fast. This kind of functional muscle strength is useful weather you're a professional athlete or just a weekend warrior.
Are your results from traditional training plateauing? The muscles of the human body adapt very quickly to repetitive movements (both cardio and strength training) and you'll quickly stop seeing results if you don't find new ways to challenge them. Plyometric training is a great way to work your muscles in an entirely new way and create "muscle confusion" which translates in plateau-busting results.
With plyometric training you'll also burn tons of calories and get a great cardiovascular workout while simultaneously increasing muscle strength. Be prepared to sweat.
Are you Ready to try Plyometric Training?
Try these challenging plyo moves with your next workout:
Bosu Ball Plyo Push Up
Kneel in front of the BOSU Ball with the soft side down. Grab the platform sides and move into push-up position. Inhale and slowly lower your chest to the platform. Keep your back and legs as straight as possible. Exhale and explosively push your body upward as you pull the BOSU ball off the floor. Repeat continuously for the desired number of reps.
Plyo Box Jumps
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, your elbows bent and a box placed in front of you. Swing your arms up as you bend your knees and jump on top of the box, landing with both feet in the middle of the box. Jump backwards off the box and return to starting position.
Test your speed and agility at a race.
Dena Stern is a certified personal trainer and the Content & Community Manager for Exercise.com. She works with a highly trained group of nutritionists, trainers, yoga and Pilates instructors and athletes to provide the best information, tools and motivation related to exercise and fitness.