There is a reason why plyometric exercises are popular among athletes. Powerful and quick movements are used help to increase strength, power and speed. So, athletes often use plyometric exercises to improve their performance in sports such as basketball, and track and field. But you can also use plyometrics as a form of exercise. Read on to find out the benefits of plyometric exercises and how to do them.
What are plyometric exercises?
They are explosive exercises where the muscles get stretched first then get rapidly contracted, just like an elastic band. This process allows the muscle to generate more power than it would with slower contraction, says fitness expert Varun Rattan.
What are the benefits of plyometric exercises?
These exercises are not only good for athletes, but also those who want to improve their overall fitness. Here are some benefits:
1. Increased power and speed
Plyometrics train the muscles to fire more quickly, and this can improve speed and power in activities like jumping, running and throwing.
2. Improved vertical jump
These exercises are effective for improving vertical jump height. This is because certain plyometrics train fast-twitch muscle fibers in the legs and hips.
3. Improved agility
Some of these exercises require the body to move quickly in different directions, which can improve agility.
4. Reduced risk of injury
Plyometrics strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments, and also improve neuromuscular coordination.
5. Improved bone density
Plyometric exercises involve high-impact loading on the bones, which can increase bone density, says Rattan.
6. Increased cardiovascular fitness
In plyometrics, there are short bursts of intense activity and then periods of recovery, so they can improve cardiovascular fitness.
7. Reduced stress
Exercising in general is believed to uplift spirits. Plyometric exercises happen to release endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.
8. Improved body composition
These exercises can help to increase muscle mass while reducing body fat, improving your body composition.
What are the best plyometric exercises?
Try the following plyometric exercises for the most effective results!
1. Box jumps
Stand in front of a box that is at or slightly below knee height. Get into the quarter squat position and jump explosively up so that your feet land on top of the box then step back down and repeat.
2. Tuck jumps
To do this, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart then jump up and tuck your knees into your chest. Extend your legs and land softly, with your knees slightly bent then repeat.
3. Depth jumps
Stand on a box or a stepper that is about 12 inches high then jump off and land softly on the floor. Your knees should be slightly bent while doing this. Step back up onto the box or stepper and repeat.
4. Bench press throws
Lie down on a bench with your feet flat on the floor, and grip the Smith machine bar. Grip it slightly wider than shoulder-width and then remove it from the rack. Lower the bar to your chest and then explosively press the bar up, throwing it as high as you can. Catch the bar on its way down and lower it back to your chest.
5. Lateral bounds
With your knees slightly bent, make sure to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bound laterally to the right, landing on your right foot. Immediately bound back to the left, landing on your left foot. Continue alternating sides.
Like any other exercise, start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts over time. You should avoid doing plyometric exercises if you have any pain, and stop doing them before the fatigue sets in.