As a Strength & Conditioning fan, I regularly see people introducing plyometrics into their training programmes. Plyometrics are great, and effective use of them in a training programme can have really positive implications. But only in the right context and when introduced in the right manner.
What are plyometrics?
Plyometrics involve training a group of muscles to rapidly contract and lengthen. Hopping, skipping and jumping are all great examples of plyometric exercises. If you want to get really geeky about it, take a look at the stretch shortening cycle and the elastic components of muscles.
How can plyometrics help?
As with all training programmes, this is sport specific. With running alone, you have a broad spectrum from ultra athletes to couch to 5k to sprinting down a Rugby pitch. So there is no one type of plyometrics training programme to suit all. However, alongside the ability to increase power, velocity, force, acceleration, energy storage and muscle activation, the musculoskeletal system is able to tolerate increased work loads and greater neuromuscular coordination is achieved. If you want to find out more there is a great article by Davies et al (2015) that talks all about it.
How do you get started with Plyometrics?
As with any training programme, plyometrics need to be progressively introduced in order to keep you injury free. However, in the wrong hands, it is really easy to injure yourself doing plyometrics. I regularly see people trying out box jumps when they don’t have enough of a foundation of control, strength & coordination to keep themselves safe. To get the best out of plyometric training try incorporating a concentrated plyometric session before you go and lift weights and only AFTER you have thoroughly warmed up!
Before you get started, there needs to be a gateway to entry! Can you stand on one leg with your eyes shut for 30 seconds with absolute control? Can you squat 60% of your body mass 5 times in a row without pay within 5 seconds with good technique? These are just a few examples.
Plyometrics are undoubtedly fantastic – and lots of people would really benefit from introducing them into their training programme (not just crazy fit athletes). But in order to do so, ask for help to keep yourself safe!
PS. If it isn’t already clear…..We can help you with plyometrics! It is a fundamental part of the injury prevention and rehabilitation work we do.