As a fitness traveler, you’re dedicated to getting strong, fit and healthy wherever you are in the world. The problem is, once you reach a certain level of fitness your standard workouts might not be enough to help you achieve your goals. Luckily, that’s where advanced training methods such as plyometrics come in. This article is going to explain what they are, their benefits and how to use them as part of your training.
First Off, What are Plyometrics?
Put simply, plyometric exercises are movements where muscles are expected to produce maximal force in very short periods of time. This means that the muscle will be taught to forcefully contract, and subsequently get extremely good at producing the force on demand. The term ‘plyometrics’ was actually coined by American athlete Fred Wilt, who used it to describe the strange jumping and bounding movements used by Soviet athletes in preparation for track and field events.
Nowadays, the term has become quite popular, especially with the growth of CrossFit, and is used to describe any jumping based workout, but at its heart plyometric training should always involve short, quick and explosive movements.
Some Video Examples for You (From easiest to hardest on your body)
What are the Benefits of Plyometrics?
As we mentioned above, the primary benefit of plyometric training is that it teaches muscles to contract forcefully, thus helping people to get better at forceful, explosive type movements. It is also an effective way of increasing the strength of muscles, as well as adapting your body to shock forces and learning to better absorb impacts.
What’s more, due to the very nature of plyometrics, their execution requires the development of good coordination, balance and motor skills.
Who is This Type of Training Best For? (And Who Should Avoid it?)
Plyometrics are great for more advanced fitness travelers. They’re pretty much ideal if you’re a regular sports player with a history of body weight and weights based strength training.
Intermediate level fitness enthusiasts can also benefit from plyometrics, but should probably use them much more sparingly as they build up strength and impact tolerance.
We really don’t advise plyometric training for beginners, so if you’re just starting out maybe give these a miss for a while and focus on some more basic training. We say this because as a beginner you simply won’t have developed the necessary strength in your muscles, ligaments, and joints to withstand regular high impact. Chances are if you do a full plyometric based workout you’ll just end up with super sore legs for about a week!
Reps, Sets, and Rest
Since plyometric training is all about fast, explosive movements it uses your creatine phosphate energy system. Without getting all ‘sciency’ (although it is quite fun if you google it!) this energy system is great for bursts of energy lasting less than ten seconds. After those ten seconds are up the energy system can take up to 4 minutes to fully recover.
With all this mind we recommend keeping those reps really low and focusing on quality. Something like 1 to 4 reps should be plenty. Anything more than this will take more than ten seconds and won’t be training the same qualities.
If you’re only doing 1-4 reps, then you’ll have to get your work in by performing multiple sets. Anywhere between 3 and 8 sets should be good, though we recommend starting at the lower end and seeing how your body feels about it.
Since the energy system you’re using takes up to 4 minutes to recover, you’ll have to allow AT LEAST 2 minutes in between every single set, ideally more if you’ve got the time. Remember, you’re focusing on quality, super-high-intensity efforts. It can be handy to use a stopwatch, as you will probably feel fully recovered before you actually are fully recovered.
How to Use Plyometrics as Part of Your Own Training Programme
If you’re an intermediate to advanced level fitness enthusiast with a good amount of training behind you, then you probably want to know how best to fit plyo training into your program. Well, like any form of training the general idea is to start with small amounts and build up over time.
So you could start including plyometrics in one of your training days (before your other normal exercises) with something like 3 sets of 3 reps. If you respond well to this and your body recovers within 48 hours then you can increase for next time. Therefore your next workout might be 4 sets of 3 reps.
You might eventually get to the point of using plyometrics 3 days per week for 8 sets each day, but that will definitely take some time. Plus, remember that you’re training to get fitter and more powerful, less is often more, and that whilst there may be awards for fitness, there aren’t any awards for most time spent training!
Are You Ready to Jump on Board?
Okay, we’re sorry for the terrible pun (it was irresistible) but if you’re looking for some more advanced training methods that you can use whilst traveling then plyometrics really could be a handy addition to your toolbox. Plus with all that extra power and strength you build you’ll be leaping with joy in no time! (Last pun we promise)