Whenever I think of plyometrics, that 90's song from Kris Kross always gets in my head because these moves make you "jump, jump!" Was that a stretch? :)
Anyways, I want to explain training through plyometrics and if they are an appropriate part for your workout routine. Plyometrics are known as "jump training" where you use explosive motion to create movement. Jump Squats, Box Jumps or Medicine Ball Throws are all examples of plyometric training. During the landing or eccentric phase of the movement, your muscle tissue is stretching. This allows your body to store potential energy in order to power you through the next repetition. In other words, imagine your quads are a rubberband during a jump squat. As your feet fall back to the ground and return to the bottom of the squat, you are stretching the rubberband (storing energy). As soon as you begin the explosive movement of lifting your feet off the ground, the rubberband has been released and you are shot into the air. Plyometrics are an ideal training method for gaining power and flexibility in muscle tissue.
Should you be adding plyometrics to your fitness regimen? Depends. If you have just started exercising from being sedentary most of your life, recovering from any joint injury, or have poor balance, I would not recommend that you start plyometric training. This workout method is ideal for athletes or those looking to train like one. I like to put runners through plyometric drills since the action of running is essential light jumping. Any exercisers who can lift their own body weight and show control of body movements is another group I will put through plyometric training. Bottom line, as long as your heart rate and joints can handle the jumping, it is right for you. If at any time during a plyometric exercise, you feel a sharp pain in your joints, immediately discontinue the move. However, you will feel some dull aches throughout the working muscle tissue!
Here are some ways to add plyometrics to your workout routine.
Complete 10 normal squats (with any weights or bands that you choose) then remove any weights and do 5 squat jumps.
Do 10 lunges on each leg (with any weights or bands that you choose) then remove any weights and do 10 scissor lunge jumps.
Complete 10 push-ups. Grab a medicine ball and toss it against a wall 10 times. Try to hit a spot about two feet above your head. (Please inspect the wall or ask the gym which area is appropriate for this exercise).
Lay on the ground and do 10 full sit-ups. Stand up and complete 10 tuck jumps.