Dictionary.com says plyometrics is “a system of exercise in which the muscles are
repeatedly stretched and suddenly contracted.” In general, when the
exercises are done correctly, using a plyometrics exercise program can increase
your overall speed, strength, explosiveness and jumping. There have been numerous studies which strongly suggest that plyometrics works to develop key components of successful running.
Examples of exercises that are considered plyometrics would be a press up and clap, playing catch with a medicine ball while laying down, and drop jumping. Here is how you perform each of these plyometric exercises:
Stand on top of something that is higher than the ground such as a step or a box. Jump off the box and then back onto it immediately after. Once you get good at it or if you have extraordinary balance do it as fast as you can as it will improve your explosiveness.
Playing catch with a medicine ball while laying down
This exercise requires a second person. The other person stands over you and drops the medicine ball somewhere close to the person’s hand and then the other person throws it straight back up. This exercise is designed to increase your arm strength and upper body.
Push ups and clap
This one is self explanatory and, yes, you clap when you are at the very top of your push up. In order to get the maximum benefit of the exercise you want to spend as little time close to the ground as possible. When coming up you should do so as quickly as possible.
More details about these, and other exercises can be found at brianmac.co.uk.
So why would one want to do plyometrics training? Plyometrics, or “plyos” as they are often called on the Internet, are generally exercises that you do at a higher rate of speed than you would other exercises.
One way that plyometrics is good for runners is that they can use it as a possible cross training activity if they can’t safely run in the dark. So now let’s say you decide you are convinced and decide that you would like to replace the 40-50 miles a week you run and replace it with plyometric exercises, what is the next thing you should do?
Find a program and create a routine. Just like you set a schedule (hopefully) with the runs that you hoped to accomplish you should set a side a time for plyometrics and decide which set of plyometrics you are going to do. If this is not something you are comfortable doing you may want to get the assistance of either a trusted friend, a coach for the sport you are training for, or a personal trainer.
Another possible option is to go online and look for some training programs. Google the words “plyometric exercise programs” and you’ll soon find hundreds of thousands of possible ways to improve your training regime.
So who are plyometrics for? Those who want to run higher, jump faster, be more explosive and who want to become better athletes overall.