Written by Adam Dull, Personal Trainer @ O2 Fitness Cary
Plyometric exercises are based on the premise that stretching a muscle immediately before contracting it takes advantage of the stretch reflex to provide more explosive power.
For example, a common plyometric exercise called the jump squat involves starting from a squat position, then jumping straight into the air and landing back in the squat position. What happens during the exercise is that the quadriceps and glutes, which are the muscles responsible for the jump, are stretched during the squat phase, but contract immediately for the upward phase. When this exercise is performed one after another, the muscles undergo a stretch/contract mechanism that helps boost the strength and control of the movement.
It is important that plyometric training be tailored to the athlete's sport. A runner would have no reason to master the medicine ball throw, but would benefit greatly from bounding or box jumps. A well-designed plyometric program uses exercises that mimic the motions encountered during competition. This way, the repetitive nature of the exercises allow muscle memory to develop, and the athlete has an opportunity to develop reflexive safety techniques that would serve him well in a game. A basketball player would be well-served by a series of lateral lunges that would help him block his opponent more effectively, while a soccer player would benefit more from scissor kicks, which would strengthen the muscles necessary to power him down the field.
Do you want to try Plyometrics? Get in touch with an O2 Personal Trainer!