Although there are numerous long winded definitions of plyometrics, in short it can be defined as; ‘Any exercise in which muscles are repeatedly and rapidly stretched and then contracted.’ Plyometrics have many hypothesised benefits, which will be highlighted throughout this article, and can be utilised as both a means of training and to enhance athletic performance in your chosen sport.
The scientific explanation behind plyometrics is relatively straight forward and involves training methods aimed at increasing both the speed and force during the eccentric or muscle lengthening phase of the movement which is then transferred into enhanced power, speed and explosiveness during the concentric or muscle shortening phase.
Plyometrics can be utilised to invoke beneficial gains in almost all activity and sports requiring power, speed and explosiveness such as sprinting, basketball and boxing to name but a few. The secret behind plyometrics is transferring from the eccentric phase to the concentric phase in the shortest possible time so that any energy potential developed is made available for the subsequent movement and not lost in transition. This is known as the stretch shortening cycle.
Due to the explosive nature of plyometrics, training differs to that of traditional weight lifting, which normally requires slow controlled movements. Not only will this place new demands on your body and shock your muscular system, but it will take you away from your monotonous weight lifting regimes, offering you the chance once again to be physically and mentally stimulated and challenged.
So what are the reported benefits of plyometrics?
Depending on the exercises you wish to complete for your own individual needs, equipment may or may not be required. Common plyometric equipment includes boxes, ladders and skipping ropes – all of which should be found at your chosen gym or health club.
Lower body plyometric exercises can include:
Upper body plyometric equivalents can consist of:
In summary, plyometric training can be utilised as both a means of training and to enhance athletic performance in your chosen sport. Benefits include enhanced muscular power, explosiveness and strength.
Before signing off, it’s important to highlight that plyometrics training places enhanced demands on your muscular system and as a result you should have a solid strength foundation before attempting such exercises. If you are suffering with any injury or medical condition, seek advice before performing any plyometrics based training regimes.