As with any training regimen, you really want to tailor your exercises to the quality you’re trying to improve. Plyometric exercises improve your speed, agility, and explosive power. Some exercises are going to increase your strength, others will foster quickness. So we chose to highlight a balance of exercises that are simple to transition to during your regular training routine or even as warm-ups and cool-downs.
This is just like a normal pushup, except - on your way up, try exploding from your lowest position until your hands leave the ground. You really want to get as much height as possible on this, but be sure to put yourself into a good position to cushion your landing. Just repeat continuously for 15 seconds. Don’t worry too much about how many reps you can get in, this is more about the explosive power and full range of the motion. You’ll get more out of doing a few of these well than many of them poorly.
Use as a stand alone plyo exercise or work these in in-between your chest presses and flies to really maximize the strength potential.
The scissor jump is a plyometric exercise designed to increase explosive strength in the glutes and adductors and give you a good stretch at the same time. Essentially a jumping “dynamic” lunge, the scissor jump happens in place. Start out in the lunge position while keeping your back straight and toes pointed forward. Squat down slowly, as low as you can go, then explode quickly upward, leaving the ground and switching leg positions while you’re in the air. After landing softly, immediately begin your next jump. Repeat this 10 times to get your set.
Work these in after your cardio run or bike, or in-between leg press or squat sets, to pack on explosive power and give yourself a little stretch at the same time.
Skater Jumps can be a really fun plyo exercise because of the momentum you can build up and the control you’ll want to have. They place your bodyweight entirely on one leg, which builds balance and can help prevent “leg favoring”, especially during other exercises like two-legged box jumps. To do them, get yourself into a squat position with your back straight, feet relatively close together and most of your weight on one side. With the leg that is carrying the weight, push off laterally and land on your opposite foot softly. While landing, swing your free leg behind your weighted leg, almost like a curtsy. Then, as your free leg has the momentum coming back, jump back onto that foot. Repeat 10 times for a set. Think speed skater.
Skater Jumps are great as a stand alone exercise, but could be used as a warm up/cool down on leg day to beef up your training and build lateral power and strength in your glutes and quads.
To increase your dynamic coordination, bounding really can’t be beat. You’re going to be moving forward on this one, so make sure you have enough room to work. Start by pushing off your right foot as it lands. While you’re pushing off, bring your same knee up so your thigh is parallel to the ground. As you’re in the air, stretch your arms in front of you. Then immediately repeat by pushing off your left foot. Your goal should be to cover as much distance as possible in each stride.
Again, bounding is great as a stand-alone coordination and strength plyo exercise. It can also be used as warm-ups for a run, bike, or any workout really.
Lateral Box Shuffle
We mention this plyometric exercise in another post as well - 10 Exercise and Training Movements To Perform with the Elev8 Plyobox - but that’s really because they’re just that awesome for lateral foot speed and quickness. The lateral box shuffle is similar to skater jumps, but again, the goal is speed on this one, not strength. Start by placing the Elev8 Plyo Box next to you at about shin height. Stand up on the box with your right leg, keeping your left foot on the ground and get into a squat position. Then, bring your left foot up to the platform, and at the same time, bring your right foot down to the ground on the opposite side. This is one rep. Both feet should only be on the platform at the same time for a brief exchange of weight and that’s it. Again, think quickness here.
Box “Shuffles” are awesome plyometric exercises to work into your agility and balance training. They can be a really great augment to cardio as they can definitely get your heart pumping a bit.
A couple things to remember...
High intensity training is proven to stack strength, there’s no doubt about that. But this can leave a lot of athletes feeling like they need to push through transitions and get onto the next set or exercise - increasing the risk of injury. So take proper breaks - and think of it this way: you’ll get more out of each exercise if you are able to your put maximum strength and explosiveness behind it. If you’re overly fatigued, you simply won’t get as much out of your reps. Be disciplined and rest between sets, even if they feel "easy." And if a set does leaves you fatigued, add on 30 seconds more to a recommended rest. Remember: Just because you're not gasping for air doesn't mean your body’s not working hard.
Keep track of your reps and sets in every workout and how much weight you’re using - if applicable. Take note when something feels pretty easy or if it gave you some trouble. By monitoring your progress on these plyometric exercises and others, you’ll start to see your performance on these exercises, as well as your overall strength and speed improve.
If you have more questions about how to plug plyometric exercises into your workout, just give us a call or read some of our other awesome blogs.