What they are and Why they Work….
Plyometric training is used in an extensive range of sports for athletes to reach their peak physical condition. Used appropriately, it can be an effective form of power training. Combined with a suitable strength training program, can be highly effective.
A muscle that is stretched before a concentric contraction, will contract more powerfully and more rapidly. An example is a dip just before a vertical jump. Lowering the centre of gravity quickly, the muscles involved in the jump are momentarily stretched producing a more powerful movement.
Rapid stretch is a result of elastic energy created in the muscles and tendons and then stored (muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs). This stored energy is then released, when the stretch is followed directly by a concentric muscle action. This effect is similar to that of a spring, which wants to return to its natural length. The spring in this case is a constituent of the muscles and tendons called the series elastic component.
When a quick stretch is ascertained in the muscles, an involuntary, protective response occurs to prevent overstretching an injury. These are classified as proprioceptive sensory receptors. The reaction is known as the stretch reflex. This involuntary reflex is needed because our nervous system cannot react quickly enough to prevent injury to our muscles when they are stretched to a certain extent.
By making use of the stretch-shortening cycle, movements can be made more powerful and volatile. Plyometrics is, plainly put, a set of drills designed to stimulate the series elastic component over and over again, preferably during movements and that mimic those is the athletes sport.
How to Do Them….
Simply put, Plyometrics are jumping around with purpose.
There are hundreds of plyometric exercises but I will introduce you to some of the primary basic ones to help you get started.
1 – Squat Jump
Begin at the bottom of the squat position and hold. Once you are here you want to slightly dip your hips down to feel a small stretch in your butt and legs. And quickly jump as high as you can pushing off your toes. (5-8 reps, 3 sets)
2 – Speed Skater
Begin on one foot balanced and hop as far left on that single as you can, immediately after hope to your right. Complete these back to back for 6 reps per leg. Make sure you are balanced before you move to your next hop as this may result in injury. (6 reps, 3 sets)
3 – Standing Long Jumps
For this exercise start with both feet side by side. Lower yourself into and forward squat position and continue to jump as far forward as possible. Once you have landed with both feet together, gain your balance and repeat. (6 reps, 3 sets)
Other Plyometric Exercise Examples.
Box jumps (on and off the box)
Side to side box jumps
Side to side box or step jumps
To get a better understanding check out YouTube for videos that will fully explain how to slightly stretch your muscle before you push off. This is a tricky thing to learn but once you have mastered it, it will become something that will help you significantly in the ring!