Want to run faster, jump higher, move quicker and get in better shape, all at the same time? If you’re answer is yes, it’s time for a lesson in plyometrics. Exercises based on plyometrics repeatedly and rapidly stretch muscles and then contract them, improving muscle power. And don’t we all want a little more muscle power, whether it helps us compete in our favorite sport or just perform our daily physical activities a little easier? Here’s your introduction to plyometrics and a sample routine you can do today.
I recall being in awe watching Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt flash across the finish line at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and being so impressed with his speed and ability. I continue to be amazed at top basketball players, tennis players, football players, and other athletes as they jump up in the air repeatedly, skillfully maneuver their arms and legs while airborne, land on a small portion of one or both feet, and then move immediately to the next position – all without falling (usually). I shake my head and say to myself, “Now that is power!” One of the best ways to develop this type of power is through plyometric training.
Plyometric training is used to produce fast, powerful movements and improve the function of the nervous system for explosive power. This helps you create muscular movements in the shortest period of time and is especially beneficial to sprinters and athletes who need to accelerate quickly. Plyometric movements train the muscle to load, unload and then reload in rapid sequence, allowing you to jump higher, run faster, throw farther or hit harder, depending on the desired training goal. In short, plyometrics help us improve our speed because we train the body to jump and land with speed.