Well, spring has finally arrived. Hooray! No more snow for the Pacific Northwest (except for the little bit that surprised us on Wednesday), longer days and a hint of warmth in the air. My cherry trees are almost in bloom and the hummingbird feeders are full and awaiting their first visitors.
It’s the perfect time to add some ‘spring’ to your training!
Plyometric, or ‘jump training’, is defined as ‘any exercise that enables a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible’. It involves first stretching (or lengthening) the muscle then rapidly shortening (or contracting it), producing a more powerful muscular contraction than a simple concentric muscle contraction. Think about an elastic band; the band (analogous to your muscle), when stretched, has the potential to rapidly and powerfully return to its original length upon release.
The key is to be quick; spend as little time with your feet in contact with the floor as possible. Feet should be nearly flat in all landings and the elbows should be brought behind the midline of the body so the arms can be rapidly moved forward to help with ‘lift off’.
- jumps-in-place (forwards and backwards, laterally, single and double footed, tuck jumps and split squat jumps)
- standing jumps (long jump, jumping over barriers, jump up and reach)
- multiple jumps (hopping over cones or hurdles, helicopter squat jumps, stadium or stair hops)
- box drills (single leg push-offs, lateral step ups, box jumps, lateral box jumps)
- depth jumps (jump from top of box, incline pushup depth jump)
- bounding (skipping, backward skipping, forward or lateral bounding with arm action,
- upper body medball exercises (underhand/overhand throws, side throws, slams, chest passess)
The benefits of including plyometrics (or ‘plyos’ as they’re sometimes referred to) in your regular training program include;
- improved speed and agility
- increased bone density
- integration of speed with strength (producing more powerful movements)
- elevated fat burning
Although frequently performed by competitive athletes wanting to improve their sport, even relatively new exercisers can incorporate plyometrics into their training if they pay special attention to the following points;
- choose a soft surface to train on (grass or rubber rather than concrete or cement)
- start slowly, interspersing a few repetitions of a plyometric move between sets of your regular strength training exercises
- build intensity (how high you jump), volume (how many repetitions you perform), duration (the length of the plyometric interval) and frequency (how many times per week you do plyos) as your body gets stronger and adapts to the new load
- rest adequately both immediately after a plyometric interval and between plyometric workouts
- always perform a full body warmup before jumping (you should warm up before any type of workout, but plyometric training requires extra attention to knee and ankle mobilization)
- stretch big muscles afterwards and replenish fluids immediately
Excited to ‘spring’ into action? Try the plyometric circuit below. Feel free to share it with your friends, ‘Pin it’ on your boards and tell me how you did, in the comments section below!
Coincidentally, I came across another blog post on plyometric training just yesterday with a title similar to mine (I guess ‘Spring into spring’ is an obvious name for a post about jump training!). Check out Bonnie and Steve’s plyo workout here.
Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.