SPICE UP YOUR TRAINING WITH PLYOMETRIC EXERCISES

Plyometric training has made its name mainly in the athletics world due to its benefits on performance and an athlete's development. Like with most training concepts an appropriate use of its method can be used by any fitness enthusiast and that's no different with plyometric training.

What is Plyometric training

Plyometric training involves a stretch of the muscle-tendon unit immediately followed by a shortening of a muscle unit. Similar to an elastic band when stretched, energy is stored and then released when the band is shortened after letting go. This series of actions is vital to plyometric exercise and can also be summarised as the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC), and can be viewed as the crossover between pure strength and sport related speed and power (1).

To help further visualise the stretch shortening cycle, imagine the landing when stepping off a bench where the achilles tendons are lengthened in the stretch phase (eccentrically), followed by a shortening (concentric) action with an immediate jump.

Benefits

Predominantly used by athletes however the benefits plyometric training can be taken advantage of if you're looking for something different within your training.

Injury Prevention

Learning how to jump, improving balance, strengthening the hip and thigh muscles as well as developing neuromuscular control (controlled unconscious movement) all have the potential to help reduce the risk of injuries in the lower body, especially with knee stability and the effect on the anterior cruciate ligament (2,3).

Performance

Plyometric exercises have a positive cross over in helping develop power. Jumping and sprinting have positive benefits from the use of plyometric exercises and potential power development within other upper and lower body movements is also heightened, together with improved joint position during exercise can only make performance more efficient (3,4,5,6).

Intensity

Plyometric exercises consist of a lot of intensity and explosiveness, therefore, introducing these exercises can be more enjoyable and still challenging for the individual whether you're looking to burn calories or improve performance.

How To Use Plyometric Exercise

Plyometric exercises are used in the back end of rehabilitation programs for good reasons, to help maximise the individual performance back to a good starting point, additionally because that individual does not have the fundamental strength to perform plyometrics due to the amount of stress created simultaneously (3).

Therefore the use of plyometrics should be carefully and strategically chosen based upon the individuals, abilities, goals and specific requirements. For the regular gym goer, combining plyometric exercises with resistance training can be a good method of attack.

If you're new to plyometrics starting on the lower end of reps scale (50 per session) 5-10 reps per exercise and 1 set per exercise would be a good starting point.

Resources 

  1. Chu, Meyer. Pyometrics, Human Kinetics. 2013; P4-5.
  2. https://web.eccrsd.us/christy/public/Athletic_Training/plyometrics_files/ACL%20prevention%20study.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4637913/
  4. https://shapeamerica.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02640414.2015.1081394#.XeD3D-j7TIU
  5. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.590.3621&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  6. https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0035-1548890
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