Plyometrics is a way to develop explosive power, and it works in building strength, speed and agility. (Thomas Brown / Staff)
I could try to provide a literal translation of how the term "plyometrics" breaks down from the Greek roots. But in a nutshell, plyometrics is a way to develop explosive power, and it works in building strength, speed and agility. It emphasizes posture, balance, flexibility, stability and mobility. What you read today will give you only a small glimpse of this mode of training and its utility.
Plyometrics can comprise its own workout or make up a small part of another workout. The very basics:
• If plyometric drills are the focus of your workout, then make sure to integrate warm-up and cool-down exercises just as in any other workout.
• You will be working on explosion, so prior to the workout, dynamic stretching is a must.
• As you raise the intensity of a plyometric exercise, lower the number. The exercises on this page use body weight.
• Never do plyometrics when you are fatigued. You need to focus on technique and explosion.
• Ask someone knowledgeable to help assess your ability and limitations and to help figure out what will work best for you.
A few examples:
These are the essential plyometrics.
Box jump: Start with a box height appropriate to your ability.
• Face the box, standing three-fourths to one arm length away.
• Execute a quick flexion into a semisquat, arms back; and
• Immediately explode into a jump, throwing the arms forward and up, landing on top of the box and standing to a full upright position.
• You can step off or jump off, but reset yourself for the next repetition.
Knee-tuck jump: Execute this on a resilient surface — something durable with a little spring — indoors or outdoors.
• Get in a comfortable stance with palms down across the chest, giving you a target for your knees.
• Rapidly go to a one-fourth squat and explode upward, driving your knees high and attempting to touch them to your hands. Your legs will hit almost a 90-degree angle.
• When you land, repeat the sequence with minimal time in contact with the ground.
Single-leg stride jump: This exercise will add power to your bike riding. Use a workout bench.
• Stand to one side of the bench with your inside foot on top of the bench.
• Start with an upward movement of the arms, an initial push with both legs but then really power up with the foot on the bench, jumping as high as possible.
• Repeat the action as soon as the foot of the outside leg touches the ground. Try for minimal time and force on the ground.
Skips and hops
Skips are excellent for developing your stride, and hops build speed and power in the legs and hips.
Fast skipping. Skip (like you learned in kindergarten) as quickly as possible with good rhythm. Drive the knee up and forward. Do not emphasize stride distance but controlled speed.
Side hop and sprint: Use a low bench, a heavy punching bag or a low hurdle to hop over. Multiple participants can race.
• Stand on one side, feet together, facing along the axis of the obstacle.
• Hop sideways back and forth over the obstacle for a designated number of hops.
• Land on the last hop in a sprint posture and sprint a designated distance (usually 5-10 meters).