We reveal the power of plyometric exercise

If you’re looking for ways to boost your workout intensity at home or in the gym, it’s time to consider plyometrics.

The name might sound ‘sciency’ but plyometrics are a common form of exercise performed to increase power by training the muscles with fast and explosive movements.

Examples include box jumps, squat jumps, depth jumps, lunge thrusts and plyometric push-ups.

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Explosive strength and power

Often called ‘plyos’ for short, plyometric exercises are often used to reduce the risk of sport-related injuries.

The word plyometrics originates from the Greek word “pleythyein”, which means to augment or increase. The actual word was first coined by American track coach, Fred Wilt.

Muscle tissue stretches and contracts. When you apply a force to the stretch, the muscle responds by contracting more forcefully. With training and proper progression, plyometrics have shown to markedly boost overall strength and power.

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Plyo benefits

Including plyos in your weekly workout schedule can boost your performance when performing other common weight lifting exercises

The increased strength will allow you lift heavier weights, which will help build more shapely muscle and boost your metabolism.

A more direct benefit includes higher calorie expenditure during short, intense workouts. These exercises also reduce soft tissue injury risk by strengthening tendons and ligaments.

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When to plyo

Due to the advanced nature of these exercises and the nervous system activation, plyometric exercise is not recommended for beginners, or when you return to training after an extended break.

And always perform your plyo movements at the start of a session when you are strongest and freshest. Fatigued muscles will have more difficulty stopping the eccentric component of plyometric exercise.

Plyo movements for lower body:

Box jumps, depth jumps, jump squats, jump split squats, straddle hops, bounds, weighted squat jumps, and weighted split squats.

Plyo movements for upper body:

Plyo push ups, uneven push ups, kettlebell swings, ballistic pull ups, banded rows, single arm kettlebell swings, muscle ups and depth push-ups.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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