We talked about plyometrics in our strength training class last semester. There's a lot of information about plyos on the internet, and unfortunately not all of it was accurate. Today I thought I'd share the basics of plyometrics.
First off, there's a few safety things you should be aware of when it comes to plyos.
- If you're a beginner when it comes to exercise, plyos aren't for you. You need a decent base of fitness before starting to do plyometrics.
- It might seem silly, but you have to know how to land correctly. Because you're putting so much force through your joints, it's important to know how to land in a way that won't cause injuries.
- Along with landing, balance is also another important factor. If your balance isn't very good, it's better to skip plyos.
- Your weight should also be factors in deciding if plyos are for you. Being overweight puts a lot more stress on your joints when you're doing plyos, which isn't worth the added risk of injury.
- In addition, you should also make sure that you have a pair of good shoes. Shoes aren't the place to save money if they'll be used for plyos.
- It's always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program, including plyometrics.
And now onto the basics of plyos. Every plyometric movement is made up of three phases – eccentric, ammortization, and concentric.
Eccentric phase // This involves preloading the muscles.
Amortization // This is the time between the eccentric and concentric phases. The shorter this phase is, the more force is created.
Concentric phase // This is release of the stored energy.
To illustrate the above phases, let's think of someone jumping. The eccentric phase is when the person flexes at the ankles, knees and hips, preparing for the jump (they crouch down slightly). The amortization phase is the transition from eccentric to concentric phases. The concentric phase is when the ankles, knees, and hips are extended, resulting in the feet leaving the floor and the body moving upwards.
In terms of where to put plyos in your workout, they should be the first thing you do after warming up properly. Plyometrics tax your neuromuscular system quite a bit just like any other power based workout, so you want to make sure that it's in good shape when you start doing plyos in a workout. You also need 48 to 72 hours of rest between plyo workouts. Plyometric based workouts shouldn't last more than 30 minutes. After that your form in compromised because you're tired and your risk of injury goes way up.
Here are a few plyometric exercises you can do:
- Tuck jumps or squat jumps
- Depth jumps (jumping off a box to the floor or off a box to the floor and up onto another box)
- Chest passes with a medicine ball
- Clapping push ups
Like I mentioned above, it's always important to discuss any changes with your fitness routine with your doctor. Plyos aren't for everyone, and if the risk of injury is too high it's just not worth it. You're better off to avoid them completely.
Have you tried plyometrics before? What's your favorite plyo exercise?