Don’t you just love it when Spiderman is jumping from one building to another? I used to enjoy watching spidey in action and thought I could also swing from one building to another in a second. Spiderman was an expert at plyometrics. If you thought stomach vacuum exercises are new, here comes plyometrics!
This is a form of exercise that involves a lot of jumping. A whole lot of jumping! So much that it is also known as jump training. The training focuses on plyos which is essentially just the exercises which force the muscles to exert maximum pressure.
The pressure is exerted in such a short duration that the individual is trained to increase their speed-strength. The exercise is focused on learning the movements from a muscle extension to contraction in a rapid manner. The repeated jumping is in a specialized manner that the individual is accustomed to increasing power.
What Is Plyometrics?
When Charles Darwin declared his theory of “survival of the fittest” he would not have known that the world would take it so seriously. His theory focused on the natural selection process where an organism from a species can adapt to the changing environment and thus, is “fit” for survival.
With high focus on increasing physical activity, it seems that the theory has been twisted to fit the narrative of physical fitness. No, I am not against fitness, but forceful fitness and pushing someone to be fit when they might have already tried everything is just cruel.
Anyway, coming back to the topic, it is important that one pursues fitness as a passion and not forcefully. I believe it takes away from the activity. The exercise is a part of several athletics, such as sprinters, runners, and high jumpers. The exercise is mainly used by these athletes and sports people to improve their performance.
The fitness field however, does not employ this activity to enhance performance as it can rely on bodyweight exercises as well as equipment to build strength. In the early years it was known as the shock method, which, quite naturally, could be misinterpreted.
This is because the athlete would drop and experience a shock on landing from a height. The eccentric contraction (just a scientific word describing how muscle fibers extend when contracted) that this movement forces is quickly converted to concentric contraction as the athlete jumps upward.
The US Olympic long-distance runner Fred Wilt can be credited for the term as he coined it after observing the Russian athletes during warm-ups. That is how this technique found its way into the routine of runners and sprinters.
Plyometrics For Beginners
If you are a beginner who is just getting to know this concept- I’m glad you found this article! Let me take you through the steps of this exercise and how you can incorporate it into your lifestyle.
If you are asking “What are the three steps of plyometrics?” Following are the basic steps of this exercise, divided in three phases:
- Eccentric pre-stretch or loading phase
- Amortization or time to rebound phase
- Concentric shortening or rebound phase
As per the current concepts of plyometrics, the first phase is the readiness, pre-loading and pre-setting phase that is a preparatory phase. This phase is the facilitatory steps of the exercise where you get ready for the following phases.
The next phase is the amoritization phase which is the time to rebound phase. The term amoritization is used for this phase to conclude the eccentric pre-stretch phase. The purpose of this phase is to utilize the energy that is stored from the first phase.
The amoritization phase should be short for the plyometric movement to be powerful. This is because the stored energy can then be used efficiently in the transition to the next phase.
The types of exercises that can be included for you to practice plyometrics include a jump squat, power skipping, plyometric push up (a type of upper body plyometrics), and box jump. These are a few examples for you to try if you want to incorporate plyometrics in your routine.
However, please note that the “beginner” in this context is used for someone who is into physical activity, however, is new to plyos. Someone who is well-versed with the different techniques involved in physical activity and can control their body well. You can buy a plyometrics box to practice box jumps.
The final phase of this exercise is the concentric shortening phase. This is also known as the “resultant power production performance phase.” The phase is a result of the interactions from the previous phases, including the biomechanical response which utilizes the elastic properties of the pre-stretched muscles.
Plyometrics For Runners
The most prevalent sport that uses plyometrics is running or sprinting. Runners are athletes who require quick energy to get past that winning lap. The exercises for runners include the following steps:
You must first start with a warm up where your muscles are ready to take on the action that is to follow. Once you are ready for the exercise, you can start the following exercises:
- Scissor Jump
The exercise begins with the right foot forward and the left foot back, the left arm is placed forward while the right arm stays back. Next, bend your knees slightly and push off with the balls of your feet. While doing so, you have to switch your stance midair so that your opposite foot is landing in the front from when you started.
Make sure you land gently on your feet and repeat as soon as you touch the ground.
- Frog Jump
Doesn’t this take you back to the pre-primary school? Well, I just got a refresh. This is a simple exercise where you begin in a wide squat position, your feet should be facing outwards.
Next, you jump up to move forward and land softly on the balls of your feet. As soon as you reach the forward position, you are to jump back to the starting position.
- Jump Rope
The easiest exercise ever, you start with your feet placed at shoulder distance while you are holding a jump rope. You start this exercise with rotating your wrists such that the rope comes over your head and you jump on the balls of your feet.
You may increase the difficulty by jumping with one foot while working on your stability.
For this exercise, you combine a couple of different movements. You will start the exercise by lowering your body to a squat position while placing your hands on the floor. Next, you jump your legs into the plank position following it with a push up.
Once you complete the push up, you should push your feet forward to your hands and jump back into the squat position.
It may seem complicated but you can complete the exercise easily.
- Jumping Jacks
A variation to the jump rope, the jumping jacks are also reminiscent of the gym class, at least for me. You start with placing your feet at shoulder-length and jump simultaneously while your hands move above your head.
At this position, your hands will be wider than shoulder width. This is repeated by returning to the starting position.
You may have noticed that throughout the article, there were pieces of your childhood, reminding you that you have always been engaged in plyometrics. At least for me that is what I had discovered while researching. Hopefully this article helps you in understanding the basics of plyometrics so that you are familiarized with the concept of the exercise.