What is plyometrics?
Plyometrics (or simply plyos) is a type of exercise that aims to improve both strength and speed (power).
Plyometrics is sometimes called jump training; however, it should be noted that plyometrics is not restricted to only jumping-based exercises, even though they are the most common plyometrics exercises.
A concentric contraction performed immediately after an eccentric contraction can produce greater force than a concentric contraction performed alone. This concept is known as stretch-shortening and is fundamental to plyometrics.
To take advantage of this elastic energy, the concentric contraction must occur immediately after the eccentric contraction.
For example, when performing a jump squat:
- the participant starts the exercise by squatting down from a standing position (eccentric contraction of the quadriceps femoris group of muscles);
- they then jump explosively out of the squat position (concentric contraction of the quadriceps);
- after landing from the jump the participant squats down immediately to perform the next repetition; and
- so on until they complete their set.
Examples of plyometrics exercises
Here are just a few examples of common plyometrics exercises:
- box jumps;
- depth jumps;
- jump squats; and
- plyometric push-ups (often called a plyo push-up).
Some of the most popular equipment for plyometrics training includes:
- plyometric boxes (often called plyo boxes) – available here (Gym and Fitness) and here (SMAI);
- hurdles – available here (SMAI); and
- medicine balls (weighted balls) – available here (Gym and Fitness) and here (SMAI).
We highly recommend using padded boxes and hurdles, as this greatly reduces the potential risk and severity of injury.
Who would benefit from plyometrics training?
Anyone that wishes to increase their explosive strength could benefit from incorporating some plyometrics training.
However, given the rapid stretch-shortening of the muscle tissue, it is particularly important that participants use correct exercise technique. Given the explosive nature of plyometrics exercises, beginners should only participate in plyometrics training under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
Training for athletes
Plyometrics training is particularly beneficial for athletes that require explosive strength, in sports such as:
- tennis; and
Article image credit: Sgt. Melissa Marnell, United States Marine Corps.