What are plyometrics, and why should you care about plyometrics?
Plyometrics are explosive exercises that can help to improve your performance in all sports that require sprinting, jumping, and change of directions. Examples include box jumps, explosive push-ups, and other exercises that I’ll discuss later in this article, but it’s important to note that what makes plyometric exercises different from other exercises is that they train the stretch-shortening cycle.
So you’re probably thinking, “Ok, but what exactly does that mean?” Valid question. The stretch-shortening cycle is characterized by a rapid deceleration of a mass followed almost immediately by rapid acceleration of the mass in the opposite direction (i.e. stopping and starting which takes place on every athletic field, regardless of the sport). Performing plyos during your training sessions will help increase your power, explosiveness and quickness, which are all related to improving how you perform in the stretch-shortening cycle.
Now that you know what you’re training when you perform plyos, it’s important to know where they fit into your program. These explosive exercises should be performed at the beginning of workouts while you’re fresh as the quality of each rep (which should be done at max effort) is far more important than quantity.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what a plyo is and how it should be performed, let’s take a look at 6 basic plyometric exercises, 3 lower body and 3 upper body, that will help train your fast twitch muscle fibers and make you more powerful and more explosive.
The squat jump is about as basic as it gets, but it’s a great way to build lower body power. Start with your feet in squat position (between hip width and shoulder width). Place your hands behind your head and start in an upright position. To start, simply squat down and then explode up as fast and as high as you can. As you land, immediately go back into a squat and explode back into the air. Perform between 2-3 sets and 6-8 reps with at least 90 seconds of rest time between sets. Remember to perform each rep with maximum effort.
1 Leg Box Blast
This plyometric exercise also focuses on lower body power, but emphasizes one leg at a time. To begin, place your right foot completely on the box in an elevated position. This is your drive leg. Your arms will be at your sides and will be used to help you jump. Once you’re in ready position, drive yourself into the air as high as you can by using your right foot on the box. You can throw your arms up to help create more speed and force and make sure to control your body in the air so that you land back on the box in the same position you left. As soon as your right leg touches the box and your left leg hits the ground perform another rep. Perform the reps as fast as you can with maximum effort each time. Perform between 2-3 sets and 5 reps each leg with 90 seconds of rest between each set.
Kneeling Hip Extension
Begin this exercise with your knees on a mat or soft surface and the top half of your body extended up straight. You will be holding onto a medicine ball with your hands and your toes should be curled into the ground. Quickly drop your butt back to your heels, and push through your toes and knees to extend your hips. As your hips extend, your arms should extend as you release the medicine ball. Imagine yourself jumping out from your knees in this drill and make sure that you’re throwing the medicine ball with your hips and legs, and not your arms. Return to the starting position for each rep and make sure you bring your butt back to your heels to start each rep. Perform 2-3 sets of 6 reps.
Seated Chest Pass
This plyometric exercise focuses on upper body power. Begin in a seated position with your legs out straight and your feet 6 inches from the wall. Make sure to sit up nice and tall and hold that position for the entire set. Using a medicine ball, start with your arms extended in front of you holding onto the ball and then bring the medicine ball back to your chest and extend your arms again as fast as you can as you throw the ball against the wall. Make sure to catch it off of the wall with your arms extended and then bring it back to the chest and extend your arms to throw the medicine ball again. Perform 2-3 sets and 12-15 reps as fast as you can, making sure to extend the arms each and every rep.
Medicine Ball Push Ups
To perform this plyometric exercise, start in a regular push up position with your hands on top of a medicine ball and your chest situated directly over the top of the ball. To begin, simply take your hands off of the ball and let them drop to the ground as your chest makes contact with it. As soon as your chest makes contact use your arms to push up and explode off of the ground and return your hands to the top of the medicine ball where they started with your arms completely locked out. Perform 2-3 sets and 8 reps as fast and as powerful as you can.
Medicine Ball One Arm Push Ups
To begin, start in push up position with your right hand on top of a medicine ball. Perform this plyometric exercise by doing a push up and focusing on your arm that is elevated on the ball. Push with that arm as hard as you can as you try and extend it so that you float above the ball. As soon as your hand makes contact with the medicine ball again and your opposite hand makes contact with the ground, perform another rep as fast as you can. Keep the ball close to your shoulder to prevent injury and don’t go lower than the medicine ball with your chest. Perform 2-3 sets of 5 reps on each arm.
And that’s it! These 6 basic plyometric exercises can help you begin to develop more power and explosiveness. Remember that it’s quality over quantity with these plyometric exercises and that you should perform each rep with maximum effort. Good luck and train hard.
And 1R, should you want safe, NCAA-legal pre-workout supplement options to aid you while participating in these plyometric drills, we at OneResult recommend the following supplements: