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Why Plyometrics Training Works & Techniques to Use

Why Plyometrics Training Works & Techniques to Use 
by J. R. Workman

Plyometrics training has the potential to supply an entire host of physical advantages depending on your capabilities. Benefits of Plyometrics training can stretch anywhere from leaping boosts in speed and ox-like power to greater mobility, improved athletic agility and performance, and better timing/reflexes. Today, we will be explaining some of the reasons why plyometrics training works/is so effective for young athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike and what techniques can be used to make plyometrics training more beneficial. 

“Suppose, for example, that in talking to an athlete... he answered, “Look at my jumping weights.” Go to, you and your jumping weights! What I want to see is the effect of the jumping weights.” – Epictetus, Discourses 

What is Plyometrics?

Plyometrics is a type of physical fitness training characterized by explosive motions where your muscles exert maximum force in as small a time as possible. Plyometric workouts were originally created with the purpose of improving power (also known as speed-strength) and also work phenomenally well for increasing speed and agility too. A couple examples of plyometric exercises include jumping squats and clapping push-ups. The following is the definition of plyometrics according to the Navy SEAL's Physical Fitness Guide:

"Plyometrics... involves explosive types of activities (i.e., jumping onto and down from objects, bounding up and down stairs on one or both feet and high speed sending and receiving) to convert muscle strength to muscle power. Whenever you run, jump, catch or throw, you are performing a plyometric movement... Plyometric exercises help to develop explosive strength and speed in fast twitch muscle fibers. These exercises use the inherent stretch-recoil properties of muscle (i.e., eccentric tension generated when the muscles are lengthened) to enhance subsequent shortening or concentric contractions. This is the dynamic action behind the rapid prestretch or “cocking” phase to “activate” these natural recoil properties. Examples of this phase include taking the arm back into position prior to throwing a baseball or bending the knees prior to jumping. Thus athletes that rely on explosive strength and speed... include plyometrics in their training programs." (The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide Edited by Patricia A. Deuster)

Plyometrics Makes Conventional Calisthenics More Challenging 

As mentioned previously on this website plyometrics training can be used to make conventional strength calisthenics exercises such as pistol squats or regular pushups more difficult by transforming them into explosive or plyometric exercises such as jumping/explosive pistol squats or clap pushups and this will help to improve both your strength and power simultaneously unlike conventional strength calisthenics exercises which primarily elevate strength performance only. 

Incorporate Objects & Obstacles to Increase Difficulty 

If you desire to raise the difficulty level of plyometric exercises you can accomplish this by using objects that you can spring onto or over if you are doing explosive push-up variations or to jump onto or hop over if you are doing explosive leg work. 

A similar method that you can use to make plyometric exercises tougher is to start using objects to make the movements a greater challenge to pull off. For instance, you can try performing plyometric staggered push-ups with your feet elevated on top of a box to try to add more resistance to the movement or you can prepare a higher box to put your feet on and have two lower boxes prepared below it that you can put your hands on top of and you can do explosive push-ups while going down deeply in-between the two boxes. Practicing this will deepen the range of motion and ultimately the wider apart the two lower boxes are and your hand placement is the broader the range of motion you are going to have.

By the way, the same principles that apply to upper body plyometric exercises also apply to plyometric leg exercises. To give an example, you can perform explosive pistol squats on top of a box so that when you go down you can go down lower than you typically would if you were standing on ground level, thereby creating a much deeper range of motion. You can also place one foot on one box and one foot on a separate box which will allow you to squat lower when doing jumping squats and if you want to broaden the range of motion you just spread the two boxers wider apart. 

Utilize Unilateral Exercises  

It is also good to note that there is no commandment in plyometrics that decrees that you cannot do unilateral or one-sided/one-armed or one-legged explosive/plyometric exercises. If you were previously unaware of the possibility of doing unilateral plyometric exercises or the idea had never entered your mind before then this should come as fantastic news to you because doing this will also make the exercise harder to perform and will take you to new heights that would be impossible without implementing this brilliant change. Keep in mind that only intermediary or advanced plyometrics practitioners should complete these sort of exercises and beginners should avoid them entirely due to them having a higher risk of injury when it comes to these type of techniques. 

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Deuster , Patricia A. “The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide.” The Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Guide.