Ever see those guys at the gym jumping up and down on boxes, or hopping back and forth over cones. Turns out they’re doing it for more than just the attention. These exercises, known as plyometric exercises, are some of the best for taking your training to the next level.
What is plyometric exercise?
Plyometric exercises, also known as “jump exercises” or “plyos,” are exercises that demand a rapid series of intense muscle exertions.
Box jumps, squat jumps, burpees and plyometric, or clap, pushups are just a few examples of this variety of workout. This type of exercise provides results if you are looking to improve either your speed or power, by tasking your muscles completely and repeatedly.
How it works
There are two reasons why plyometric exercises are so effective. The first has to do with the length of muscle exertion. Plyometric exercise requires short bursts of action, which in turn, require very swift muscle contraction. As far as the body is concerned, the quicker the contraction, the more energy produced—and the better the results at the end of the day.
The second reason has to do with the range of motion. Plyometrics are designed to maximize the benefits of concentric contraction. Concentric contraction is a term that describes muscle contraction in its fullest, least adulterated form—contraction that begins when a muscle is loose, limber and stretched out to its fullest possible length.
Before each jump, plyo-pushup or hurdle, your muscles return to this loose, stretched out state, which maximizes their potential for energy exertion. When these loose muscles are finally engaged—in the physical jump—they contract completely, and about as effectively as possible.
How they’re done
There are tons of different plyometric exercises out there. Some are designed for sprinters, and others for point guards—the key is finding those that fit your needs. Seek expert consultation to know exactly which are right for you, and how they can be done properly to effect the changes you desire.
Plyometric exercise puts you at a higher risk of injury. The exercises are dangerous if performed incorrectly, and can cause injury if overused.
It is important to remember that these exercises are not for anyone who is out of shape, or who has been inactive long. They are not recommended for anyone overweight, pregnant, afflicted by diabetes- related nerve damage, arthritis, bone injury or joint problems.
If you think that you can handle these intense exercises, seek out an expert to make sure you are doing the right ones, the right way, and then take it slow from there. Start with a few exercises once a week, and then work more of them into your routine thereafter.