Are you into hardcore gymming or are you an exercise enthusiast? If you are, then you must have heard of the plyometric exercises. So what are plyometric exercises and why can they be such an important part of our fitness regime? Quite simply, they are very similar to how we played as kids; you know, the games that had hop, skip and jump kind of movements.
Also known as ‘jump training’, this set of dynamic moves or high-intensity exercises such as calisthenics are an awesome alternative to boring cardio routines. These moves can make up an entire session or can be a small part of another routine. All in all, it enhances your muscle power, strength, agility, and balance. Athletes swear by plyometric exercises as jumping with high-intensity exercises stretches the muscles, helping them jump even further.
The term “plyometric” was first coined by Fred Wilt, he got the stroke of inspiration when he watched Soviet athletes enhance their performance, readying themselves for their events in track and field. He felt this was what upped their performance quotient. He began collaborating with master trainer Michael Yessis of Russia to devise a set of exercises.
Benefits of Plyometric Exercises
Plyometric workouts are all about quick energetic movements which are not only about losing the extra flab but also gaining muscle mass. An athlete can train hard by the help of plyometric moves and increase their stamina several notches higher. They are not only suitable for athletes, even common people who are new to fitness can add these to their repertoire to significantly increase their fitness level. So what are the reasons for you to try plyometric exercises?
Plyo moves increase the force and speed of the contractions of your muscles. So, you won’t see only track and field athletes embracing these exercises. Other sports which take help of these moves are soccer, tennis, rugby, martial sports, basketball and so on. The fact of the matter is that it is not only useful to enhance your sports performance, but to also strengthen your body for those everyday movements. The other important benefits of these exercises are as follows.
- It is definitely a performance enhancer- If you are into running, you should definitely practice plyometric moves since they help enhance your running speed. Your athletic performance will definitely hit the roof if you work upon those mean muscles by the help of plyometric exercises. An athlete cannot think of doing without these moves. If you are an athlete and have some goals to conquer, then make sure you include these moves in your regime.
- Muscle power- You can build your muscles with the help of these exercises. Build up the strength of your legs and hands. So if you feel like you lack strength in your legs, you know which exercises can do the trick for you. Also, these moves will protect you from injuries. These are body-weight exercises, you use your body to enhance the movement of your muscles and strengthen your body.
- Lose weight- So these exercises are not only about strong muscles, because you beef up and increase your metabolism and thus end up losing weight. You will also burn calories when you are resting. You need more energy for the maintenance of your muscles than you need for the maintenance of the fat, so more calories are burned.
- Build up your endurance- For a big sporting event; you need more power to sustain you for those times when you have to give your peak performance. The trick is to expend more energy without sacrificing your stamina. So if you save on energy at the start of the event, you can use the energy at the end of the event. This is why athletes swear by plyometric moves.
- You don’t need any equipment- Plyometric exercises do not need any type of equipment, you can do it anywhere you want. So you do not need to dig deep into your pockets to buy expensive equipment, you can complete exercises with different kinds of props from home.
Top 10 Plyometric Exercises for Weight Loss
Getting up every morning and motivating yourself to hit the gym can be a bit trying for most people. But what about doing exercises within the confines of your own home? Is it very difficult? Not really, so if you have good makeshift equipment at home, you can transform your body within a very short period of time.
You will have a combination of a lean and muscular body if you exercise right. So what are the ideal exercises which will help you retain muscles and knock off the extra kilos?
Tap your toes
This is a challenging move which works all your muscles, it can be a little tough to sustain this for a longer period, the trick is to build up stamina gradually.
Stand before a box. Place your right foot on top of the surface near the edge to form right angles your leg from your standing position. Place the right ball of the foot touching but not resting on the surface, jump as you switch feet, landing with the left ball of the foot touching the surface. Switch back to the right foot to complete one repetition. Keep alternating feet with a jump in between each switch, all the while taking care not to put pressure on your feet. Repeat at your own pace for thirty seconds.
Another exercise which puts to test your stamina. It’s a full body exercise which puts greater emphasis on the lower part of the body..
Step up your feet; keep a hip-width distance between your legs as you try to get into a comfortable lunge position. Step the right foot back and sink the hips down so that both legs form right angles, the left knee is behind the left toe, and engage the core to get the proper balance.
Jump out of the lunge position and into the air, exchanging feet positions so that when you land softly, the right leg is in front of you and the left leg is behind you. Slip into another lunge.
Jump again and switch sides again to complete one repetition. Keep trying alternating lunges with the jumping transition; be careful how you jump as you need to cushion your knees. Repeat at your own pace for 30 seconds.
This move looks simple but it is very difficult to master, and you expend a lot of energy while performing these jumps to perfection.
Stand with your feet together. Lower into a crouching position with your hands comfortably placed either in front of your toes or beside your feet. You can lift onto the toes if you feel uncomfortable keeping them flat. Do try to jump with a sudden burst of energy; elevating both hands and feet to jump into the air as high as you can. Once up, reach both arms and legs out diagonally to form a star shape with your body. Keep your core engaged to keep your body straight and controlled while in the air. Bring all limbs back to center as you land softly on the floor, and return to the crouched position where you started. That’s one repetition. Repeat at your own pace for 30 seconds.
