Explosive squat leaps, swift high knees, and strong burpees are probably the first things that come to mind when you hear the word “plyometrics.” But when it comes to plyometric workouts, those well-known motions are just the beginning. FTR, these exercises can be beneficial additions to anyone’s fitness program.
Shape enlisted Bianca Vesco , a NASM-certified personal trainer and fitness instructor in Nashville, to break down and demonstrate nearly a dozen of the best plyometric exercises that will make you feel like the collegiate athlete of your fitness dreams. This will help you spice up your workouts when those well-known moves start to feel boring. Vesco also provides a concise explanation of what plyometric workouts comprise, their main advantages, and how to incorporate these exhilarating exercises into your fitness program in a safe and efficient manner.
AN OUTLINE OF PLYOMETHIC EXERCISES Here’s a quick review in case you’re not familiar with the unusual exercise method: Plyometric workouts are those that require your muscles to exert their maximal force in a brief period of time, according to Bianca Vesco , a personal trainer and fitness instructor in Nashville who is NASM-certified. Research shows that you’ll employ the stretch-shortening cycle to generate as much force as you can. Your muscles elongate to build up potential energy (the eccentric phase) during this combination of eccentric and concentric contractions, then quickly contract to release this energy (the concentric phase).
The main objective? Vesco claims that you should exercise to boost power, strengthen your heart, and enhance sports performance. But she adds that plyometric workouts can also be helpful for people who aren’t athletes yet want a quick but powerful workout. I’m a big supporter of being able to work much harder, exert more energy, and have greater power in a lot less time, she says.
According to Vesco, plyometric workouts typically entail jumping (thus the term “jump training” for the workout style), leaping, bounding, or rapidly changing directions, so it’s not surprising that the movements are high-intensity and high-impact. She adds that they are also primarily powered by and concentrated on your lower body. She says, “Your legs are the biggest muscular group in your body, and you essentially carry your whole life on them. “However, using your upper body to add explosiveness is really difficult. In that regard, we are a little disproportioned.” Just contrast a plyometric push-up with a jump squat. According to Vesco, it is typically more simpler to lower into a squat, drive into your palms, and then firmly press up until your hands momentarily lift off the floor than it is to lower into a push-up, drive into your palms, and then powerfully press up. She emphasizes that even powerful, upper-body exercises like thrusters and dumbbell snatches rely on the power from your legs to help generate some momentum.
Regardless of the precise action, plyometric workouts are often performed only utilizing your body weight because, even if you’re an athlete, adding more load doesn’t have any functional (relative to normal movement) benefit. According to Vesco, increased resistance can actually make injuries more likely. She advises against it, “I would suggest.” “When are you going to jump onto anything while holding a weight, for instance, if you’re performing a weighted box jump? There isn’t a scenario that comes to mind where you would actually need to accomplish it.”
INCLUDING PLYOMETRIC EXERCISES IN YOUR ROUTINE: HOW TO DO IT Plyometric exercises shouldn’t be randomly introduced to your exercise routine due to its high-impact, high-intensity nature. Instead, you should read up on (and actually apply) these suggestions to make sure you avoid injuries and get in a good workout.
FIRST CHECK YOUR LEVEL OF FITNESS Prior to adding the song “Jump” by Kriss Kross to your playlist, you should first perform a few simple plyometric drills. To test whether your joints are prepared for the high-impact, high-intensity motions, try executing a few rounds of high knees, jumping jacks, and skaters, advises Vesco. Do your feet, ankles, knees, and joints feel okay? you should ask yourself, she advises. The main disadvantage of plyometric exercises is their high impact nature, which gives a lot of possibility for harm if your body is not yet prepared for it.
While some discomfort is normal when tackling a challenging round of plyometrics, pain is another matter. If you have sudden pain anywhere, especially near your joints, or if you continue to feel out of breath even after rest breaks, press pause. However, if you only feel a slight tightness in your muscles, it can be a good idea to incorporate some quick warm-up exercises into your plyometrics routine.
