What is Plyometrics Training?
Coaches and athletes these days are becoming aware of the importance of plyometrics training to enhance power and performance. Although this form of exercise has been around for many decades, there are many people who only have a vague idea what plyometrics training is.
What is Plyometrics?
Plyometric exercises are activities that involve movements which lengthen and contract the muscles in quick succession. Plyometric exercises typically involve jumping, leaping, and other forms of explosive movement. Athletes can choose exercises tailored for their individual sport. These exercises often resemble movements used in actual competition.
As early as the 1920’s, many track and field athletes incorporated plyometric drills and exercises in their regular training programs. Half a century later, athletes in other sports, particularly those that require explosive power, started using plyometric exercises as well.
Purpose of Plyometrics
The primary goal of plyometrics training is to dramatically improve athletic performance in any sport. Plyometric exercises utilize the muscles’ full elasticity and strength, allowing you to jump higher, swim faster, throw a ball farther, hit harder, etc.
To obtain the greatest benefits from plyometrics training, your muscles should be able to stretch and contract as fast as possible, with maximum force. Proper plyometric training can help any athlete improve his or her performance.
Types of Plyometric Exercises
There are many types of plyometric exercises, and athletes often choose drills that closely resemble actual movements in their individual sport. Plyometric exercises are typically explosive and high intensity and are used to develop the upper and lower body. One of the simplest – and most popular – type of plyometric drill is the vertical jump. The jumps are done in a continuous manner, where you jump again as soon as you land. This overloads the muscles, leading to a dramatic improvement in explosive power.
For the lower body, typical plyometric exercises include bounding, squat jumps, and box drills. Plyometric drills for the upper body include medicine ball throws and clap push-ups.
Things to Consider
Before starting plyometrics training, you have to be in good physical condition. Your cardiovascular health should be good and your muscles should be flexible. Very young athletes (below 13 years old) should only perform low-intensity plyometric drills.
Body weight plays an important role in plyometric exercises. Extra body weight puts additional strain on the joints, so you must take extra care if you are heavy.
Be sure to warm up properly before starting your plyometric drills.
Coaches and athletes must keep in mind that plyometrics are not a complete training program. Plyometrics should be incorporated in an overall training program to develop strength, flexibility, aerobic conditioning, and agility.