Plyometric exercises are made up off fast movements, over a short period of time. Such movements include power jumping, repetitive bounding and quick force production.
When muscles eccentrically contract or shorten, then immediately stretch and lengthen, they produce maximum power. This is called the stretch-shortening cycle. Plyometric training decreases the time between your eccentric and concentric contractions, improving muscular speed and power.
Use and Benefits
Plyometric training is ideal for athletes or people looking to improve speed, power and strength. Other benefits include weight loss, and an increase in muscle definition and tone.
With an increase in speed comes power, along with strength gains in both the upper and lower body. Examples of lower body exercises are tuck jumps, squat jumps, box jumps and depth jumps. The goal of these jumps is to get higher by utilizing your leg strength to improve the height of your jump. Upper body exercises include clapping push-ups, medicine ball chest press throw and overhead throws. These help improve strength in the upper body.
Weight Loss and Tone
Being highly intensive, plyometrics use a lot of energy. As the whole body is being exercised, most muscle groups are activated; thereby using lots of energy and burning calories. The reduction in calories then aids in weight loss.
Plyometrics combine strength training and cardiovascular exercise, creating an intense workout that increases muscular definition. For example, with lower body plyometric exercises, repetitive landing causes your entire leg muscles to contract, thereby improving tone and definition.
The only disadvantage to this form of training is the high risk of injury. If you are untrained, the risk of strains increases significantly, because the muscles surrounding your joints are weaker and may not give you the support you need. This is due to, for example, the repetitive action of jumping and bounding, where such action can cause stress on the joints. If you have arthritis or joint issues, get yourself cleared by your doctor, before starting plyometrics training.
Plyometrics for Martial Arts
Plyometric exercises have been included within the syallabus of our very own Muay Thai program.
We feel that Plyometrics training is off great benefit, and as such, its incorporation into our program consists of no more than 9 minutes of exercises, depending on the particular grade level and fitness of the member.
Pictured to the left, an extract from our syllabus details how we structure our plyometrics training over 3 phases/sections; representing the upper body, mid-section and lower body.
In conclusion, plyometrics training will benefit anyone who is looking at gaining strength and speed for their sport. But, like all fitness activities, beginners should start with light exercise and low volume, and then gradually progress with gained strength.