Have you ever seen people do a bunch of exercises that involve jumping and explosive moves and wondered, “what are those called and why are they doing them?” Some of us wonder, “why would they want to do them?” They look hard and way too much work.
These moves are called plyometrics and are used by athletes to improve speed and power. The extremely quick and powerful moves force muscles to extend and contract explosively. Athletes use plyometrics for sports specific training like baseball, basketball, football, sprinting, etc. Plyometrics are also popular with power athletes, i.e. powerlifters. In all these cases, the plyometric exercises are specifically focused on the speed and/or power they are trying to build. For example, a baseball athlete may work on upper body plyometrics that can help develop more power in their pitch, while sprinters may use more lower body plyometrics to quicken their pace and explosiveness in their running.
Plyometrics for Recreational Athletes
Plyometrics are also great for the everyday athlete like most of us. These exercises can be intense so it’s a good idea to start out slow.
With past plantar fasciitis injuries, I’ve been cautious about including plyos in weekly workouts and am just now learning the proper technique so I can to do these safely. What I’ve discovered is that I’ve needed to build more basic strength in my upper body to do some of the upper body plyometrics. Given my running experience, lower body exercises are much easier for me. Below is a short video showing my slow progress on plyometrics. In this video we also feature my son’s friend, Jace, performing a couple of upper body plyometrics. As a Jiu jitsu athlete, Jace has more upper body strength and performs these exercises with ease.
Learning from the Experts
Now that you’ve had a laugh watching me do some of these plyometric exercises, check out these great sites. They include articles about plyometrics and demonstrate exercises.
Sports & Fitness Advisor
For runners, here is a great article and video series:
Get to It
All of the above sources will get you started on plyometrics. If you want to get serious about doing plyometrics and ensure you are doing the exercises properly, please consult a professional trainer.
My aim is to include these types of exercises twice per week with hopes of improving my racing finish times.
Think about what you want to achieve, select appropriate exercises, and set your target. Your focus and commitment will get you results.