5 Plyometric Exercises For Advanced Athletes
When people think about running faster and jumping farther, they tend to focus on strength. They imagine that if they build their muscles up, they will naturally get faster as well, but that is not how the body works. High-level athletes know that in addition to strength training, they also need plyometric exercises, which will add an element of speed and agility to their performance.
Here is what you should know about these workouts:
What are plyometric exercises?
Plyometric exercises focus on building your muscle reflexes. Imagine your body like a spring. Just like a spring can store energy from being wound up and then release it with a sudden, strong force. Your muscles help to hold energy from your previous motions and then release it, which pushes you forward. This explains why you tend to jump higher when you quickly crouch down before making the jump. The crouch down builds up additional energy in your legs, which propels you higher into the air.
Plyometric exercises work to train this reflex and improve the ability of your body to store energy in your legs. Your muscles learn how to store more energy and release it faster, which in turn allows you to run farther and faster.
Plyometrics training is different that strength training, which is more thought-driven. With plyometric exercises, the focus lies in building your muscles to excel with sudden, strong movements. Workouts tend to focus on jumps and speed exercises to build these skills.
How will plyometric exercises improve your running?
Your speed comes from a combination of your muscles and tendons working together. Your body works dynamically. Plyometric exercises work to provide your muscles with intense engagement. The muscles and tendons learn to respond faster and jump farther, which improves your body’s performance.
As you engage in plyometric exercises, your muscles begin to improve in their ability to store energy. Remember that the muscles work like a spring – they store energy and then release it rapidly. By increasing the capacity of the muscles to store energy, they can in turn release the energy with greater force, propelling the body forward.
While the legs learn to store more energy, two main events will occur. First, your body will be able to reach and maintain a certain pace while expending less energy. This will improve your body’s efficiency while you run. You will also be able to improve the strength and rate at which your muscles contract. This will increase your speed and how far you can jump.
There are, of course, various styles of training regimens that runners and other athletes must consider when determining how to train their body for an upcoming event. Plyometric exercises, however, comes backed with science. Scientists have done research to better understand the impact of plyometrics training.
Researchers found, for example, that athletes who engaged in this type of practice saw improvements in their performance. Similarly, researchers at the University of Illinois found that athletes who engaged in plyometrics training saw improved agility in their jumping.
Interestingly, the research on plyometric workouts, however, has shown that not all training works equally. Generally, athletes find the best results occur when they engage in high-intensity plyometric exercises. These workouts should include at least 40 jumps and be completed about 3 to 5 times per week for less than two and a half months.
If you are just starting out, see here for beginner plyometric exercises. If you are more experienced and ready to engage in intense speed exercises, here are great workouts to incorporate into your routine:
Plyometric Exercises For Advanced Athletes
Exercise 1: Jump rope for 30 seconds
Jumping rope can be a great plyometric exercise. The movement forces your body to jump quickly in response to the rope, training your ankles and muscles around them.
Exercise 2: Skater jumps for 20 repetitions
A proper skater jump involves getting into a squat, putting all your weight on one leg. You then push off to the other leg, letting the unused leg move behind you as though you were skating in place. You then repeat the movement onto your other leg for one repetition.
Exercise 3: Front box jumps for 15 repetitions
This exercise requires an exercise box that can support your body weight and will not move when you jump onto it. Place the box about 6 to 8 inches in front of you. Squat and then jump onto the box with two feet. Focus on landing on the balls of your feet.
As you improve with this exercise, you can increase the height of the box or add weights to force your legs to work even harder.
Exercise 4: Alternating lunge jumps for 20 repetitions
To do a lunge jump correctly, you will need to start with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a step back with one leg and get into a lunge position. With one movement, you want to explode upwards, getting both feet off the floor. As you are in the air, switch your feet so that you have reversed your lunge.
Exercise 5: Lateral box jump for 15 repetitions
Begin by placing a box a few inches from you on the side. Crouch down into a squat and then jump up and to the side. Be sure to bring your knees up so that you can get both legs easily over the box.
Plyometric exercises can be an excellent means of improving your speed and jumping abilities. Engaging in one of these intense workouts can be a fantastic way to get started.