Burpees are a real tough nut to crack. Just doing a few repetitions can get you huffing and puffing. No wonder it works on most of the body’s muscles and can give stiff competition to all gym equipment.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Try and reach your hands down toward your feet as you crouch down. Jump your feet back behind you, and land your body into a plank position with the hands stacked beneath the shoulders and core engaged. As soon as you form the plank position, quickly lower your body completely to the floor. Use your core and upper body strength to form a push-up position at a controlled pace to return to that plank position. Jump or walk the feet back up to the hands. Stand and raise your arms above your head to complete one complete move. Repeat at your own pace for 30 seconds.
You might have done jumping jacks in the standing position, this is a similar move but in the plank position. This works on the core as you need to continuously keep the core engaged.
Kneel and drop into a comfortable plank position, hands stacked beneath the shoulders, core tight and hips tucked. Keep your hips as level as possible, jump both feet out wide beyond shoulder-width, like you’re attempting a horizontal jumping jack with the lower part of the body. Jump your feet back to the starting plank position to complete one repetition. Repeat at your own pace for 30 seconds.
Weighted Lateral Jumps
This is a pretty similar move to box jumps; this plyometric exercise builds your jumping ability and thus your whole body strength. It also makes your lower body and leg muscles strong. Your flexibility increases manifold with this energetic move.
Place a barbell on the ground and take help of two weighted plates. Adjust the weighted plate size as per your leaping ability. The bigger the weight, the higher the bar. Stand with your feet 6 inches apart to the side of the barbell. Hold a weighted plate or medicine ball over your head. You can adjust the weight as per your capability. Bend your knees slightly but put your feet close together. Hop over the bar and back with continuous movements, staying light on your feet.
This move challenges the strength of your legs. Increase your power and strength with this challenging move.
If you want to up your dynamic coordination, you cannot beat this move. Push into a jog. Push off the left foot as it lands and during push off, bring right knee to 90 degrees so thigh is exactly parallel to the ground. As you’re in the air, reach with your arms in a forward motion. Repeat with pushing off right foot. The aim is to cover as much distance per stride.
You have tried normal pushups, now it is time to try this one for greater challenge.
Set up a low platform; you can also try the first step of a staircase. Form the pushup start position, with one hand resting on the flat ground, and one hand on the platform. The platform shouldn’t be too high, it should be just below seven inches. Do a pushup, and on your press, jump over to the opposite side, so that your opposite hand is on the box, and the other on flat ground. Continuously crawl back and forth, only until you are totally out of breath.
Box Squat jump
Take your box jump to another level. As you get used to the simpler moves, challenge yourself and reach the next level.
Put up a box that brings you to a parallel squat when you sit down on it. In front of it, put up a higher box that reaches up to thigh level. Try to slowly squat to the low box until you sit down. Pause on the box for a split second, but be sure to keep your muscles activated. From the dead stop; explode off the ground and onto the higher box. It would seem like you literally jumping off the box.
There are umpteen variations to the squat move. When you have mastered the squat, try this move for greater challenge.
Start from a high plank position, jump your feet forward into a wide squat and bring hands off the ground either into a prayer position or bring your hands in front of your chest. Keep your back straight, shoulders down, and chest out while down into a low squat. Pause for a split second, then place hands on the ground and jump feet back into the plank position. Keep repeating until you are out of breath.
Push Up to Squat
When debating between a squat and a push-up, we suggest to combine the two! This is indeed an advanced move which challenges every muscle in your body.
Start in the traditional push-up position, and then quickly push through the hands as explosively as possible to gather speed. As the body rises, bring the knees to the chest and simultaneously bring the feet to land under the body. When you land, push yourself to perform a deep squat. Hold it for a second and then jump back into a push-up position to repeat.
Though these exercises are meant to be for everyone out there who wants to reach their fitness goals, newbies have to watch out, as we advise you to take baby steps before you promote yourself up there to take a giant stride. Good form is priority number one, and you have to give your hundred percent. Most of them are no equipment workouts, so you have got to bid all those excuses a firm adieu. Give it your all, and soon you will be able to flaunt the body of your dreams with plyometric exercises.
Another 10 Best Plyometric Exercises
Squat jumps are high intensity exercises that induce the burning of fat stored in the tissues and increases energy and stamina. This exercise targets the abdominal, hip and leg muscles. It speeds up the heart rate and helps in burning more calories compared to traditional squats.
Stand straight with your hands clasped in front of your chest and your legs shoulder width apart, lower in to a squat and jump up as high as you can while bringing your feet together in midair and land on the squat position. Repeat it as many times as you can in 30 seconds. This comprises of 1 set. Repeat 2 to 3 sets at a stretch with a gap of 60 seconds between each set.
Although double jumps are a bit complicated, yet its effectiveness in burning calories makes it an ideal exercise for weight loss. It targets the stubborn and difficult to lose flab of the tummy and helps in toning the hips and legs.
