Plyometrics – Leap To Fitness

Plyometrics is not a word that you expect to hear around the water cooler. Plyometrics is a category of exercise that involves quick, powerful movements to develop strength, endurance and agility.  Sometimes called "jump training" because of the many jumps used in plyometric exercises, many coaches and trainers are embracing plyometrics because of its noted success in developing top athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike.

Plyometrics uses the natural cycle of muscle lengthening and shortening to increase strength.  A muscle group is first stretched and then explosively contracted.  Jumping, lunging, bouncing and skipping are all moves common to plymetric exercises. The fast pace and intense movements build cardiovascular capacity, too. To top it off, recent research has shown that this type of exercise can actually strengthen your bones.

Plyometrics are typically done in a circuit training manner, with the athlete working at each station in the circuit intensely for a few repetitions and then moving quickly to the next station without pause. After the entire circuit is completed, a two minute rest break is taken. Then the circuit is repeated.

Here is a typical circuit training approach to plyometrics:

Station 1 – The Skater
This exercise simulates the rapid movements of a speed skater. Stand in a half-crouch, with your right leg behind you and your left leg forward and across your body. Your right hand should be just over your left hip with your left had extended behind you. Hop to your right as you reverse the positions of your arms and legs. You should be mimicking the movements of a skater, although not moving forward. Hop back and forth between the two positions rapidly 10 times.

Station 2 – Modified jumping jacks
Stand comfortably, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms fully extended out to your sides, shoulder high.  Jump slightly as you spread your feet apart (as far as comfortable) as your swing your straight arms in front of you and clap your hands.  Immediately jump back to your original position. Do this 20 times.

Station 3 – Hand plants
Assume a standard push-up position, with your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart and your knees straight. Quickly bring your left hand over to cover your right hand, and then return to your original position. Repeat this move with your right hand. Do this 10 times.

Station 4 – Squat and leap
Start out in a squat position, with your left leg in front, that thigh parallel with the ground and your right leg behind you, calf parallel with the ground. In one swift motion, leap into the air, reaching as high as you can with your hands. As you land, arrange yourself into your original position, but with your foot position reversed. Do this 5 times for each side.

Station 5 – Step hop
This exercise requires an exercise step (the low one that is about 10-12 inches high).  Start with your right foot on the box and your left foot out as far as is comfortable from the box. Hop to your right so that your left foot lands on the step, then let your right foot come down to the floor, again as far as comfortable from the box.  Repeat this 10 times each way.

Try to move from station to station without resting, then give yourself a break after completing the circuit. After a week or two, try to increase the number of circuits, with a 2-3 minute breather between each.  

Remember that exercise is hard enough without trying to go it alone. If you don't have a friend who is ready to join you in your quest for fitness, check out and find a local buddy who shares your interest in better health. Good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment