When you hear the word ‘plyos’ or plyometric training, you may immediately envision someone endlessly box jumping or doing burpees around the gym. Or you’ll have heard the word thrown around when talking about how basketballers train, to emulate the movements of the game. Often referred to as jump style training, Plyometrics describe physical movements that allow a muscle to exert the maximum amount of power in the shortest amount of time. You may be familiar with both the eccentric and the concentric phase of an exercise, such as the ‘up’ and ‘down’ movements involved in a Bicep Curl. During a plyometric movement, a muscle undergoes the eccentric movement and is immediately followed by the concentric phase, and both occur within a short amount of time.
So what are those people you see jumping around the gym actually achieving? Participating in this form of training allows you to perform explosive movements at a higher intensity, and therefore exert a greater force within in a shorter amount of time. You may have heard that muscles are comprised of both Fast Twitch and Slow Twitch fibres. Fast Twitch fibres are responsible for heavy lifting and explosive movements, whereas Slow Twitch fibres are responsible for endurance based activities which do not exert much strength or power, such as distance running. Plyometric Training can improve the efficiency and strength of Fast Twitch muscle fibres. So what does this mean? Increased muscle power, speed and strength; therefore more muscle mass and PRs for you!
We’ve devised a full body Plyometric Workout designed to target all major muscle groups. If followed correctly, you can train your Fast Twitch muscle fibres to produce a greater amount of force, which will see you lifting more weight for more reps!
What You’ll Need:
- Skipping Rope
- Soft Medicine Ball
- An AWESOME Pre-Workout
Warm Up: Skipping and Burpees
Skipping is a great warm up exercise for any workout, but specifically beneficial for Plyometrics as the explosive action created through the entire leg not only warms up our primary area of focus (legs), but in itself is a plyometric exercise as we are more or less continually shortening the available space for the leg muscles to generate sufficient power to complete each skip.
The Burpee is also a fantastic warm up Plyometric movement, as it not only targets our legs through the squat jump motion, but also the explosive power in our push muscles (ie. Chest, Shoulders and Tricep). However, make sure your Chest touches the ground so as to fully stretch your muscles, and maximise the amount of power you can generate through the push-up motion.
Set 1-3: Complete 1 minute of skipping, non-stop; followed by 5 Burpees
Set 4-6: Challenge set. Count the number of skips you perform in the previous working set, and aim to perform more than this number for the next three sets. Complete 5 burpees after each attempt.
*Rest for one minute between sets
Exercise 1: Broad Jumps S/S Goblet Squats
Broad Jumps are the perfect exercise to give you an idea of just how powerful your plyometric ability is. Essentially you are trying to achieve the longest possible jump forward from a standing start.
The way to generate the highest amount of power for this exercise is to first drop into a deep squat, so all your primary driving muscles (ie. Hip Flexors, Glutes, Calves) are fully stretched, ready to utilize the entire muscle for the jump. Then as you extend out of the squat, swing your arms forward so as to redistribute where your body is going to be propelled as you complete the movement. This will mean that as you extend out and the forward momentum will carry you onto your toes, enabling you to maximise the power generated through your hips and knees before the final release through your ankles.
Lift your knees up as you are carried through the air, so you can land comfortably on your heels with soft knees in a deep squat. Once landed, stand up and begin again.
Goblet Squats are a shortened squat designed to target the development of the Glutes. Glute power is essential in the development of our plyometric ability as it is normally underdeveloped AND underutilized throughout the rest of our training. The more power that can be generated from the Glute muscles, the greater the force generated through Hip Extension, therefore increasing our ability to jump higher and further. Force on your Glutes contracting during the exercise.
Set 1: 10 x Broad Jumps S/S 20x Body Weight Squats
Set 2-3: 10 x Broad Jumps S/S 20 x Goblet Squats (choose a Dumbell size you feel is appropriate).
In these sets, we want to test how far you can jump. Place your drink bottle at your feet to mark your starting position, push yourself to get as far forward with your first 5 jumps, drop your training towel to mark where you jumped to, then attempt to return to your starting point with your remaining 5 jumps. Complete Goblet Squats after. If you achieve 20 Reps comfortably, increase weight.
Set 4: – 10x Broad Jumps S/S 20 x Goblet Squats.
Now that we have a benchmark, attempt to beat how far you previously jumped the first 5 Broad Jumps up. Remember if you do jump further, place the marker at your toes so it is at the furthest point from where you started. Complete Goblet Squats after. If you achieve 20 Reps comfortably, increase weight again.
Exercise 2: Plyometric Push Ups S/S Ball Slams
Plyometric Push-Ups are similar to standard push-ups, which are performed on either your knees or toes with your hands placed underneath your shoulders. You should lower your body weight toward the ground, keeping your neck aligned by facing downwards. When at the bottom of the movement, instead of simply pushing through your hands into the ground while squeezing your chest to return to the starting position, you are to explosively push off of the ground so that your upper body and hands leave the ground. It doesn’t matter if your hands barely make it off the ground, the point is that you exert a large amount of force through your chest muscles, and fire your Fast Twitch muscle fibres.
Balls Slams involve using a weighted object (preferably soft and designed to be thrown around), and bringing this object above the head only to be thrown onto the ground with maximum effort. You should stand with your feet at a shoulder distance apart, with a slight bend in your knees and your abdominal muscles turned on.