Then, if you are at ease with such motions, you might be prepared to incorporate plyometric activities into your training program. Not certain To find out where to begin, get in touch with a licensed personal trainer who specializes in fitness.
PRIORITY #1: CONTROL Speed and power should be neglected when practicing plyometric workouts at first until you have mastered body control during these high-impact movements, advises Vesco. You can improve your form and lower your chance of injury by doing this.
PLACE STRATEGIC PLYOMETRIC EXERCISES THROUGHOUT YOUR WORKOUT Your fitness objectives will determine exactly when you should incorporate plyometric activities into your normal regimen, according to Vesco. She advises saving your favorite plyometric exercises for a “burnout” at the end of your training session if you’re determined to increase strength and lift heavier objects. She cautions that if you start your workout with them, you’ll expend all of your energy on exercises that may not be directly contributing to your fitness objectives.
On the other hand, you are free to begin your workouts with plyo if your goal is to increase your stamina. Plyometric exercises should be performed when you have the most energy, adds Vesco, if athletic performance and cardiovascular health are your primary goals. Or, she continues, think about mixing them into your HIIT or Tabata sessions on days when you simply want a sweaty, intense workout.
SELECT FROM TIME- OR REP-BASED SETS Uncertain as to whether to conduct plyometric exercises for time or reps? Vesco advises picking a set structure that feels the most comfortable for your body because there isn’t just one “optimal” way to do it. For instance, she suggests performing eight to ten repetitions of a single-leg deadlift, followed by 30 seconds of a single-leg hop, a plyometric exercise that balances out the strength-training exercise. Alternately, you could perform 12 hops after 30 to 1 minute of those deadlifts. There is only one way to do something, she claims, and that approach must be what works for you.
DO NOT IGNORE YOUR FEET Surprise: During plyometric activities, your feet play a crucial role in keeping you secure. Vesco asserts that when you leap, the landing is where there is the most chance for error. As a result, you must be extremely careful to land on your entire foot, including all four corners. “Your inner and outer ankles, knees, and hips will be the sources of your stability. And you really concentrate on squeezing the four corners of your foot to activate the adductors and abductors, the muscles that maintain the stability of your lower body.” Making the right footwear choices can also keep your joints secure and protected. Vesco advises choosing a shoe with an ankle support for stability while you move from side to side and is made for HIIT or jump training.
REMAIN CURRENT WITH THE GAME Although it’s simple to lose focus throughout your workout and start obsessing on your lunch, Vesco advises against doing plyometric exercises carelessly. People scratching their shins when they jump too high too quickly, when they’re exhausted, or when they’re not paying attention is one of the most common plyometric injuries, according to the expert. “Box jumps or even burpees require you to be extremely attentive to every single minute of your workout. You need to move as intentionally as you can while paying close attention to every part of your body.” As a result, think of your plyometric exercises as a chance to add some mindfulness to your training.
Are you prepared to try out plyometric exercises? Vesco presented and demonstrated her favorite plyometric exercises, which can be altered to meet you where you are in your fitness journey, to aid you in starting your leaping journey. If you want to lessen the impact or simply focus on your form first, she advises choosing smaller hops or doing without the jumps altogether. She continues, “Or, you may slow down the motions to make the workout a little bit easier on the cardio front.”
180 DEGREE TURNS A. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms by your sides, and your abs tight.
B. Drive into your feet and quickly turn 180 degrees to the right to face the opposite direction. To do this, sit back into your hips, bend your knees a few inches, and lower yourself into a little squat.
C. Immediately after landing, drive back into your feet and make a sharp 180-degree rotation to the left to go back to where you started. Continue switching sides, going back to the beginning position after each rep.
ACROSS JUMP A. Position yourself in a hip-width position with your feet, knees, and arms at your sides. core to work.
