If you’ve ever watched a P90x or Insanity infomercial, you’ve seen some form of plyometrics. And you’ve probably noticed a few pylo boxes around your gym—if your trainer hasn’t already had you using them! Plyometrics can improve strength, coordination, and balance, while also increasing the number of calories you can burn in a workout. But these types of exercises aren’t right for everyone. If you’re looking for a challenge, it’s important to understand what they are and how to safely incorporate them into your own workouts. Here’s a quick 101.
What does plyometrics mean?
Plyometrics literally means longer (plyo) measures (metrics), and used to be called “jump training.” Plyometrics, sometimes called “plyos,” are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in a short period of time, designed to increase power.
What are plyometric movements like?
Many plyometric movements are simply regular exercises that have been made explosive. Clap push-ups are a great example: You do a regular push-up and then rapidly push yourself off the ground, adding a clap in the air, before coming back down. Other plyometric movements mimic athletic movements. An example would be a lateral hop; this plyo focuses on how quickly and powerfully you leap from side to side and could help you improve your tennis game, for example, as that sport requires a lot of explosive lateral movements.
Can I actually do them?
Yes! But plyos are ballistic and high intensity, requiring a strong foundation—which is why you should proceed with caution. Always perform a dynamic warm-up before your workout. Also, refrain from doing them if you have any orthopedic problems or knee concerns. For more in-depth information, check out this plyometrics article from ACE.
If you’re up for the challenge, get warmed up and then try the exercises below for a great workout!
Sets: 3 sets per exercise
Rest: 60 seconds between sets
• Stand upright facing a box or step, with your arms by your sides.
1 – Dip at the hips and knees into a semi-squat and jump onto the box, driving up with your legs and arms.
2 – Land on the box with both feet and dip at the hips and knees to absorb the impact.
• Step off the box and repeat.
1 – Support your body on your hands and toes, with your elbows bent and your chest nearly touching the floor and one hand on a marker.
2 – Rapidly push up off the floor and to one side with your hands.
3 – Land back on the floor, lowering your chest back down with the other hand on the marker.
• Stand upright with your arms by your sides.
1 – Dip at the hips and knees into a semi-squat.
2 – Jump high into the air, driving up with your arms and bringing your knees into your chest.
• Land with both feet and dip at the hips and knees to absorb.
1 – Stand upright with one foot on a step, with your arms at your sides.
2 – Push off the top foot and drive up with your arms, coming up off the step and switching your feet in the air.
3 – Land with the other foot on the step.
1 – Stand upright on a step with one foot ready to step off.
2 – Step off and land on the ground with both feet, dropping into semi-squat
3 – Immediately jump up as high as you can into the air, using your arms to propel you up.
4- Land in semi-squat to absorb and repeat.
1 – Support your body on your toes and hands with your elbows bent and your chest nearly touching the floor.
2 – Explosively push up and off the floor, clapping your hands as you come up.
• Drop your hands back down and lower your body back to the start position and repeat.
1 – Start in a semi-squat position on one foot with your hips and knees bent and your arms by your sides.
2 – Push off this foot, jumping laterally to one side about 3 to 4 feet.
3 – Land in a semi-squat position on the other foot and immediately jump back to the starting side.