Set 1: 20 x Normal Push Ups (on knees or toes) S/S 10 x Wall Balls**
**Wall balls involve standing one metre away from a wall and throwing a medicine ball (or similar) against the wall approximately one metre above the height of your head, but working up to 2 x your body height. Your Legs and Core should remain switched on, but the movement is all in the upper body. After you throw the ball, ensure your knees remain soft when catching it again above you head, with you arms extended but slightly bent.
Set 2-4: 30 seconds worth of Plyometric Push Ups** S/S 30 seconds of Ball Slams**
** For each set, you are to count the number of push-ups or ball slams you are able to complete within the given time. For each proceeding set, aim to increase the number of exercises you perform
Exercise 3: Barbell Squats (4:1:0 Tempo)
Barbell Squats is an old favourite we all know and love (well… sometimes) that is typically associated with powerlifting and strength development. What we are essentially trying to do with this next exercise is manipulate the strength aspect to focus on the explosive capability of our legs, while continuing the overall development by increasing the time under tension experienced by the muscle.
The idea of the increasing the time under tension is by putting the muscle under longer bouts of strain, you can cause extensive muscle breakdown. This is achieved mostly through the eccentric (or downward) phase of the squat, where we are aiming to take 4 seconds to lower into the ATG (Ass To Grass) position. The aim is to then explode upward in a single second, almost as if you are trying to jump, but without your feet leaving the ground. This is where our plyometric capabilities will increase due to the weight of the Barbell disrupting your explosive movement upwards, and therefore your legs need to draw as much power as possible within space available.
Set 1: 15 x BB Squats (Normal 1:1 Time)
Use this first set as a warm-up for the movement, and also give you a judgement for the weight you will use for the remainder of the exercise. The most important element throughout a Time Under Tension based exercise is maintaining correct form. You don’t need to go too heavy, as the breakdown will occur as a result of the constant strain on the muscle. If your form begins to drop at any stage throughout the exercise, decreasing the weight is allowed. Besides, after spending 4 seconds controlling the eccentric motion of the squat all the way into ATG position, you still need to be able to EXPLODE back into the starting position, not simply return to standing at a slow speed.
Set 2: 10 x 4:1:0 BB Squats
The weight on the bar should roughly be 60% of your 1RM, but again make the judgement call based on your first set. Control the eccentric motion so you time the completion of ATG position upon counting to 4. Once you hit the bottom of the rep, EXPLODE up to a standing position, again as if you are trying to jump without leaving the ground. Be careful not to lock out your hips and knees. Maintain soft joints not only protects you against potentially damaging your body, but also means that your muscles remain under constant tension, and therefore increase the amount of breakdown that occurs.
Set 3: 10x 4:1:0 BB Squats
Adjust the weight if necessary. If you achieve the 10 reps with ease, increase the weight by another 5-10kgs. Otherwise, only decrease the weight if your squat form has diminished.
Set 4: 10x 4:1:0 BB Squats S/S 10x Driving Upper Partial BB Squats S/S 10x Upper Partial BB Squats
Prepare yourself… An Upper Partial BB Squat is only dropping to half the rep range of your ATG Squat, and then standing up from there. A “Driving” Upper Partial is again exploding out of the partial rep so at full extension, you are rising up onto your toes. It is almost as if you were to do a calf raise at the end of a squat… only the movement has to be a singular explosive motion rather than 2 separate areas of focus. By doing this, we can maintain our Plyometric focus on the power generated within a shortened range of motion.
So after completing your first 10 reps at 4:1:0 time, rack the weight, count to 5 seconds and rest/shake out your legs, and take the weight back onto your shoulders. Then complete the 10 Driving Upper Partials, immediately followed by the 10 standard Upper Partials.
Exercise 4: Rim Jumps S/S Calf Raises
Ultimately, we are trying to improve our jumping ability with a Plyometric routine… so let’s jump! Rim Jumps are essentially finding something overhead that requires you to jump in order to touch it, ideally quite high so it is a challenge for you to touch it every single time. For some, this might be the top structure bar of a squat rack, the ceiling, or a distinct mark on a wall. Once you have a target, make sure you have a ledge or step nearby for the Calf Raises that will follow the Rim Jumps. The reason we are adding the Calf Raise in as a Super Set is to again increase the Time Under Tension element of the exercise, however this time around, the Plyometric Movement will be the primary focus before increasing muscular breakdown.
Set 1: 20 x Squat Jumps
Set 2: 10 x Rim Jumps S/S 30 x BW Calf Raises
The rep only counts if you touch your target… be honest. Control the movement while doing the Calf Raises. There is no point rushing through the reps and losing the value of the Super Set. Squeeze the calf at the top and lower until you feel a stretched sensation.
Set 3: 20 x Rim Jumps S/S 20 x BW Calf Raises
Keep the movement controlled at a 2:2 tempo for the Calf Raises (so each rep should take a total of 4 seconds).
Set 4: 30x Rim Jumps S/S 10x BW Calf Raises
Since we only have 10 reps for the Calf Raises, we are going to slow it down further, and go to 4:4 Time (each rep should now take 8 seconds).
And that’s it! Remember to record your workout so you can make progress when you try this workout again in the future. This workout can be substituted for a cardio session (as you will definately break into a sweat) or simply added after some resistance based exercises.