Lower your body to a deep squat position with your arms bends and held upward. Jump up as high as you can from the squat position and land in a lunge position with your right knee bend and your left foot placed forward, jump up from the lunge position and land in a squat position. Again jump up and land in the lunge position with left knee bend and right foot forward. Repeat it for 1 minute at a stretch which makes 1 set. Repeat 2 to 3 sets at a stretch with a gap of 60 seconds between each set.
Scissor jumps are one of the most effective core strength building exercises that help in improving the power of the most important muscles of the body. It helps in toning the abdomen and giving you a lean look by reducing inches from the entire body.
Stand straight with your left foot forward and your right foot back, your right arm forward and left arm back. Now jump up as high as you can in the air and swap your hands and legs instantly like a scissor so that your right foot and left arm comes forward and left foot and right arms goes back. On landing, jump again instantly and swap the legs and arms as before. Repeat it at a stretch for 30 seconds which makes 1 set. Repeat 2 to 3 sets at a stretch with a gap of 60 seconds between each set.
Lateral lunge is an essential exercise for toning the thighs, legs and hips. It also helps in increasing flexibility, movement and agility. It is a complete leg exercise that works out both the inner and the outer thighs, calves, hamstrings and glutes.
Stand straight with your hands placed near your chest. Stretch out your left leg and bend your left knee to lower your body from the waist towards the floor while keeping your right leg unbend, touch the floor in front of the left foot with your right hand while placing your left hand on the left thigh. Push up and take two strides to the right and again repeat the same on the other side. This entire movement makes 1 set. Repeat it 15 to 20 times at a stretch.
Single Legged Hops
This simple exercise is easy to do but helps in toning the abdomen, butt and leg muscles effectively. It also helps in improving muscular agility, speed and strength so that you can do more strenuous exercises without injuring yourself.
Mark you target on the floor where you want to land your each hop with a chalk. Stand on your right foot with your left leg raised behind you. Hop to the first dot in front of you and immediately hop back to the starting position. Continue hopping back and forth for 30 seconds and repeat the same with the other foot. Repeat 3 to 4 sets with each foot.
The box jump is more effective than leg presses and leg extensions in working out the leg muscles. It not only tones the muscles of the lower body, but also helps in shaping the muscles of the upper body. It helps to boost the metabolism and speed up fat burning thus promoting weight loss.
Stand straight with an aerobic stepper placed front of you. Place your feet shoulder width apart and come to a squat position and immediately jump onto the stepper and land softly in a squat position on the balls of your feet, jump off the stepper and land in a squat position. Repeat it again in succession as fast as possible and continue for 40 seconds which forms 1 set. Repeat 3 to 4 sets with 1 minute of gap between each set.
The Plank hop is a full body workout that helps in toning the shoulders, arms, abdomen, hips, quadriceps and hamstrings. It helps in working out several muscles at a time and helps in developing stamina and increasing strength.
Start off with the plank posture, hop your feet to form a V and then hop back to the start position, and straighten your arms to raise your torso up from the floor, come back to the plank pose by lowering your arms. Repeat the entire exercise for 40 seconds at a stretch that makes 1 set. Repeat 3 to 4 sets with 1 minute of gap between each set.
Pop up is one of the most difficult plyometric exercises that people love to hate, but its effectiveness in speeding up calorie burning and weight loss makes it a popular exercise in power training. It targets the muscles of shoulders, arms, hips and legs and increases agility.
Lie down on the floor on your stomach and place your palms at the side of your chest, toes curled under. Lift up your body with a push up and jump to your feet with your right foot placed forward and your left foot behind, in a squat position and your hands in front of your chest. Return to the starting position immediately and push up again to land in a squat posture with your left foot placed forward and your right foot behind. Continue it for 40 seconds at a stretch.
Straddle jump is much like box jumps and helps in improving speed and strength of leg muscles. It works out the inner thighs, hip flexors and calf muscles. It also helps in building lean muscle tissues and burning fat in an effective manner.
Stand straight with your feet on either side of a low bench that is 2.5 feet wide with your hands bend and held in front of your chest. Push your hips back and come to a squat position and in one movement jump off the ground and land on the bench in a squat position. Now, jump off the bench and repeat it again as fast as you can for 40 seconds at a stretch which makes 1 set. Repeat 3 to 4 sets at a stretch with a gap of 1 minute in between each set.
Last but not the least comes the skaters move that is not difficult to perform and is indeed a fun way of toning your legs. It also helps in improving agility and movement and improves sports performance. The constant extending and contracting of the muscles and tissues help in improving strength and burning calories more effectively.
Stand straight and bring your left leg behind you, the left foot touching the ground, now bend your right knee a bit to lower your hips and leap off slightly as you bring your left leg forward and land softly on the balls of your right foot placing it behind your left foot. Repeat the same movement in reverse direction immediately as fast as you can and continue for 1 minute which makes 1 set. Repeat 3 to 4 sets at a stretch with a gap of 1 minute in between each set.
But before you hit off with your plyometric regime, be careful about injuries. The most important thing is to wear a pair of comfortable sports shoes. It is best to start off with light, low intensity exercises and gradually increase the pace and difficulty as you increase strength.