Plyometric training is often thought of as “jump training” because so many of the programs you find online and see on TV involve dozens of high-impact jumping exercises rolled into one painful workout.
This is great for young athletes whose joints are in pristine health, and who are less susceptible to injury, but what about the rest of us?
Is plyometric training worth your time and the injury risk involved?
First, we need to take a look at what “plyometric training” really is …
What Are Plyometrics?
As I mentioned, most people think plyometrics are simply high-impact jumping exercises, but that’s a short-sighted belief. The true definition of plyometrics is:
“Exercise involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles to increase muscle power.”
Plyometrics exercises are all about quick muscles contractions that create power. Well, what is power and why would you want to become more powerful?
Power is defined as “the ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements. The two components of power are strength and speed.”
2 Reasons Why You’d Want to Become More Powerful
Developing more power through plyometrics might not sound like a goal you’d aim for, but there are actually tremendous benefits found when you do train for power.
First, training for power helps activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers. These are the fibers responsible for contracting very forcefully and very quickly. Research has shown that these fast-twitch fibers have a greater ability to strengthen and grow versus slow-twitch fibers.
You can see how this is true just by looking at a sprinter versus a marathon runner. Sprinters are lean but toned — they’ve shaped their bodies using power-building workouts. Marathon runners are lean, but lack the same muscle tone because their workouts focus on developing almost exclusively slow-twitch muscle.
Look at the comparison below and you can see an aesthetic advantage to training for power — you can redefine your body’s shape.
The second advantage to training for power is what happens after your workout is complete. Building up those fast-twitch muscle fibers has a tremendous positive impact on your resting metabolic rate.
In other words, when you train for power, your body goes into calorie-burning overdrive!
More muscle = more calories burned = less body fat storage. That sounds like a pretty nice perk that most people can handle!
How to Start Using Plyometric Workouts
So far we’ve learned that plyometric training doesn’t have to mean jump training — it’s all about quick muscle contractions that build power.
We’ve also learned that power is great for athletes, but is also beneficial in helping anyone redefine the shape of their body and to boost their metabolism.
Next question: How can you get started with some plyometric workouts of your own?
Watch the following video to learn threeplyometric moves that don’t involve any jumping at all …
This workout is designed to achieve the benefits of plyometric training without going through the risks and physical pain of jumping.
Remember, more reps is NOT your goal. You’ll get best results with:
- A relatively small volume (i.e. lower reps and sets)
- More resistance (i.e. to replicate the workload you would do if you were jumping)
- A quick concentric contraction (i.e. to activate your fast-twitch fibers)
- Longer rest between sets (i.e. to let your body recover so that you can perform each set with maximum effort, while not transitioning into a cardiovascular/endurance style workout)
Plyometric Workout Recap
Perform each of the following exercises with maximum effort. This will require some experimentation to find the right weight for you. Start light and work your way up to heavier weights as you feel comfortable.
Take a 1- to 2-minute rest between each set. If you can make it through set after set with less than a minute of rest between sets, then your load likely isn’t heavy enough. Your body should need more recovery time.
- Power Squat with Dumbbells: 3 Sets, 8-12 reps
- Power Walking Lunges: 3 Sets, 8-12 reps per leg
- Power Bulgarian Split Squats: 3 sets, 8-12 reps per leg
Enjoy your no-jump plyometric workout! —Dave Smith
Dave Smith is a professional fitness and weight-loss coach who was chosen as “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013. He shares awesome health and weight-loss tips through his blog and podcast that you can find at makeyourbodywork.com.