Plyometrics - how and why

12 October, 2015

Plyometric exercise is a great way to train the body for explosive movements. Plyometrics are often used to increase overall jumping capability, but similar techniques can also be used to train for explosiveness in the upper body. The benefits of plyometric exercises can be applied to most sports, especially to jumping sports like basketball and volleyball. But what exactly are plyometric exercises? How do they work? How can you incorporate them into your workout routine?

Plyometrics use what is called the stretch-shorten cycle reflex. This is when the muscle is stretched and wants to snap back to its starting position. Plyometric exercises increase the starting strength and rate of force production in which this process occurs. This results in a faster take off and a higher jump.

Before incorporating plyometric exercises into your routine it is critical to complete an Ortho-Kinetics® Assessment with a Professional Trainer. The assessment will identify any joint imbalances that may need to be corrected and stabilized before attempting explosive movements. Making sure you have a firm foundation built on stabilization and strength is a prerequisite to any plyometrics program. Remember, plyometrics focus on power. You don't want to try to shoot a cannon out of a canoe!

To incorporate plyometric exercises into your routine, begin with some dynamic stretches that target the area of the body to be exercised. Once you are sufficiently warmed up, perform your plyometric exercises prior to doing any strength work. Choose up to five simple exercises that don't need progression. After 4 to 6 weeks you can start increasing the difficulty of the exercises. Be sure to do them when you are rested and not fatigued, for example, not right after a tough weight workout. Sets and repetitions can vary ranging from 7 sets of 3 to 3 sets of 7. The more sets, the fewer reps, and vice-versa. Always push yourself to jump farther and higher than before. And most important, have fun!

~Tony Locascio, Professional Trainer
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