With spring in the air, everybody is anxious to fast track their training in time for the big reveal at the beach.
We’re talking about the quickest way to get the kind of tone that turns heads and wins you the title of Shredded.
One of the most effective ways to jumpstart your progress is with plyometric training.
This explosive method of training can improve your look, as well as your game, by engaging fast-twitch muscle fibers and recruiting the deep-set muscle spindles that often get neglected with traditional weight lifting.
What Are Plyometrics?
Plyometrics played an important role in the 1970s when Eastern European coaches first introduced it into their Olympic athletes. Since then, athletes have incorporated it into their training to improve reaction times and force of muscular contractions for better sport-specific performance. Physique trainers love it too, because it helps break through training plateaus and beautifully defines the muscle, producing striations for esthetic appeal.
Plyometric Training Works through Three Systematic Phases
What plyometric training does is activate the nervous system to produce a complete mind-muscle connection, firing up every muscle fiber in the body through three systematic phases:
This is the phase where you load the muscle. Imagine you’re about to perform a box jump. As you squat down, you’re loading the muscle by lengthening and stretching it in preparation for the next phase. This loading phase has been shown to increase the velocity of the muscle. The heavier the load, the more explosive the muscle reaction will be. Adding momentum or torque to a movement is one way to increase the load of a muscle. The faster the load, the more power you’ll get from the muscle.
This is called the resting phase – that brief moment between eccentric and concentric contraction. Think of it as the still point of a dancer, where they balance perfectly on the axis of a movement, almost as if nothing is holding them up, before propelling into an explosive jump. Which brings us to the final phase.
This is called shortening the muscle. In order to propel the body into that explosive push, the muscle must first contract. By completing the first two phases, you’ll notice an increase in power and speed in your concentric phase and development of your fast-twitch muscle fibers.
So, that’s the what and why of plyometrics, but how do you incorporate these explosive movements into your training? First of all, a word of caution – this type of training requires a certain level of fitness and a strong muscular foundation. Technique is key when performing movements of speed, otherwise you’re just setting yourself up for injury. So first make sure you have a good grasp on squatting techniques and check to see your alignment is perfect.
Once you’ve perfected your form and technique, incorporate plyometrics as an alternative to leg training or dedicate a maximum of two days a week of plyometrics for specialized training. Make sure you’re getting at least one to two days of rest in between each session to avoid injury and burnout.
The Six Week Plyometric Training Program
Phase 1 – Two Weeks Perfecting Technique
- Wall Jumps – (week 1 = 20 sec/week 2 = 25 sec)
- Tuck Jumps – (week 1 = 20 seconds/week 2 = 25 sec)
- Broad Jumps Stick Land – (week 1 = 5 reps/week 2 = 10 reps)
- Squat Jumps – (week 1 = 10 sec/week 2 = 15 sec)
- Double Leg Cone Jumps
- Side to Side and Back to Front – (week 1 & 2 = 30 sec/30 sec)
- 180-Degree Jumps – (week 1 = 20 sec/25 sec)
- Bounding in Place – (week 1 = 20 sec/25 sec)
Phase 2 – Two Weeks Perfecting the Fundamentals
- Wall Jumps – (week 3 & 4 = 30 sec)
- Tuck Jumps – (week 3 & 4 = 30 sec)
- Jump, Jump, Jump, Vert. Jump – (week 3 = 5 reps/week 4 = 8 reps)
- Squat Jumps – (week 3 & 4 = 20 sec)
- Bounding for Distance – (week 3 = 1 run/week 4 = 2 runs)
- Double Leg Cone Jumps
- Side to Side and Back to Front – (week 3 & 4 = 30 sec/30 sec)
- Scissor Jump – (week 3 & 4 = 30 sec)
- Hop, Hop, Stick – (wek 3 & 4 = 5 reps/leg)
Phase 3 – Two Weeks Perfecting Performance
- Wall Jumps – (week 5 & 6 = 30 sec)
- Step, Jump Up, Down, Vertical – (week 5 = 5 reps/week 6 = 10 reps)
- Mattress Jumps
- Side to Side and Back to Front – (week 5 & 6 = 30 sec/30 sec)
- Single-Legged Jumps Distance – (week 5 & 6 = 5 reps/leg)
- Squat Jumps – (week 5 & 6 = 5 reps/leg)
- Jump into Bounding – (week 5 = 3 runs/week 6 = 4 runs)
- Single-Legged Hop, Hop, Stick – (week 5 & 6 = 5 reps/leg)
Mark A. Samuel
Timothy E. Hewett, Amanda L. Stroupe, Thomas A. Nance, Frank R. Noyes (1996). Plyometric Training in Female Athletes. Am J Sports Med 1996 24: 765. http://ajs.sagepub.com/content/24/6/765
Bobbert, MF, Huijing, PA, and Van Ingen Schenau, GJ. Drop jumping I. The influence of jumping technique on the biomechanics of jumping. Med Sci Sports Exerc 19: 332-338, 1987)