B. Bend knees even more and quickly swing arms backward before leaping forward with an explosive motion.
C. Softly land with your arms out in front of your chest and your knees bent. Backpedal swiftly to the starting position as you lower your arms to your sides.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your arms at your sides, and your core engaged.
B. Squat down by tucking your lumbar spine into your hips and bending your knees.
C. Lay hands on the ground just inside and in front of your feet. Weight transfer to the hands.
D. Jump feet back to lightly land in a plank posture on the balls of your feet while simultaneously lowering your chest to the floor, as you would at the bottom of a push-up. Head to heels should be in a straight line.
E. Jump feet forward so they land immediately behind hands. Push through hands to lift body off the ground and into plank position.
F. Extend your arms overhead or swing them behind your body as you leap into the air with force. For the next rep, land and instantly lower your back into a squat.
A. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, your arms at your sides, and your core engaged.
B. Raise the left arm and forcefully press the right knee toward the chest.
C. Switch, driving the right arm up and the left knee toward the chest.
D. Keep swiftly switching, pumping the opposing arm with each leg.
JUMP SQUAT A. Place your hands in front of your chest while standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. To lower body into a squat, lean back into your hips and bend your knees.
B. Jump as high as you can by exploding upward and swinging your arms back behind your body. Drive through heels only, never toes. Land softly on your knees, then crouch down while bringing your hands back in front of your chest.
LUNGE SQUAT LUNGE A. Stand with your hands clasped in front of your chest and your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.
B. Keep your chest up and avoid rounding your back by sitting back into your hips and bending your knees to lower yourself until your thighs are equal to or nearly parallel to the ground.
C. Quickly straighten your legs by pressing through your feet, then jump into the air while simultaneously rotating your body to the right. Immediately drop into a lunge after landing with the right foot front and the left foot stretched behind the torso. Reduce your body weight until your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
D. Exit the lunge by pushing into the middle of your right foot while simultaneously rotating your body back to the center.
E. Perform one squat before repeating the lunge to the left. Alternate which leg performs the lunge each time as you go on.
A SINGLE-LEG HOP Right foot front, knee slightly bent; left leg completely stretched behind torso, toes resting on floor. This is known as a split stance. Left hand to ear, right arm fully extended behind body. This is where everything begin.
B. Raise your right hand to your ear, quickly drive your left knee up to your chest, and stretch your left arm behind you. Right away, plant your right foot and leap into the air. For the following rep, gently place your right foot down and bring your left leg back to its starting position.
SKATERS A. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your elbows and knees slightly bent, and your hands in front of your chest.
B. Jump laterally to the right while maintaining your balance on your right leg as your left leg crosses in front of you.
C. Quickly jump to the side to the left, balancing on the left leg as the right leg crosses in front of the left, keeping the right toes off the ground. Repeat while switching sides.
SWITCH JUMP Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.
B. With your right foot, take a big step forward while maintaining an engaged core, a tall chest, and shoulders stacked over your hips. Reduce your body weight until your right thigh is parallel to the ground and your knees are at a 90-degree angle. This is where everything begin.
C. Jump toward the ceiling by lowering yourself 1 to 2 inches to gain velocity. Quickly change feet in the air so the left foot is in front. Land gently and then repeat, switching sides.
BASE JUMP A. Stand with your arms at your sides and your feet hip-width apart.
B. Jump upwards while slightly bending your knees, spreading your legs wide and raising your arms aloft and to the side.
C. Quickly reverse the motion of the arms and legs, then lightly land.
A TUCK JUMP is performed while standing with the hands clasped in front of the chest and the feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
B. Keeping your chest up and keeping your back from rounding, sit back into your hips and bend your knees to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor, or nearly so.
C. Jump as high as you can while swinging your arms and tucking your knees into your chest, pressing through your feet explosively as you exhale.
D. For the following rep, softly land and rapidly drop into a squat.