How Plyometrics Help You Make Explosive Gains
The benefits of plyometric training and how to incorporate it into your workouts for better gains.
One of the best things about fitness is that, if you’re ever bored with your workouts, need more variety, or want to try new things to challenge your body further and make more gains, there are countless training approaches that you can try – like plyometrics!
If you’ve practiced HIIT training or CrossFit before, chances are that you’re already familiar with plyometric exercises, or you’ve tried them before without knowing. This fast-paced training style is great for building power, strength, endurance, and burning calories all at the same time.
In this article, we’ll tell you all about plyometric training and its benefits, as well as how to incorporate this style of training into your workouts for better gains. So, if you’re interested in adding some intensity to your current workout, or want to get more done at the gym in less time, keep reading!
What is plyometric training?
Plyometrics are reactive exercises in which you perform an eccentric contraction quickly followed by an explosive concentric contraction, as defined by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.  In simpler words, this is a high-intensity training style that focuses on exerting the maximum amount of force in a short amount of time.
This style of training aims to increase your speed, strength, and endurance while burning a ton of calories at the same time thanks to the fast-paced movements. It’s usually used by athletes to further improve their physical condition, but beginners and active people with different training styles can also benefit from plyometrics.
You can perform a plyometric exercise by itself, such as doing jumping jacks and burpees, or add a plyometric element like jumping, sprinting, or throwing to a resistance exercise, such as turning standard squats into jump squats. It’s up to you, your preferences, and your current workout routine!
Is there a difference between HIIT and plyometrics?
While both training styles might sound very similar, both consisting of short bursts of intense movement, they’re not the same thing…
- HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a structured workout based on intervals of quick movement followed by short rest periods, and they often consist of a few exercises repeated in a circuit until the workout is over. As a cardio training style, its main goal is to burn more calories in less time while also improving your strength.
- Plyometrics, on the other hand, focuses on developing your speed, agility, strength, and endurance. Essentially, you add plyometric elements to an existing workout or create a completely new workout based on plyometrics to improve your athleticism and increase your gains.
That said, you can add some of the best plyometric exercises to your HIIT routine to make it more effective and challenging! Combining both training styles is a great way to get closer to your fitness goals, especially if you have endurance-related goals.
Benefits of plyometric training
We already mentioned a few ways in which plyometrics can improve your workouts and fitness life, so here they are explained plus a few other benefits that you might not know yet:
Increases your athletic performance
Because plyometrics is such a fast-paced style of training, it recruits more muscle fibers to be able to move swiftly throughout the full range of motion of each exercise. This improves your speed, agility, and reaction time during movement, three key components of athletic performance.
Additionally, these short bursts of intense activity help increase your muscular endurance and stamina with time, allowing you to perform better and for longer during future workouts. This makes this style of training perfect for those who practice sports such as basketball, soccer, sprinting, boxing, and others.
Improves your strength and power
While plyometric training is mostly focused on improving athleticism, it’s also a great way to increase your strength. This is because, during plyometric exercises, your body needs to be able to absorb impact and quickly move your body weight and change direction, which helps improve your overall strength with time.
And because strength plus speed equals power, plyometrics also help you improve your muscle power during your workouts! This means that you’re able to overcome resistance in the least amount of time more efficiently during your workouts.
Burns additional calories post-workout
Just like with HIIT, plyometric exercises allow you to keep burning calories even after you’re done with your workout. This process is known as EPOC, or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, and it refers to the energy (calories) that you burn after your workout while your body goes back to its initial resting state.
Increases your cardiovascular fitness
While plyometrics isn’t necessarily a form of cardio, it can definitely count as a cardio workout! Its fast-paced quality makes your heart pump faster, allowing your blood to flow more efficiently throughout your body. On top of carrying nutrients and oxygen to your muscles when they need it, it also improves your overall cardiovascular health.
It’s convenient and versatile
One of the best things about plyometric training is that you don’t need any kind of equipment to do it – you don’t even have to be at the gym! It’s perfect for at-home workouts or for when you’re at the park and want to get a quick workout in. Plus, because it is fast-paced, a full plyometric workout can be done in just 15 minutes.
How to incorporate plyometrics into your workouts
Before talking about how to incorporate plyometrics into your strength training workouts, let’s talk first about who should and shouldn’t try this type of workout.
Plyometrics is a high-intensity training style, meaning that it needs a significant amount of base strength and agility to be able to be performed correctly and with proper form. If you’re a beginner, you need to work on your athleticism first before starting to include plyometric elements in your workouts.
This also goes for those with injuries, especially if said injuries limit their mobility or agility. Even if you’re already experienced, plyometrics can be very strenuous for your muscles and joints, so make sure to consult with a health professional first.
That said, if you’re ready to try plyometrics and take your fitness and athleticism to the next level, here’s how to do it:
Start slow and work your way up
This one should be a given for anything new that you try during your fitness journey, especially when it comes to high-intensity training styles such as plyometrics.
Gradually introducing plyometric elements to your workouts will ensure that you’re able to learn proper form and keep up with the most challenging aspects of it without burning yourself out or injuring yourself.
Instead of doing a full plyometric workout on your first day, you could add just one plyometric exercise to your strength training routine, such as box jumps or ball throws. This will help you build your endurance and agility, allowing you to then increase reps for that exercise or add a completely new plyometric movement to your routine.
Begin your workout with plyometric exercises
Plyometrics is an explosive and fast-paced training style, meaning that you use a lot of energy during your workout. Because of this, it’s better to start your workout with plyometric exercises while you’re fresh and your energy levels are high so you’re able to perform with proper form.
If you leave plyometric exercises last or perform them when you’re already getting tired, chances are that you’re not going to be able to keep the correct form, which could result in injury. Accidentally slipping or missing the edge of a box while jumping isn’t fun, so make sure you do your plyometrics while you’re fully energized!
Don’t do plyometrics every day
It doesn’t matter how excited you are about your new fitness journey with plyometrics, you still need to give your muscles the appropriate rest after each workout – so don’t perform plyometric workouts two days in a row!
This style of training can be very strenuous on your body, so you need to have at least one full day of rest in between plyometric workouts. Once a week is good for beginners, and then you can move up to two or three times per week, depending on your training frequency and your fitness level.
Warm up and cool down properly
Getting a good warm-up session before a workout as well as cooling down after should be an essential part of your routine because it allows your muscles to get ready for the intense exercise and to relax right after. When it comes to plyometrics, you need to get your blood pumping and stretch your body before performing any intense exercise!
Doing some dynamic stretching that mimics the movements that you’ll be doing during your workout is a great way to loosen up your muscles and joints and improve your flexibility before a plyometric workout. When you’re done, make sure to perform a few static stretches to release the built-up tension so your muscles can recover quicker.
Improve your workouts with plyometric training
Whether you decide to fully incorporate plyometric workouts into your routine, or simply add a plyometric element to one or two of your favorite resistance exercises, this training style will help you improve your athleticism in no time. The more athletic you are, the better the gains you’ll achieve, so don’t be afraid to try plyometrics!
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