Plyometrics are a great way to burn calories, focus on strength and stamina and are a fun way to work out. You may have guessed with the reference to ‘Flight School’ that you spend a fair amount of time in the air and it is through a range of explosive movements that your body reaps the benefits of plyometric training.
What are Plyometrics?
If you’ve never done plyometric training before, you may not know what it involves. The training differs from the usual strength training that most people are used to, which involves slow, controlled movements. Instead, plyometrics involve fast, explosive movements designed to improve agility and power.
A plyometric exercise is made up of 3 phases:
- Eccentric phase: this involves the storing of energy in muscles and rapid muscle extension
- Amortization phase: this is also known as the transition phase, which is essentially a very short rest period
- Concentric phase: this is the ‘take off’ or muscle shortening phase to increase the force of movement
The 3-phase cycle is continually repeated as quickly as possible to maximise results. The aim is to shorten the time between the eccentric and concentric phases (so a shorter ‘rest’ period essentially), in order to increase speed and power.
Plyometrics improve muscle function and power, fitness performance and endurance and burn a lot of calories. Not only does the body see incredible benefits and improvements from plyometrics training, but the ease of training is also what inspires a lot of people to get started. You need little to no equipment, the movements can be tailored to suit all needs and abilities and you don’t need to head to the gym for hours to see the benefits.
Now you’ve understood the what and the why, we’re going to give you the basics on how to get started with your plyometrics training.
- Squat Jumps: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and squat down to build force in your legs. Using as much strength as possible, jump up, straightening your legs and trying to get as high as possible. As soon as you have landed, repeat the same process by squatting immediately back down and jumping back up again.
- Box Jumps: A step up from the squat jump and one of our favourite plyometric exercises! Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of a solid surface of a height you feel comfortable with. We always recommend using the provided soft plyo or wooden plyo boxes that are provided in the gym for this (unless of course you own one!). These usually come in a variety of heights from 6″ to 24″ and even higher. Start with a very low box and work up – we promise you that the mental battle of jumping on to these is far worse than the physical one! Next, squat down to build force in your legs in front of the box and jump on to the top of the box, landing in a squat position. Stand up and off the box or jump back down to the floor, landing with bended knees and repeat.
- Plyo Push-ups: Complete a standard push-up, but use an explosive force from the bottom to propel yourself off the ground. Pushing upwards from the bottom of your press-up position allow your hands to leave the floor entirely – attempt to get as high as possible. Make sure you have a soft landing back on your hands and repeat.
- Broad Jumps: Start by standing still, with feet hip distance apart. Bend your knees slightly and jump forward as far as you can, landing in a squat position. Turn around and repeat the same process, landing back where you started.
Each of these exercises involve no momentum and require strength and power only. There are a lot more plyometric exercises you can work on, but try starting with these 4 and combining them into a HIIT workout. Complete 30 seconds of one exercise, followed by a 20-second rest. Then complete 30 seconds of the next exercise, followed by a 20-second rest. Do this for all 4 exercises and repeat as many times as you like.
Don’t forget to refuel with protein after your workout to help build lean muscle mass and see the benefits of your hard work paying off.
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