Welcome to Friday folks! This weekend I am going to start incorporating more HIIT training into my regimen (hopefully you will too!) In the spring and summer months when it is lighter earlier and the weather is nicer, I love going to the local track and completing a sprint workout early on a Saturday morning or I will finish my morning lift with plyometric training. I really like plyos because they are challenging, force me to work outside my comfort zone and provide a solid workout that my body is not accustomed to doing.
Plyometrics aka plyos or “jump training” is a form of training that requires the muscles to exert force in a short period of time to increase speed, power, and overall explosiveness. Many athletic programs especially sports such as the high jump, basketball and volleyball use this type of training in the off season to develop the previously mentioned goals.
Plyo’s are a great conditioning tool that rapidly stretches the muscles (eccentrically) before rapidly shortening the muscles (concentrically). For example, jumping causes the quads to undergo the stretch-shortening (eccentric-concentric ) cycle which can help develop and strengthen those muscles involved in the movements. Not only are plyo’s beneficial for your muscles but also your tendons, bones, and nervous system! So get to jumpin.
With any workout program, make sure you are healthy and able to start a regimen and always check with a doctor if you need. When it comes to plyometrics, there are some precautions to take before jumping on board. Plyometrics are intense. You will be putting a lot of load on your muscles, joints and tendons so take it easy at first and make sure you have built up your strength and flexibility first through weight training. Focus on performing the exercises in a controlled manner and get used to the movement before you go “balls to the wall”. Definitely do not want anyone injuring themselves! Always warm up before any training session and allow yourself to rest in between plyometric workouts, just as you would between weight lifting sessions. I usually incorporate plyos in once maybe twice a week for my conditioning. When it comes to sets and reps, go at your own pace and know your limits. Typically, I shoot for 3 sets of 15-20 reps and cycle through exercises. I will rest for about a minute between sets or a little bit longer if I need.
Here are my favorite plyometric exercises and since I am ready to get after it, this is what my workout will look like tomorrow morning!
- Box jumps- Stand facing a secure box or bench. Jump onto the box and immediately jump back down into the starting position. Repeat.
- Skaters- Cross your left leg behind your right leg as you bend your right knee into a half-squat position (just like a speed skater would). Extend your right arm out to the side, and swing your left arm across your hips. Hop a few feet directly to the right, switching the position of your legs and arms. That's one rep. Continue hopping from side to side without pausing.
- Plank Shuffle- Start in the Pushup position. Place left hand on top of a medicine ball with your right hand on the floor (as if you were going to perform a pushup). Keeping your back flat and core tight, push your upper body up so that your right hand is now on top of the medicine ball and your left hand is on the floor. Immediately shift your upper body back to the original side and continue to repeat. **picture from menshealthmag.com
- Split Jumps-Stand with your feet in lunge position (staggered stance) with your left foot in front of your right. Lower your body into the lunge. Quickly jump up and scissor-kick your legs so that you land with your right leg forward. As soon as your feet land, lower your body into a lunge. That's one rep. **picture from womenshealthmag.com
- Lateral Box Hops- Stand with feet on either side of a low bench or box. Squat down, then explode off the ground, landing in a squat with both feet on the step and knees slightly bent on top of the bench. Hop back down into a squat with feet on either side of the bench. Repeat. **picture from womenshealthmag.com
- Jump rope- I like to finish off with jump roping because it is an awesome cardiovascular tool! Have you ever noticed how little kids can go forever?! I will perform 30 sec slow with 30 sec fast then switch to 30 seconds hopping on my right leg and switch to 30 seconds on my left leg. Be creative and have fun with your jump rope! It really is a killer workout!