‘Spring’ into spring: plyometric training and why you should be doing it

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.

plyometric training

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’.

Examples include;

  • 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!

plyometric training

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.

Comments

  1. I agree; Spring allows us to be able to train outside – where we can do exercises like this!

  2. Nothing like some tuck jumps to get the heart racing. πŸ™‚

    • How many can you do in a row, Carrie?
      (Just asking ’cause I need to know how many to make my Sunday stepper do!)

      • I’m not sure of the actual number–the DVDs I do go by time intervals–anywhere from 30-60 second interval spurts. The wide knee tuck jumps are the hardest. Sometimes I cheat a little. Hey, I’m getting old. πŸ™‚

  3. The hummingbird feeder looks so enticing and optimistic. May you get lots of birds and beauty as you plyo spring into springiness! Why not knit a bird feeder?

    • The cat is on the look out for hummers; nothing yet.
      Are you familiar with the term ‘yarn bombing’?
      Google it. You’ll love what you find out!

  4. just pinned the workout..
    we have 2 seasons here in S. FL
    hot and hotter!!!

  5. You Canadians love those Plyo workouts. Peter Twist talks about them a lot, especially in the context of deceleration. I’m stealing (er, sharing) your workout.

    • Yes we do. A bit ‘Twisted’ that way…

      By the way, I trained at Twist for a summer and loved it. Got all sorts of great tips and exercises to add to my tool kit!

  6. I always mean to add Plyo moves into my workouts, but it’s hard to balance with running… my non-running days I try to do less high-impact moves. In any case, this is a great post, and I plan to refer back to it when the timing is right! πŸ™‚

  7. Thanks for sharing all this info! I need to start doing some plyometric training!! πŸ™‚

  8. Love plyo! Thanks for sharing!
    Yaitza recently posted…Bodybuilder Protein Pancake & more TRXMy Profile

  9. I would like to ask during a plyometric session, recommended rest are 1-2 minutes per SET, and 6-8 reps of 3 sets per exercise. Does that calculate to over 2 hours including rest time if there are 5 exercises, on top in the last part of the training rest time might be up to 2-3 min per set?

    • I don’t know about you, but when I do plyometrics, I only add a few different movements to a regular strength workout, as in the workout above. You’ll notice that plyometric movements are alternated with standard strength training exercises and the recommendation is to go through the circuit once. Total workout time should be less than 30 minutes for the above…

      Not sure if that answer your question?

      • i meant to ask from your workout listed above, do you only do each move ONCE, and you dont repeat them to recruit neuromuscular efficiency? My question is usually for each exercise I do them 3 sets, reps depend on my energy on full effort. So between each set I rest about 2 minutes, and latter part of the workout might be more. So if you stated 7-8 exercises, with 3 sets each, that’s 20+ sets, including rest time of 2 minutes between each set, wont the workout last over 1 hour?

        • Ah, yes Donald! This workout was only meant to be done once through. It’s a circuit style workout and meant to be short but intense. If you were going to add plyometrics to a standard 3 sets workout, I’d put them at the end of the workout. I try and keep the total number of sets in my own and my clients’ workouts to between 16 and 24. Depending on reps and rest, those workouts are finished in about 45 minutes.

          • Thanks for the advice! So just out of curiosity, instead of doing say 1 day “heavy resistance plyo” and the other being light/body weight explosive moves (as I’m training 2 days a week), do you suggest doing a combination, Strength first followed by a plyo, as 1 set? and rest longer and do other combination moves as I know heavy resistance recruit more neuromuscular signals (assuming my goal is to jump higher and I’ve been weight training for over 4 years)

          • Donald, I like the idea of combining strength and plyos together in a super or tri-set IF your goal is fat loss. If you’re trying to put on muscle mass, especially lower body muscle mass, you might need a bit more rest between strength sets to recover and be able to push it hard.
            If I were training strictly for strength, I’d separate strength and plyometrics days.

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