If you search the web for different forms of beneficial exercise, you’ll finds hundreds of them. Weight lifting increases muscle mass, cardio is great for toning, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a quick fat burner. But if you want to increase your power – namely strength and speed – you might want to look int something called Plyometric Training.
Plyometric training, a.k.a. ‘jump training‘ or simply ‘plyos‘, is a form of exercise often employed by today’s top athletes. Not only does it carry the benefits of burning fat and increasing muscle mass, particularly in the calves and thighs, it’s considered by many athletic trainers to be the number-one way to increase strength and speed.
Think back to your childhood for a moment. If you were active on the playground, chances are you spent a good deal of time skipping, hopping and jumping around. That’s kind of what plyometric training is, but in a more purposeful manner.
Plyos are quick bursts of movement involving jumping and hopping, such as jump-squats and jump-lunges for the lower body, and clapping push-ups or shuffle planks for upper body. Athletes will often set up a series of cones to jump over in rapid succession, or leap up onto a bench, then back down again.
The key to a successful plyometric training workout is to perform all jumps in quick bursts. Each time you land from a jump, your muscles are stretched, resulting in more power being exerted into the next jump. By repeatedly stretching and contracting the muscles, you are training them to become faster and more powerful.
Caution: Plyos Aren’t For Everyone
Plyometric training isn’t recommended for everyone. It’s a very high-intensity workout, and does come with risks. If a person doesn’t have enough knowledge to perform the exercises properly, or more importantly, doesn’t have the physical capacity to perform them properly, there is a serious risk of injury involved.
Suffice to say, plyos are for those who are already used to exercising, and should never be attempted without proper knowledge and/or supervision.
This is not an every-day form of exercise, either. The muscle’s should be given enough time to rest. Plyos should be limited to once every other day, at most, and only in short intervals on those days; about 10-15 reps per jumping exercise.
Key Benefits of Plyometric Training
There are a number of key benefits that come from jump training. Due to the workout’s high-intensity level, it’s a great way to burn calories and fat, especially when integrated into a regular workout schedule.
The quick muscle movements encourage fast muscle growth, and because the exercises are performed as quickly as possible, the aerobic benefits are also considerable.
Finally, your muscle reaction time will receive a noticeable increase. Plyos train the muscle to stretch and contract very quickly, boosting your overall speed. When we see today’s best football players, like 2015 NFL season sack leader J. J. Watt, or rushing phenom Adrian Peterson, we can clearly see what plyometric training has done for their game.