Athletes and health enthusiasts are always looking for the best way to get fit. There is a constant wave of exercise programs with different techniques and training regimens that help whip participants into great shape. One kind of training that many of these programs have in common is plyometrics. What are plyometrics? Although they might sound like some kind of mathematical field of science, plyometrics is a form of exercise that uses jump training to build muscle and improve response.
Professional athletes train with plyometrics and in recent years, it seems that everyone has started using them to really boost their exercise routines. For those who have never experienced this dynamic, high-intensity form of exercise, let’s talk a little bit about what are plyometrics and what they can do for your body.
What Does Plyometrics Do for Your Muscles?
Simply put, plyometrics helps give you better control over your muscles. If you’ve ever seen a football player run towards the end zone for a touchdown and marveled as he gracefully leapt over a player on the opposing team before landing on his feet and scoring the touchdown, then you’ve seen the wonders of plyometric training at work. You see, football players don’t just practice running around and catching the ball. Take a look into some of their behind-the-scenes training and you’ll see that they also work on jumping. They practice jumping high. They practice jumping far. They practice controlling precisely where and how they will land at the end of each jump.
So much of our exercising and training focuses on cardiovascular fitness and muscle building. Plyometrics focuses on the contraction of our muscles and the motion necessary to do things like jump and land. This isn’t just for professional athletes. We, too, can build the ability to jump higher, jump farther, and react more quickly.
What Types of Plyometrics are There?
Plyometrics uses quick, explosive exercise movements to give your muscles the ultimate workout. When you do plyometrics (or “plyo,” as some people call it), you’ll be doing a lot of jumps. You might jump over cones, jump on and off of boxes or benches, hop on one leg, do jump squats, or work on vertical or broad jumps. You’ll be amazed at how much simple jumps will work and build your muscles.
What are the Benefits of Plyometric Training?
Unlike many other popular exercises, plyometrics will not focus on your core. They won’t work your back muscles. They won’t specifically focus on your arms, either, unless you incorporate some sort of arm-building exercise (such as tossing around a medicine ball or doing push ups) in between plyometric moves. What plyometrics is designed to target is your lower extremities—your glutes and your leg muscles. With plyometrics, you’re going to build beautiful leg muscles.
While plyometrics are not specifically categorized as an aerobic exercise, anyone that has ever done them will tell you that in addition to setting your muscles on fire, they will get your heart pumping. Although their focus is on working the muscles in your legs, you’ll build cardio health just by virtue of all of the quick moving and jumping around.
How Often Should You Do Plyometrics?
Because you are really working your leg and glute muscles, plyometrics are not exercises that should be done everyday. Do them every other day, at most, in order to give your muscles time to recover. Experts suggest you do them 1 to 3 days each week.
Other Things to Consider about Plyometric training
The great thing about plyometrics is that it doesn’t require any equipment. You can do most of these exercises anywhere. For some of the higher jumping routines, you may need to search out a park bench or something to accommodate your practice.
One downside to plyometrics is that they are not low-impact and therefore, aren’t great for people with knee or other joint injuries.
If you’re an exercise beginner and aren’t quite fit yet, work on building up your muscle strength and begin plyometrics very slowly. Because the moves are quick and high-impact, you need to have your muscles built up so that you don’t injure yourself. As with any exercise, pay attention to what your body is telling you!