Plyometrics used to be thought of as exercise that was reserved for experienced athletes only. These days, this training technique has become a popular form of exercise for people of all ages, including children and teens. So what exactly is plyometrics you might ask? It is the execution of exercises with rapid stretching and shortening of muscles that are designed to increase the explosiveness of muscles as well as to increase muscular power. These exercises require bouts of jumping and hopping – incorporating exercises that are exerted with a certain amount of force. Most exercises require the use of more than one muscle group and are great for the larger muscle groups.
As with any form of exercise, it is always advisable to check with your physician first before starting any new kind of activity. It is imperative that the plyometric exercises are executed correctly due to the impact that these exercises have on joints during these explosive moves. For beginners, keeping it simple is best. A simple session of one to three sets of six to ten repetitions incorporating one upper body and one lower body exercise is a good start. Research has found the following about plyometric training,
When used with a periodized strength-training program, can contribute to improvements in vertical jump performance, acceleration, leg strength, muscular power, increased joint awareness, and overall proprioception.
Agility is one of the main advantages of plyometrics giving rise to the increased ability to maintain the correct body positioning while executing a series of movements that require quick changes in direction. Some sports that plyometric exercises mimic include tennis, football, skiing, basketball, and volleyball. Many of these sports activities use plyometric training when preparing for competitive events, such as the Olympics. This type of training leads to improvement in vertical jump performance, joint protection and muscle strength, and may help to control body weight. In this day and age, where finances are in short supply, using plyometric exercises has the added advantage that minimal equipment is required. Most of the exercises use your own body weight, thus eliminating the need for expensive equipment.
Points To Remember
Because of the nature of these exercises, there are certain points that need to be remembered when taking up this form of exercise. According to the experts,
The most effective plyometric programs emphasize the quality instead of the quantity of jumps.
When you perform a move correctly, you get the most benefit out of doing it with the least amount of injury risk. For the beginner, it is best to ease into the moves and only move on to more difficult exercises once the proper technique has been mastered. Always ensure that the surface you are landing on is either grass or a padded gym mat on a wooden floor. Another point to remember with the technique is not to allow side-to-side motion at the knee and to always use proper landing technique with all jumping moves – this means landing from toe to heel and using the entire foot for even distribution of impact. Getting enough rest between training sessions is another vital point to remember. Due to the nature of the exercises your muscles need time to recover fully before your next training session. It is recommended that there be at least a 48-hour rest period between sessions.
While plyometrics is not for everyone, it could add variety to your workout and take you up a notch when you hit a plateau. By adding some plyometrics exercises to your routine, you add fun to your workout taking it from monotonous to a dynamic and exciting activity.