Are you trying to improve your strength, speed, or endurance? If so, you might want to consider plyometric training.  Plyometrics (also known as plyos or jump training) are exercises that use the speed and force of different movements to build muscle power with maximum levels of exertion over short periods of time. Plyometrics can include different types of exercises, like pushups, throwing, running, jumping, and kicking.

While plyometric exercises are usually geared toward highly trained athletes or people in peak physical condition, those wishing to improve their fitness can gradually work plyometric exercises into their workout routine. The exercises can cause stress to the tendons, ligaments, and lower-extremity joints, especially the knees and ankles, so it’s important that you have the strength and fitness level necessary to do these exercises safely and effectively. If you’re thinking about adding plyometric exercises to your workout routine, slowly increase the duration, difficulty, and intensity of the exercises.

What are the benefits?

Plyometric exercises help increase speed, strength, endurance, agility, and coordination. They improve tendon strength and increase your rate of force development, which is your ability to generate powerful movement quickly.  This is critical in sports that require quick, powerful movements, such as sprinting, hockey, basketball, or volleyball.

Plyometric training may also help reduce your risk of injury, as they improve your body’s ability to absorb shock. Many sports-related injuries come from body movements that go beyond its range of control. For example, a basketball player may jump to block the ball and land awkwardly, tearing a muscle or tendon. Plyometric training enhances the body’s ability to effectively absorb shock and reduce the risk of injury. Finally, high-intensity workouts like plyometrics provide a better overall workout in a shorter period of time than low-intensity exercises.

Are plyometric exercises safe?

High intensity workouts come with a higher risk of injury, so it’s important to start slowly and make sure you are using proper form. Developing an exercise program with a qualified fitness professional and getting guidance during initial workouts will help ensure you are using the proper form.

Equally important is mastering landing mechanics. Landing correctly means returning to the ground with proper form and effectively absorbing shock. The correct landing positioning will depend on what movement you’re doing, but as an example, the correct landing for a jump squat would include landing quietly (instead of letting your feet smack the ground) with your legs shoulder-width apart, slightly bent knees that don’t collapse inward, an engaged core, and a sturdy upper body (so, no swaying back and forth). It’s also important to master the entire movement using perfect form before amping up the reps. Like all exercises, it’s critical to warm up properly. Many workouts incorporate these moves in the middle of the routine to ensure the body is ready for the intensity. And, of course, if you have arthritis, bone or joint problems, or any chronic health conditions, check with your doctor before starting a plyometric exercise program.

Plyometric Exercises

Beginners should start incorporating plyometrics into their workout one or two days a week and gradually increase the intensity and reps. Make sure to leave days in between workouts for proper recovery. Here are some examples of plyometric exercises you can incorporate into your workout routine.

  • Pop Squat
  • Split Squat Jump
  • Burpee
  • Box Jump
  • Reverse Lunge to Knee-Up Jump
  • Tuck Jump
  • Single-Leg Deadlift to Jump
  • Hands-Release Push-Up
  • Burpee Into Tuck Jump

So, if you’re looking to take your workout to the next level and improve your strength, speed, and endurance, take a look at adding plyometric exercises to your training routine. 

Authored by Zach Meeker, Research Assistant for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center

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