With summer just around the corner, we all want to lose those last pounds and get our bodies in top shape. Crossfit exercises, Tabata, HIIT, Hula Hoop etc. – the fitness world is very diverse and there is something for everyone. But exactly when we believe that we already know and have tried all possible training methods, a new one is added. Jumping, running, and performing multiple exercises as quickly and dynamically as possible – plyometric training is becoming increasingly popular among fitness enthusiasts. This is a special form of jumping strength training and the dynamic movements are intended to improve our strength and coordination and promote fat loss. Classic strength training is not for you and you find running several tens of kilometers on the treadmill boring? Then you could try something completely new and challenge your muscles again! What Exactly Is Plyometric Training And What Are The Best Plyometric Exercises To Include In Your Exercise Routine? We’ll tell you all this and much more below!
Plyometric training, also known as jumping strength training, includes dynamic sideways, up and down as well as forward and backward movements, which are supposed to increase our explosive strength. That is the force that makes us react in a matter of seconds. When we’re looking to lose weight, hours of cardio may be the first thing that comes to mind. While this is not the worst idea and definitely better than nothing, it is not the best either. In order to define our body, we not only have to burn fat, but also build muscle. And this is where plyometric training comes into play – the exercises with jumping power stimulate the metabolism and train several muscle groups at the same time. However, getting up and going to the gym every morning can be very stressful for most people. The best thing about the plyometric exercises? You don’t need any special equipment and they are ideal for a quick yet effective home workout!
What is plyometric training?
Plyometric training was originally developed in the 1970s by Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky, known as the “father of plyometry”, developed as a form of training for the Soviet Olympic team. A few years later, the American Fred Will was so enthusiastic about the achievements of the athletes that he also implemented the training method in his athletes in the USA. While initially mainly used by martial artists and gymnasts, plyometric training is now gaining popularity among more and more fitness enthusiasts. In contrast to classic strength training with slow movements to increase muscle mass, plyometric exercises are based on fast and explosive movements. The technique activates the central nervous system and aims to improve two important abilities of the muscles – their strength and dynamism. The activation of the fast-twitch muscle fibers leads to a fast and efficient muscle building.
The basis of plyometric training is the so-called Extension-Shortening Cycle (DVZ), that is, the lengthening of the muscles, followed by a sudden and rapid shortening. The workout is mostly based on pure self-weight exercises such as push-ups, squats and lunges – of course in an explosive and dynamic variant. The exercises with jumping power train several muscle groups at the same time, which ensures a balanced whole-body workout. The rapid execution of the exercise also promotes fat loss. When we train at maximum intensity for 30 to 40 seconds, our body has to work hard to recruit the muscle fibers it needs to perform properly.
Who are plyometric exercises for and how often should we do them??
Everyone who is actively involved in sports has done plyometric exercises – for example jumping jacks. Movements with jumping elements are also often part of HIIT workouts. Plyometric training requires an enormous amount of strength and strength and would therefore be less suitable for beginners. The high strain on the musculoskeletal system and insufficient knowledge as well as the wrong technique can lead to serious injuries. It is recommended that you slowly approach the training method. You should also have a certain stamina. For example, once you’ve got a clean squat, it’s okay to try jumping squats. The ligaments, joints and tendons must also be healthy. Exercise is therefore taboo for overweight people or people recovering from surgery.
Because of the increased intensity, this is most definitely not the type of workout that you should be doing on a daily basis. After all, the muscles need some time to recover. There are a few ways you can incorporate plyometrics into your exercise routine.
- Swap out some traditional strength training exercises for a more dynamic variant. If pushups are a regular part of your workout, do plyo pushups instead.
- Avoid boring cardio and do a 30-minute plyometric workout instead. It’s more fun and burns almost twice as many calories.
How do you benefit from plyometric exercises?
Wondering what this bouncing up and down brings? A whole lot! Plyometric training is a real all-rounder for our fitness. This improves coordination, jumping and speed strength, stability, balance, mobility and explosiveness. It also strengthens the tendons and ligaments, which makes us less prone to injury in the long term. Through the plyometric exercises, our body learns to use its strength efficiently and as a result, we hold out longer. Runners and athletes who train basketball, volleyball or boxing can particularly benefit from this. The functional movements strain the entire body and activate several muscle groups at the same time, which makes this form of training an excellent full-body workout. The legs and buttocks are particularly stressed, which leads to a firm and beautiful lower body.
