Plyometrics involve exercise that use explosive movements in order to develop both muscular power as well as ability to generate large amounts of force very quickly. This is achieved by the rapid alteration of lengthening and shortening of specific muscle groups while continuously applying resistance force to the muscle.
In order to grasp a better understanding of how plyometric exercises stimulate our muscles lets have a closer look at muscle contractions.
There are three different ways in which our muscle can contract: eccentric, concentric and isometric.
An eccentric muscle contraction occurs when your muscle contracts and lengthens at the same time. An example of an eccentric muscle contraction is lowering your self from a chin-up position. The bicep (upper arm) muscle contracts and lengthens as you lower yourself from the chin-up bar.
A concentric muscle contraction occurs when your muscle contracts and shortens at the same time. An example of a concentric muscle contraction is lifting your self into a chin-up position. The bicep muscle contracts and shortens as you raise yourself up to the chin-up bar.
An isometric muscle contraction occurs when your muscle contracts, but does not change in length. An example of an isometric muscle contraction is hanging from a chin-up bar with your arms bent at 90 degrees. The bicep muscle contracts, but does not change in length because you’re not moving up or down.
During a plyometric exercise, an eccentric muscle contraction is quickly followed by a concentric muscle contraction.
Plyometric exercises are often used by athletes in order to develop an explosive power for their chosen sport but recently have been used for both injury prevention and injury rehabilitation.
Essentially plyometric exercises force the muscle to contract rapidly from a full stretch position and in this position muscles tend to be at their weakest point. By conditioning the muscle at its weakest point, (full stretch) it is better prepared to handle this type of stress in a real or game environment.
Furthermore, an eccentric muscle contraction can be up to three times more forceful than a concentric muscle contraction. This is why plyometric exercises are important in the final stage of rehabilitation, to condition the muscles to handle the added strain of eccentric contractions.
However, one must remember that plyometric exercises are not for everyone as they are advanced form of athletic conditioning and can place a massive strain on unconditioned joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles. Please take great caution when during plyometric exercise routine.
Low Intensity Plyometric Exercises:
- Pencil Jump
Stand with your feet parallel and shoulders widths apart, jump as high as possible by pushing off your toes and try to keep your legs straight.
- Low Lateral Jump
Place a marker or draw a line. Stand close to the side of the obstacle, with your feet parallel and ankles close together. While keeping your ankles close together jump up and over obstacle in a side to side motion.
- Ski Jump
Stand on one foot while the other leg is bent at 90 degrees and located under the bottom. Jump from side to side, bounding from one foot to the other.
Medium Intensity Plyometric Exerices
- Tuck Jumps
Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder width apart, jump as high as possible by bringing the knees up to the chest. Hold your arms across the chest during the drill and make sure to have a few practice smaller jumps before you start.
- Squat Jumps
Stand with the feet parallel and shoulder width apart. Place your hands behind the head. Jump up as high as possible during the concentric phase and keep your legs as straight as possible after take-off.
- Ball Wall Throw
Stand opposite a wall while holding a medicine ball to one side, throw the ball across your body and catch it off the wall on the other side of the body.