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Plyometrics: When, Why, and How

Plyometric Exercises

Plyometrics may be a term you are not familiar with or one you have heard in passing. Full disclosure, plyometrics are not for the faint of heart, nor are they for the sedentary or newly active.

What Is a Plyometric Exercise?

Also known as jump training, plyos, calisthenics, and shock training, plyometrics is an advanced training method.

When done correctly, plyometrics will train your body to produce power, meaning both strength and speed. 


When Do You Do Plyometrics?

Suppose you have been active for several months, and your cardiovascular and muscular systems are functioning optimally. In that case, it might be the right time to add in a few explosive plyometric exercises to your routine! As with any new activity, check in with your health care team to make sure this is right for you.

Plyometrics may not be suitable for you if you are pregnant, have joint pain or disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

Again, this is an advanced style of exercise and not for everyone. If you are keen on performing plyometrics, set this as a long-term goal and build your overall fitness level. Then, talk to the experts such as personal trainers, kinesiologists, and physiotherapists before you jump in.


How Do You Do Plyometrics?

  • If you think back to when you played as a child, you likely did a ton of plyometric movements: jumping, hopping, and skipping are all dynamic moves that are mimicked by plyometrics.

Moving quickly from one movement pattern to another, with power and speed, seemed to come naturally to us as children, but it’s not too late to work on these skills.

Many elite athletes use plyometrics to train for their sports, such as basketball, football, and volleyball. These sports require the ability to move explosively, with force, speed, power, and strength in a brief period of time. 

Completing a plyometric exercise also requires the ability to tolerate high and repetitive impacts, so make sure you are fit enough to take this on.

As with any new sport, activity, or workout, take it slow and focus first on technique. Better yet, hire a personal trainer to develop your plyometric training and supervise your performance. It is critical that you complete plyometric exercises using ideal alignment and form. The failure to do so may result in a sidelining injury, or worse. 


What Are The Benefits of Plyometric Exercise?

The benefits of plyometrics are numerous!

  • This workout is a great calorie burner and a way to improve your cardiovascular system.
  • Much of plyometrics engage the lower body, so be prepared for killer legs.
  • Done regularly, you may notice improvements in your metabolism too!
  • By completing a variety of plyometric exercises, you may improve your agility, coordination, and balance.
  • If you compete in a sport, even recreationally, the addition of plyometrics to your training may enhance your sports performance and perhaps even more goals!
  • Adding plyometric exercises one to three days a week adds the needed challenge for your body and variety for your mind. 


How to Start Plyometrics?

Let’s take a look at some excellent and high-intensity plyometric exercises and the areas of the body that they will target.

  • It’s important to remember your own limits, so evaluate your coordination, strength, and health before engaging in these exercises.
  • It’s a sound idea to try each exercise without the elements of speed and strength; take it low and slow, to begin with, so that you can help to prevent any injuries. 


Examples of Plyometric Exercises

Plyometric Jump Squats

You may already be doing squats and lunges in your workout.

  • To ramp these up to plyometrics, add a jump between each repetition, using your arms to build momentum.
  • Once you can jump successfully between each repetition, try adding more height to your jump.
  • Your next step is to add more speed (less time) between each repetition. 

Plyometric Jumping Jacks

  • Another great exercise is to convert the ‘step jack’ done in most warm-up sessions to a jumping jack—work toward adding more height and more speed. 
  • Remember to bend your knees slightly; this will help you add power to your jump and protect your knees.

Plyometric Spiderman Lunges

  • Have you mastered the core busting plank?
  • Take it to a new level by converting it to a spiderman lunge.
  • This exercise is also known as mountain climb; one of my personal favorites as it targets my whole body and gets my heart racing!


What Happens After You Do Plyometrics?

After you have done a few sessions of plyometrics, you may experience muscle soreness.

  • If this is minimal and not restricting your daily activities, treat yourself to some well-deserved relief and recovery.
  • If the pain is significant, or if you cannot complete your daily activities such as making your bed, or moving about freely, seek medical attention right away.
  • Self-massage using massage roller sticks is a fantastic way to ease muscle tension, reduce aches and pains, and improve your circulation. Taking action when it comes to your recovery keeps you ready for action!

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