As kids back in the day, we were always in a constant state of motion. We never sat still for too long. We didn’t know it but our bodies were performing an act that our ancestors had been for thousands of years. Hopping, skipping, and jumping are just some of the ways our natural human instincts told us to move. The truth is everyone can benefit from this method of training. Depending on the person’s current level of fitness a variety of exercises can be scaled back or increased in difficulty. Kids and young athletes can use lower intensity exercises to condition the neuromuscular system (mind and body coordination) to improve chances of excelling in athletics. Collegiate and professional athletes have been taking advantage of these secret methods for decades. What are these exercises that have become so popular in recent years? I’m talking about PLYOMETRICS!
Plyometrics are a big part of the Bombshell Fitness training regimen found in our workout programs. Even if you don’t play a sport, plyos can benefit you in a variety of ways. Have you ever done an obstacle course or a 5k? There are numerous plyometric exercises that can help you prepare for the next big race. Adding plyometrics to your training can have a huge impact on your performance during the race and your post-race recovery. We can all benefit from this form of exercise!!
So, let’s take a look at principles and applications of PLYOMETRICS.
HOW IT WORKS
Plyometrics or “plyos” for short, is defined in the book “Jumping into Plyometrics” by Donald A. Chu PhD. as exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible. Without going into a very detailed explanation of muscle physiology I’ll just tell you that our muscles are our only musculoskeletal structures that can lengthen and shorten. Think of this like stretching a rubber band. The more you lengthen (stretch) the band (muscle) the more energy builds up in the muscle. For example if you are doing jump squats you can dramatically increase the power output by increasing the speed at which you make contact with the ground, and explode up again. Try to envision landing on hot coals so your focused on spending the shortest time possible on the ground. Remember jump fast and jump high to develop power & strength.
Plyos can and should be implemented into every athlete’s training regimen regardless of their sport. The specificity of the programmed exercises and their level of intensity determine the end result. In the case of a football player the end goal is to be as explosive and powerful as possible. Adding high intensity plyos such as standing long jumps or double leg hops to a lower body weight training session can improve the players speed and strength on the field. This combination of weights and plyos is called complex training. Plyos can be manipulated to reach goals of accelerated fat loss or building explosive power just by changing the exercises and intensity level.
PLYOS FOR FAT LOSS
Plyos were created to train the neuromuscular system to produce faster firing muscles. Singular explosive acts performed with complete rest between reps focus on quality over quantity, however if we string multiple plyometric exercises together to form a circuit training routine we can increase the cardiovascular stress to accelerate fat loss. It is very important to give your Central Nervous System 2 to 3 days rest between INTENSE plyometric sessions. The higher the normal force placed on the musculoskeletal system is, the more likely it is to lead to overtraining if plyos are performed too often, however plyos performed at a lower intensity level as part of a workout regimen can increase endurance, and burn fat!
REHAB & PREHAB
Plyometrics are used by many strength and conditioning coaches and rehabilitation therapists to help athletes recover from and prevent injuries. Athletes returning to a sport from injury should analyze the movement patterns in their sport. They must apply the proper exercises relating to the movement they will need to perform on their field of play. In the case of the football player using an exercise like depth jumps that develops vertical power would not be as beneficial as the double leg hop that develop horizontal force. The same can be done by all athletes injured or not. Mimicking movements that you will most likely use in your sport will serve to prepare the muscles, ligaments and tendons to react and adapt in game situations.