With summer just around the corner, we all want to lose those last kilos and get our bodies in top shape. Crossfit exercises , Tabata, HIIT, Hula Hoop, etc. – the fitness world is very diverse and there is something for everyone. But just when we think we already know and have tried all possible training methods, another new one comes along. Jumping, running and performing multiple exercises as quickly and dynamically as possible – plyometric training is becoming increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts. This is a special form of jumping strength training and the dynamic movements are said to improve our strength and coordination and promote fat loss. Classic strength training is not for you and running on the treadmill for several dozen kilometers do you find boring? Then you could try something completely new and challenge your muscles in a new way! What exactly is plyometric training and what are the best plyometric exercises to include in your workout routine? We’ll reveal all that and much more below!
Plyometric training, also still known as jumping strength training, involves dynamic side-to-side, up-and-down, and forward-and-backward movements that are designed to increase our explosive power. This is that strength that makes us react in seconds. If we want to lose weight, hours of cardio sessions may be the first thing that comes to mind. While this is not the worst idea and most definitely better than nothing, it is not the best either. In order for us to define our bodies, we need to not only burn fat, but also build muscle. And that’s where plyometric training comes in – the exercises with jumping power stimulate the metabolism and train several muscle groups at the same time. However, getting up every morning and going to the gym can be very tiring for most people. The best thing about plyometric exercises? You don’t need any special equipment to do them, and they’re best suited for a quick yet effective home workout!
What is plyometric training?
Plyometric training was originally developed in the 1970s by Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky, who is known as the “father of plyometrics,” as a form of training for the Soviet Olympic team. A few years later, American Fred Will was so impressed with the athletes’ performance that he implemented the training method among his athletes in the United States. While it was initially used mainly by martial artists and gymnasts, nowadays plyometric training is becoming very popular among more and more fitness enthusiasts. Unlike classic strength training with slow movements to increase muscle mass, plyometric exercises are based on fast and explosive movements. The technique activates the central nervous system and aims to improve two important abilities of muscles – their strength and dynamism. Activation of fast-twitch muscle fibers leads to fast and efficient muscle growth.
The basis of plyometric training is the so-called stretch-shorten cycle (DVZ), i.e. the lengthening of muscles followed by sudden and rapid shortening. The workout is mostly based on pure dead weight exercises such as push-ups , squats and lunges – of course in an explosive and dynamic version. The exercises with bounce train several muscle groups at the same time, which ensures a balanced full-body workout. The fast execution of the exercises also promotes fat loss. When we exercise at maximum intensity for 30 to 40 seconds, our body has to work hard to recruit the muscle fibers it needs to perform properly.
Who are plyometric exercises suitable for and how often should we do them?
Everyone who is actively involved in sports has performed plyometric exercises – jumping jacks, for example. Movements with spunge elements are also often a part of HIIT workouts . Plyometric training requires an enormous amount of power and strength and would therefore be less suitable for beginners. The high load on the musculoskeletal system and the insufficient knowledge as well as the wrong technique can lead to serious injuries. It is recommended to approach the training method slowly. A certain amount of stamina should be present as well. For example, as soon as you can do clean squats, you can start doing jumping squats. The ligaments, joints and tendons must also be healthy. So for overweight people or people recovering from surgery, the workout is off limits.
Because of the increased intensity, this is definitely not the type of workout you should be doing on a daily basis. After all, muscles need some time to recover. There are a few ways you can incorporate plyometric exercises into your workout routine.
- Swap out some traditional strength training exercises for a more dynamic variation. If push-ups are a regular part of your workout, do plyo push-ups instead.
- Forgo boring cardio sessions and do a 30-minute plyometric workout instead. It’s more fun and burns almost twice as many calories.
How do plyometric exercises benefit you?
You wonder what this bouncing up and down brings? Quite a lot! Plyometric training is virtually an all-rounder for our fitness. It improves coordination, jumping and quickness, stability, balance, mobility and explosiveness. It also strengthens tendons and ligaments, making us less prone to injury in the long run. Through plyometric exercises, our body learns to use its strength efficiently and as a result, we last longer. This can especially benefit runners and athletes who train basketball, volleyball or boxing. The functional movements work the entire body and activate several muscle groups at the same time, making this form of exercise an excellent full-body workout. The legs and butt are especially worked, resulting in a toned and beautiful lower body.
