Livekick Team | Jan. 25, 2018
Plyometrics, or ploys for short, is a fancy name for exercises that involve jumping. A plyometric exercise is a quick, powerful movement that starts with an eccentric (muscle-lengthening) action and is immediately followed by a concentric (muscle-shortening) action. Your muscles exert maximum force in minimum intervals of time with the goal of increasing speed, stamina and strength by doing higher jumps and faster sprints. Plyometric training is a great way for athletes to build explosive power in order to improve their basketball, soccer, volleyball or tennis skills where they have to apply speed. Some examples of plyo exercises include box jumps, jumping over cones, explosive push-ups, lunge jumps, burpees, and more. Plyometrics improve the functions of muscles, nerves, and tendons so that you can jump higher, run faster and hit harder.
How do plyometrics work?
Again, plyometric workouts begin with an eccentric phase of a rapid stretch of a muscle, followed by a short resting period (amortization phase), finally followed by a concentric phase of rapid shortening of the same muscle. The goal of plyometric exercises is to decrease the amount of time between the eccentric and concentric phases. With plyometric training, the nervous system is conditioned to react more quickly to the stretch-shortening cycle. Regular plyometric workouts will help to strengthen bone and facilitate weight control. Beginners should start slow and focus on performing the exercises in controlled manner and allow adequate resting time between plyometric sets.
The body’s muscular system is made up of fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers. The fast-twitch fibers are the largest, strongest fibers in our body. They are trained through heavy lifting, anaerobic efforts, and explosive movements. This is contrary to their slow-twitch counterparts, which are typically geared toward endurance, and aren’t as high in absolute strength. Plyo training focuses on increasing the strength and efficiency of the fast-twitch fibers. Translating this to the weight room for your heavy sets means greater involvement of your muscles’ strongest fibers for your lifts, which results in both speed and strength gains.
You can easily integrate plyometric moves into your workout regime by adding one or two into multiple workouts, or perhaps doing one full plyometric-only workout per week. Combining plyometric moves with resistance training is a way to maximize power and performance, but as a general rule, if you do a heavy legs day on Thursday, it’s probably wise to skip the lower body plyometrics on Friday (and vice versa for upper body lifting and explosive push-ups!).
Plyometric training can be a safe, effective and fun method of conditioning your body and bring massive benefits to your muscles, tendons and nervous system. And the next time your Livekick trainer suggests a burpee, you’ll know he or she isn’t just being evil!