What are plyometrics? Plyometric exercises are some of the best exercises for training fast and powerful movement. Unfortunately, not many people have heard of them or know what they are. So...
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Plyometrics are exercises that are designed to train your body in fast, explosive movement. They are also sometimes called proprioceptive neuro-muscular facilitation (PNF), since it's designed to make the nervous system more efficient.
All the exercises are designed to make a muscle (or muscle group) contract with maximum force and speed — to make it more powerful.
Power is the amount of force your muscles can produce in a given period of time. So, making a contraction more powerful means that the muscle will be able to produce more force in a shorter amount of time.
Plyometric training is able to make your movements more powerful by using several different principles together. The answer to "What are plyometrics doing to me?" is:
These 3 principles working together make your muscle contractions more powerful. The neurons get better coordinated so that the muscle contracts all at once.
Plyometrics are great for sports and martial arts training. Basically, they're good for any endeavor that needs powerful movement, which makes it saddening when I talk to someone who wants to, say, jump higher, who then asks me, "So, um, what are plyometrics stuff?"
When lifting in the gym, it normally takes up to 0.8 seconds to fully engage a muscle, but most movements in sports happen much faster than that (jumping, swinging a bat, snapping a punch out, etc.). Use plyometric exercises to enhance those movements.
It's also important to strengthen the whole body and get it working together. Having more powerful legs is great, but you need a strong core that will transmit that explosive movement to your upper body as you move forward.
Plyometrics can be great exercise, but they are strenuous and can really injure you. Follow these guidelines to keep your workouts fruitful and safe.
Never do plyometrics on linoleum or concrete.
By now you have a handle on plyometric exercises and why they work. So, when someone asks you, "what are plyometrics?" you can give them a good, helpful answer.
Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!
What Are Plyometrics? They're...
1. Brooks, George A., Thomas D. Fahey, and Kenneth M. Baldwin. 2005. Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and Its Applications. Boston: McGraw-Hill. Pp. 401.
Chu, Donald A. 1998. Jumping Into Plyometrics. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
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