Plyometric training exercises
Below, we have compiled some of the best plyometric exercises that you can add to your workout routine. For most of them, you will only need your own body weight. However, if you want to get a real workout and take your workout to the next level, you should get yourself a so-called plyo box or a higher and sturdy box. For a complete workout, choose between 5 and 6 of the following exercises and do a total of 3 rounds.
- Jumping squats, also still known as squat jumps or jumping squats, are an essential part of any plyometric workout. The starting position is the classic squat, which you hold in the lowest position for a few seconds. Then use your arms to gain momentum and explosively jump straight up. Softly land back into the squat position and immediately jump again. Start with 8-10 repetitions and slowly work your way up.
- Frog Jumps are another excellent squat variation to get your muscles burning. Squat low and place your feet wide apart. Tighten your abdominals and jump forward as far as you can. Land softly in the squat and jump forward again.
- Lunges with jump are an excellent full-body exercise that will test your endurance. Step back with your right foot and lower your hips down so your legs form a right angle. The left knee is behind the toe. Quickly jump in the air and switch feet so you land with your right leg in front. Quickly jump again and switch sides again – this counts as one repetition. Perform the exercise at your own pace for about 30 seconds.
- Star Jumps – And on to the jumping. Star Jumps are a strenuous variation of the classic Jumping Jacks and are great for an effective plyometric workout. Start in an upright, hip-width stance and squat slightly. Now jump up into the air while simultaneously spreading your arms and legs outstretched. Land back in the squat position and jump again. Do 10 to 12 repetitions.
- Weighted Side Jumps – For this plyometric exercise you will need a medium height box and either a dumbbell or medicine ball. Stand about 50 inches from the crate and hold a dumbbell or the medicine ball above your head with your arms extended. Jump over the box for 30-40 seconds continuously, making sure to keep your back extended.
- Plank Jacks – No plyometric workout would truly be complete without at least one Plank variation. Plank Jacks are a combination of Jumping Jacks and Plank – hence the name. Start in the classic High Plank position and tighten your abdominals. Keep your head and hips in line with the rest of your body and your feet together. Now jumping spread your legs and immediately return to the starting position. During the execution, make sure that the upper body remains as stable as possible.
- In & Out squats is the perfect plyometric exercise to improve your balance and work your thighs. Stand upright at hip width and squat slightly. Your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees stay in line with your toes. From this position, jump into the sumo squat. Jump again and return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise for 30-40 seconds continuously.
- Push-ups with clapping – You have already mastered the classic push-up? Then it’s time to try something new! Start in the classic High Plank position with your hands below your shoulders and your elbows close to your body. Do a push-up, press up, release your hands from the floor and quickly clap them together. Once back in the push-up position, repeat. Perform the exercise 8-10 times as fast as possible.
- Squat with push-up – Squats and push-ups are arguably the most popular strength exercises of all time, and when you combine the two into one movement, you get a real calorie killer! However, the exercise is very strenuous and only suitable for advanced exercisers. Start in the traditional push-up position and quickly push up through your hands. Bring your knees to your chest and land in a deep squat. Hold for 2-3 seconds and jump back into the push-up position. Do a total of 10-12 repetitions.
- Pop-ups push-ups are undoubtedly one of the most difficult plyometric exercises, but they are extremely effective and work all muscle groups simultaneously. Lie on your stomach and place the palm of your hand on the side of your chest. Perform a push-up and quickly jump forward with your right foot and backward with your left foot. Immediately return to the starting position, push up and switch legs – this counts as one repetition. Do a total of 10-12 repetitions per leg.
- Tuck Jumps – Either you love them or you hate them – anyone who has ever done tuck jumps knows how incredibly challenging the exercise is. Unlike regular Squat Jumps, this one pulls your knees to your chest, which in turn exercises and strengthens your core muscles. Stand up straight with your hips hip-width apart and push your hips slightly back and down. Raise your arms and push off the ground with maximum bounce. Now pull your knees toward your chest until you reach the highest point of the jump. Straighten the legs again and land softly in a squat position with the knees bent.