Plyometrics are often referred to as jump training. They are more specifically exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximal force in the shortest possible time. In practical terms, plyometrics are quick, powerful movements using a prestretch or counter movement to activate the stretch-shortening cycle.
The purpose of the stretch-shortening cycle activation is to increase the power of the subsequent movements. This will train more power into the exercises.
Lower body plyometrics are exercises that include jumps. Examples are jumps in place, standing jumps, hops and bound, and box drills. The idea is that when you prepare to jump, you squat a small amount. This squat will stretch the muscles a small amount and activate the muscles and tendons to try and recoil from that stretch and activate the muscles to contract. In pushing off from that stretched position, the muscles forcefully contract and push up to jump either into the air or onto a box. This adds to the power of the muscle contraction and trains the muscles to be stronger and more powerful.
For the upper body, throws and catches with medicine balls and pushups that have a phase where there is a push off of the floor create the same plyometric benefit.
Plyometric training is advantageous for anyone, young or old, if it is adjusted to their abilities. Even older athletes can benefit from this training if it is added correctly. Proper technique, strength and balance will help ensure that maximum benefits are gained with less chance of injury.
Something as simple as starting to add 3 sets of 10 jumps or 5min of skipping with a skipping rope once or twice a week will add plyometric exercise to an athletes exercise program. This will allow the start of power training with plyometrics to the program without adding unnecessary cost or time. From there, more advanced training can be added, like box jumps and medicine ball throws, once the initial basic skills are learned. Remember, each individual will have different gains and experiences with the training, and programs must be adjusted for these individual results.
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