Fred Wilt, US Olympic long distance runner and track and field coach came up with the term plyometrics. Loosely defined it means measured increases. The primary benefit of plyometric training is the speed with which it leads to increased muscle strength. Quite popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s among athletes concerned with running faster and jumping higher, plyometrics is enjoying new relevance for athletes and amateurs of all types.

What is Plyometric Training?

Formerly known as jump training Plyometrics lead the muscles through what is called a stretch shortening cycle. In the strength shortening cycle the muscle is first engaged in a lengthening or eccentric phase then in a concentric or shortening phase. The idea is that your muscles will be more powerful because of the tension stored during the short phase of the stretch. Good examples of plyometric exercises include hopping,

Plyometric Exercises

Plyometric exercises improve stability and bone density. They also strengthen muscles and burn calories and fat. Here are a few you can try today:

Jump Squat Combo

–  Stand with your feet hip width apart.

–  Squat as if you are about to seat your bottom on a chair.

–  Just before your bottom might actually touch the chair jump as high as you can.

–  Upon landing, squat and immediately jump up again.

Work up to one set of 20 reps.

Lift Tuck Jump Combo 

–  Lie on your back with both knees bent and both feet planted firmly on the floor

–  Raise both arms toward the ceiling

–  Roll your body forward to a standing position – (be sure to keep abs tuck in, imagine drawing your naval up and into your spine)

–  Jump high and move while moving your heels toward your bottom (imagine sitting on your knees in mid-air). Keep arms extended straight in front of your body.

–  Work up to one set of 10 reps.

Single Leg Run Hop Combo

–  Run in place but with your knees high (moving toward your chest) as if you are attempting to jump over a bar.

–  Work up to two sets of 10 minutes.

Jump Rope

–  You remember this one! Get a sturdy rope and jump as high and as fast as you can. Go slow if it has been a while. Gradually build strength and speed to avoid injury – you don’t want to trip.

–  Work up to two sets of 10 minutes.

A great benefit of plyometrics is the efficient production of muscle strength it provides. You don’t need any special equipment or training to build more muscle power or endurance. You just need to get started. Because many plyometric exercises involve jumping or other body impacting movements, be sure to wear shoes that provide good cushioning.