You’ve likely done plyometric workouts before, but didn’t know that’s what they were called. Burpees are a plyometric exercise. Squat jumps are a plyometric exercise. As such, it’s also called jump training.
“Plyometrics involves stretching the muscles prior to contracting them. This type of training, when used safely and effectively, strengthens muscles, increases vertical jump and decreases impact forces on the joints,” explain experts from American Council on Exercise.
This style of training has always been used by elite and professional athletes who need to build power, strength and explosiveness—think basketball, football or soccer players. While we don’t need to be explosive on our feet in the day-to-day, we do want to follow a well-rounded workout regimen and this is another style to add to your arsenal of workout options.
Not to mention it’s highly cardiovascular, allowing you to keep your heart rate up for the duration of the workout while building strength. You’ll burn more calories during and after your workout.
If you want to incorporate plyometrics into your workout routine, keep the following tips in mind and try out our carefully crafted plyometic workout plan.
You’re putting a lot of stress on your muscles, which makes stretching even more important to avoid injuries. In this case, dynamic stretching is most important, which doesn’t just stretch your muscles, but warms them up too. If you’re not sure what stretches to do, focus on mimicking the workout you’ll be doing, with 5 to 10 reps of low-intensity versions of each one. For example:
- Squat jumps = slow, gentle squats
- Jumping jacks = standing arm swings
- Plyometric pushups = modified push ups
Don’t forget to do a few wrist and ankle rolls, regardless of what exercises you do. These joints should be warm before starting since they absorb some of the impact.
Slow it down
Plyometric exercises are intended for experienced gym-goers and athletes. That doesn’t mean beginners can’t try, but before you get started, consider your current fitness level and what is realistic for your body. The following tips will help determine what you should and shouldn’t do:
- Check your form. If your form isn’t right, adding jumps to the movement only increases your risk for injury. Make sure you can do every exercise correctly before taking it to the next level.
- If you have knee or ankle pain, warm up longer and take it slow. One bad jump and you could tweak the sensitive area or trigger pain.
- Don’t jump from a high block or box right away. Start on the ground and make your way to taller starting points.
Keep it versatile
You don’t always have to go all-out during a plyometric workout. If your joints are bothering you, take your plyometrics to a soft mat, a grassy area or the swimming pool. This will reduce the intensity of impact as you land from various movements.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling strong and want to plan a hard workout, bring plyometrics into your strength training routine. Pair each strength exercise with a plyometric movement to keep your heart rate up. For example:
- Bicep curls + squat jumps
- Pushups + star jumps
- Shoulder press + burpees
Ready? Here’s your 30-minute plyometric workout
All x 12 reps, repeat 3 times
30-second rest between each exercises, 1-minute rest at end of round
- Squat jumps
- Clapping push ups
- Jump rope (30 seconds)
- Jumping lunges
- Jumping jacks
- Jumping lunges
Use these tips and ideas, along with our free workout, to jump-start your experience with plyometrics. When you take it slow and incorporate this style of movement in ways that feel best for your body, you’ll have a great cardio workout, while getting stronger and more agile in the process.
Excerpt: Jumpstart your year (literally) with professional-style workouts. Often called “jump training,” plyometric exercises are a great way to incorporate high-cardio, calorie-torching workouts into your strength-building routine.