You may have heard the term plyometrics on social media or at your local gym. It is a fitness trend that is gaining popularity due to its ability to increase muscle strength and power. But what is plyometrics exactly? Read on to discover a simple plyometrics definition and a simple plyometric cardio circuit you can add to your workout routine.
Plyometrics, also known as jump training, is a form of exercise designed to build muscle strength, speed, stamina, and endurance by repeatedly contracting and stretching the muscle fibers.
Plyometrics increases power, allowing you to jump higher, run quicker, and change direction faster. This results in an improvement in performance when you participate in sports or activities that involve jumping, kicking, or running.
Plyometric training is aerobic, and so improves cardiovascular health, burns calories, and aids weight loss.
Plyometrics require little to no equipment, so you don't need to join a gym to benefit from this type of training, making it accessible and affordable. Plyometrics can be performed anywhere with a bit of space to jump and move.
Plyometric training involves maximum muscle exertion in a short period of time, causing stress to the muscle fibers, ligaments, and joints. If you are new to exercise or have any pre-existing injuries or illnesses, you will need to build up to plyometric training so that you don't damage your body.
Ensure that your lower body's main joints - your hips, knees, and ankles have sufficient mobility and flexibility before embarking on plyometric training so that you don't damage them.
If in doubt, consult a personal trainer or other exercise professional to get you started with plyometrics safely and effectively.
Here is an example of a short, beginner-friendly, full-body plyometric cardio circuit that you can try at home. Make sure that you warm up sufficiently before starting the workout, and that you stretch properly afterward. Perform each exercise for 60 seconds and rest for 20 seconds in between. After you have completed all three exercises, rest for 1 minute and begin the circuit again until you have completed the circuit three times.
1: Burpees are a great full-body plyometric exercise that is easily adaptable for beginners.
Begin standing and come into a deep squat. Plant your hands on the ground and step or jump your feet behind you so that you are in a plank position. Do a push-up, remaining on your toes, or dropping your knees to the floor. Jump or step your feet back to the deep squat position. Stand or explosively jump in the air before returning to the starting position.
2: Squat Jumps are excellent for building strength in your quads and glutes.
Begin with your feet a bit wider than hip-width. Bend your knees and lower your tailbone as if you were about to sit in a chair, keeping your chest raised. Come down as low as you can, ideally so that your legs create a 90-degree angle. Keep your knees tracking over your feet. Jump up explosively, raising your arms overhead and land softly ready to begin again. If you are a beginner, don't squat as deep or jump as high.
3: Lateral Skater Jumps help you build agility and develop strength in the muscles that move you side to side.
Begin in a squat position and lift your left foot off the floor. Using your right leg to propel you, leap to the left and land softly on your left foot, bending your left knee and sinking into the squat position to soften the impact. Then repeat by pushing off the left leg to jump sideways to the right.
Remember to cool down properly after you have completed your circuit three times by stretching all the main muscles. Yoga poses such as downward facing dog, reclined pigeon, and crescent lunge are useful for post-workout stretching.
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