Plyometrics have been around for a long time. Historically, explosive jumps were used in sports-specific training. These exercises were done at maximum effort at the beginning of the training session and performed at low reps, usually from one to ten. The entire workout was kept short – around 15-20 minutes, because it’s not possible to sustain maximum effort for very long, and the benefits of plyos greatly diminish when the exercises are performed in a fatigued state. For that reason, it’s important to only do them 1-2 times per week and make sure you take enough rest in between exercises to allow you to go all out.
Before we go over the benefits, let’s take a look at how not to perform plyos. If you’re adding jumps in the middle of your workouts, doing more than 10 reps, or performing below maximum effort jumps, you’re doing “jumps for conditioning” - not plyos. While jumps for conditioning might help break up the monotony of lifting, they might not be the best for sculpting an aesthetic physique or for building strength. When you perform jumps in a fatigued state, it may actually train the body to adopt that performance as the norm. Explosiveness and speed can decrease, while chances of injury increase. You’re also more likely to get hurt if you add jumps into your workouts when you’re fatigued. Try to keep the jumps to maximum effort at low reps! Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy:
Speed and power are not just beneficial in sports! You’ll enjoy better coordination and agility, which can help improve all other lifts. Plyos can help increase your overall muscle fiber activation, too. This means that you can also improve your strength in lifts.
Our bodies have both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers. Slow-twitch muscle fibers are great for endurance-related activities. Aerobic activities, like jogging, biking, or high rep training help strengthen slow-twitch fibers. Anaerobic activities strengthen fast-twitch fibers. Some examples include Olympic lifts, sprints, heavy compound movements at low reps, and plyos. If you’re looking to create a more aesthetic, athletic-looking physique, incorporating these movements can help.
Plyos can be used before heavy lifts to improve lifting performance. Since explosive movements increase muscle fiber recruitment, you may be able to lift heavier weights for your one-rep max. Aim for 1-2 plyo exercises before a heavy lift.
Just like muscles, bones and tendons respond to the stress they’re put under. Higher impact training causes the body to adapt. The muscles grow/get stronger, bones become denser, and tendons get stronger. You’ll be stronger overall, be and less prone to injury, and have less risk of osteoporosis when older!
Jumping at maximum effort burns more calories, as you’re training the entire body. Jumps require the engagement of the legs, arms, and core. Even upper body plyos require lower body and core effort. Even though this isn’t a main reason for adding plyos, I don’t know of many people who would object to turning into a fat-burning machine!
Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll go over specific exercises, techniques, and workouts! Before every workout, I take BetaTOR. It helps me keep my intensity high and I don’t feel as sore after a particularly tough workout. Thanks for reading! Until next time, train hard, y’all!
* Before starting any high-intensity/impact training program such as plyometrics be sure to consult a physician.