Plyometric exercises describe a way of exercising to improve muscle explosiveness.
Plymetric exercises, if you think about how they are performed, mimic the kind of ancient movements that are part of our basic DNA. However, due to our mostly sedentary lifestyle today, the only people doing these types of exercises on a regular basis are athletes and those who have a type of work that requires a lot of varied physical responses.
What are plyometric exercises?
Simply, exercises designed to make you stronger by improving the flexibility and performance of muscles and surrounding tissue.
When you have trained in plyometric exercises –or "plyos"—you will be able to do everything a bit better, faster and harder. You might also find that you are able to increase your speed and force for the muscles trained.
Plyometric exercises, such as the tuck jump, repeatedly load a muscle and then contract it, and these exercises are done quickly in sequence.
If you are an athlete in sports such as track and field, football, basketball or martial arts, for instance, you will benefit greatly from plyos.
It goes back to the mind-muscle connection.
Plyometric exercises, done repeatedly, train the nerves to react in a certain way, unconsciously. This training will give muscles and its surrounding tissues automatic signals to opt for peak performance. Muscle strength does not automatically translate into muscle power. Plyometerics will ultimately give you both strength and power. It will greatly improve your fast twitch muscles, those being responsible for quick reactions. Think a sprinter at the blocks and the explosive power needed to push out and gain full speed almost immediately. Think a tiger quickly springing on its prey.
A muscle will not move unless it is first shortened. It can only shorten a certain amount normally. When a muscle has had the advantage of plyometric training it can actually lengthened just prior to its normal contraction it will produce greater power. Plyometric exercises will train the body to store that additional bit of what is called elastic energy and shorten what is known as the stretch shortening cycle. In other words, in mico seconds, the trained body will have just that much more energy to translate in to power.
Plyometric exercises are not for the just-off-the-couch types. This is because these exercises are meant for those who are in some degree of physical shape already. Most involve fast movements or the actual jumping from one plane level to another. Even trained athletes should be under supervision when doing plyos.
Box jumps are plyometric exercises. Two boxes are used. One is set between 12 to 30 inches high and the other lower. The procedure is to jump straight up and land on the box. Then step down and do it again – up to 50 to 75 times. The landing on the top box is to be done softly, so you can see the amount of training and physical shape you must be in to even start plyos.
Plyometric exercises are a new wave of exercises, where it is understood that through the strengthening of muscles and nerves, and a training of the mind to control their function, greater power and strength will be automatically delivered to the athlete or competitor.