Monday, August 29, 2011

Plyometrics

Plyometrics…ever heard of it? It is a vigorous, high intensity form of exercise, sometimes known as jump training. It involves explosive high-impact movements that "load" or stretch muscles before rapidly contracting them.

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, plyos refer to activities that enable a muscle to reach maximal force in the shortest possible time.

Sounds pretty great, right? They are!

They are a great alternative to “regular” workout days like running and exercise machines. Working different muscles, and definitely strengthening them, does the body lots of good. And, they are pretty easy to add to a workout program. Just tailor them to your level and you are good to go!

Start out with 10 to 15 minutes of warm-up, like a light jog or elliptical workout. Then, mix and match some sets of these exercises, repeating them at least 1 time, or more if you can.

Squat Jumps
Squat jumps are one of the lowest-intensity plyometric lower body exercises. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, back straight and torso angled forward slightly. Bend your elbows to approximately 90 degrees and keep them tucked near your sides. Lower your butt until your thighs are parallel with the ground. Immediately spring upwards, jump off the ground and lift your arms toward the ceiling. As you jump into the air, keep your legs extended and avoid tucking your feet near your buttocks. Land on the balls of your feet, rest for a second and then repeat the sequence.

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Bounding
Although it might seem difficult to coordinate at first, bounding is simply an exaggerated version of running. Begin by simply jogging in a straight line. After a few feet, explode off your right leg forcefully as you push your left arm forward. Then, explode quickly off your left leg and bring your right arm forward. Continue bounding forward in the exaggerated motion without stopping between bounds.
(Bounding sort of reminds me of running like a deer…)

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Plyometric Push-ups
For plyometric push-ups, you'll want to use the traditional push-up position (on knees or hands). Place your hands slightly wider than and just behind your shoulders. Keep your core muscles contracted and maintain a straight line from head to heels. Lower yourself to the ground as if you're doing a traditional push-up. Then, explosively push yourself up so that your hands lift off the ground. As you fall back onto your hands, immediately lower back into another push-up. Continue the explosive motions, allowing no pause between repetitions.

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Some other ideas –

  • for legs, try some box jumps, jump rope, tuck jumps or jumping lunges
  • chest and back, try lateral jumps. They help strengthen upper body stabilization muscles
  • for your mid section, try the ball to the wall workout. Stand near a wall with a medicine ball in your hands at one hip. Throw it against the wall, using your torso muscles, and catch it on the other side.

~What are your favorite plyo moves?

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