Plyometric exercises: increase your speed and maximum power

Woman doing Box Jumps as an example of polymeric exercises

After looking into static isometric exercises last week, this week, it gets much more… explosive!

In plyometric exercises, we have quick, powerful movements that uses the muscles’ abilities to work like a rubber band and can help athletes to tremendously boost their power output. This can be during jumps, but also when throwing an object, punching, kicking, etc.

The 3 phases of plyometric movements

Plyometric exercises include a stretching-shortening cycle of the muscles, that consists of three different phases.

Eccentric phase
Just as if you want to shoot a rubber band, in the eccentric phase, your muscles get elongated when you bend your knees before jumping. In this step, energy is built up.
Amortization phase
Next, the movement comes briefly to a halt for dynamic stabilization during which the muscle transitions from loading energy to releasing it. If this isometric part is too long, energy gets lost. The shorter the amortization phase, the more power can get released in the next step.
Concentric phase
The stored energy now gets unloaded, which adds to the tension generated in a concentric muscle contraction. It’s when we let go of the rubber band. The power is redirected in the muscle and used for throwing a punch or moving the body upwards.

Muscular power vs. muscular strength

Muscular power and muscular strength are not the same thing. Power is the time a muscle takes to convert strength in speed. A short, quick muscle contraction will produce higher energy than a slow, long one.

The ability to transform strength in force rapidly is essential in many sports like table tennis, football, martial arts, etc.

Types of plyometric exercises

In the family plyometric exercises, we can find quite a range:
  • Very small, fast movements but with only little force, like quickly moving your feet with tiny steps that improve your reaction forces and quickness.
  • Still quick motions but with added force as in Split Lunges or Jumps where you only hit the floor to jump directly up again, that improve your elasticity.
  • Longer drills with a higher range of motion that put the focus on stability and medium power like Squat Jumps or Clap Pushups.
  • Very long movements with an elevated force by adding resistance to Split Lunges or Jumps. (This category is due to the extra load being the riskiest of all, if you are not careful or don’t have the needed stability it can easily lead to injuries.)

In Goliaz, you will find plyometric exercises mixed into a lot of workouts and audios. We have launched a number of audios recently, that are specifically focussed on this kind of training. For example “Arrows”, “Extravaganza”, “Tequila” or the “Vortex”-series that you can find in our Training Plans.

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