Plyometric training exercises
Below we’ve rounded up some of the best plyometric exercises to add to your exercise routine. For most of these, all you need is your own body weight. However, if you really want to work out and take your training to the next level, you should get a so-called plyo box or a higher and stable box. For a full workout, choose between 5 and 6 of the following exercises and do a total of 3 rounds.
- Jumping Squats, Also known as squat jumps or jump squats, are an essential part of any plyometric training. The starting position is the classic squat, which you hold in the lowest position for a few seconds. Then get your arms going and jump straight up in an explosive manner. Softly crouch down again and immediately jump again. Start with 8-10 reps and slowly work your way up.
- Frog jumps are another great squat variation to make your muscles burn. Crouch down low with your feet wide apart. Tense your stomach and jump forward as far as possible. Land softly in a crouch and jump forward again.
- Lunges with jump are an excellent full body exercise that will test your endurance. Step back with your right foot and lower your hips down so your legs are at a right angle. The left knee is behind the toe. Quickly jump in the air and swap feet so you land with your right leg in front. Jump quickly and switch sides again – that counts as one repetition. Do the exercise for about 30 seconds at your own pace.
- Star Jumps – And then it goes on with jumping. Star jumps are a strenuous variant of the classic jumping jack and are ideal for effective plyometric training. Start in an upright, hip-width position and crouch slightly. Now jump up while stretching your arms and legs at the same time. Crouch down again and jump again. Do 10 to 12 repetitions.
- Weighted infidelities – For this plyometric exercise, you will need a medium-high box and either a dumbbell or medicine ball. Stand about 50 centimeters from the box and hold a dumbbell or medicine ball above your head with your arms outstretched. Jump over the crate continuously for 30-40 seconds, making sure to keep your back straight.
- Plank Jacks – No plyometric training would be complete without at least one type of Plank. Plank Jacks are a combination of jumping jacks and plank – hence the name. Start in the classic high plank position and tense your stomach. Keep your head and hips in line with the rest of your body and your feet together. Now, jump, spread your legs and immediately return to the starting position. When doing this, make sure that the upper body remains as stable as possible.
- In & Out squats is the perfect plyometric exercise for improving your balance and exercising your thighs. Stand upright, hip-width apart, and crouch slightly. Keep your thighs parallel to the floor and keep your knees in line with your toes. From this position, jump into the sumo squat. Jump again and return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise continuously for 30-40 seconds.
- Push-ups with clapping – Have you already mastered the classic push-up? Then it’s time to try something new! Start in the classic high plank position with your hands below your shoulders and your elbows close to your body. Do a push-up, push yourself up, release your hands from the floor and quickly clap them together. Back in the push-ups, repeat. Do the exercise 8-10 times as quickly as possible.
- Squat with push-up – Squats and pushups are arguably the most popular strength exercises of all time, and when you combine the two in one movement, you get a real calorie killer! However, the exercise is very strenuous and only suitable for advanced users. Start in the traditional push-up position and quickly push yourself up through your hands. Bring your knees to your chest and land in a deep squat. Hold for 2-3 seconds and jump back into the push-up position. Do a total of 10-12 repetitions.
- Pop ups pushups are undoubtedly one of the most difficult plyometric exercises, but they are extremely effective and use all muscle groups at the same time. Lie on your stomach with your palm on the side of your chest. Do a push-up and quickly jump forward with your right foot and backward with your left foot. Immediately return to the starting position, push yourself up, and switch legs – this counts as one rep. Do a total of 10-12 repetitions per leg.
- Tuck Jumps – Either you love it or you hate it – anyone who’s ever done tuck jumps knows how incredibly challenging the exercise is. In contrast to the normal squat jumps, the knees are pulled to the chest, which in turn trains and strengthens the core muscles. Stand upright, hip-width apart, and slide your hips back and down slightly. Raise your arms and push yourself off the floor with maximum jumping force. Now pull your knees towards your chest until you reach the highest point of the jump. Extend your legs again and land softly in a crouch with your knees bent.