Plyometric exercises are designed to increase muscle strength and athletic performance. They are explosive movements that often involve jumping, bounding, or quick changes of direction.
The great thing about plyometric exercises is that they engage multiple muscle groups at once and increase the heartrate, providing cardiovascular training, muscular and performance training. In short, there are few exercises that provide so many benefits at one time. As you advance in plyometric training, you can begin to incorporate equipment-such as plyometric boxes for jumping over, agility ladders, and bosus for an additional challenge.
There are a wide variety of effective plyometric exercises available to both the seasoned athlete and the fitness newbie. Here are a few of my favorites:
Squat Jumps On and Off: Stand on a step, feet about shoulder width apart or wider, squat down so the seat is low to the ground, keeping the knees behind the toes. Jump up and off the step, land on the floor in front of you in a squat. Jump while turning 180 degrees. Repeat the same squat jump motion to get back up on the step. Turn around again and repeat on nad off eight to ten times.
Suicide Drills: Choose 3 to 5 markers that are about 10 to 20 feet apart from one another. Run to the first marker, squat down to touch the floor, jump back up, turn around and run back to your starting point. Then run to the second marker, squat down to touch the floor, jump back up, turn around, and run back to your starting point. Repeat this pattern until you have hit all of your markers and returned to your starting point.
These are not actually plyometric exercises in the exact sense of the word, but they fit well in a plyometric training program with their quick directional changes and total body engagemnt. Besides that, they are a lot of fun, especially if you have a friend running with you to provide a little healthy competition.
Uphill Skips: Lift your knees as high as you can, exaggerating your skipping motion as you move uphill, pumping your arms. Jog back down the hill and repeat eight to ten times.
I typically do these bounding skips without a hill, but decided to take advantage of what had to offer and ramp up the intensity with a little climbing. By the way, if you don't feel at least a little silly doing this exercise, you're probably not doing it right!
Throughout this workout, remember to take frequent rest breaks as needed. Plyometircs are high-impact movements so be sure to include a good warm-up, cool-down, and stretching session into this workout. I recommend doing one set of each of these exercises and then allowing your heart rate to return to normal as you do some strenth training moves, such as those from the our or last week's . Then you can add more sets to your heart's content.
In the case of plyometrics, working out smarter does mean working out harder. Just two or three of of these high intensity workouts a week, though, will get you faster, stronger, and leaner.
Enjoy your workout!