Plyometric Training: Jumping and hopping exercises can help improve strength and fitness

It is recommended that you get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. But the part of this advice that people often ignore is that we should do muscle strengthening exercises twice a week.

When we think of muscle strengthening exercises, we often picture people lifting weights at the gym. But there are actually many ways we can strengthen our muscles without going to the gym. For example, carrying grocery bags out of the car or even walking uphill can help us build strength.

One way athletes often improve their strength and power is through a method called plyometric training. This includes any exercise that uses jumping, hopping, or hopping. The aim of plyometric training is to train the muscles, tendons and nervous system to make better use of their elastic energy.

This allows athletes to perform faster, more powerful movements that require less muscular effort. So when a sprinter practices plyometric training, it may be easier for them to reach their top speed and maintain it throughout the race.

But while we might think that plyometric training is a type of exercise that only athletes need to do, it can actually have health benefits for everyone — whether you’re a beginner or an avid athlete.

Benefits for the whole body

“Explosiveness” — which helps athletes jump higher or sprint a little faster — isn’t the only benefit of plyometric exercises.

Studies have shown that plyometric training improves strength, muscle size, and muscle speed while improving coordination. These changes can all lead to better athletic performance – from improved jumping, sprinting, strength and even endurance.

And not only athletes benefit from plyometric training. Research shows that older adults who perform plyometric exercises (eg, vertical jumps) are better able to jump and climb stairs than those who only do resistance training or walking. It has also been shown to improve posture, bone health and reduce body fat in older adults.

In adolescents, jumping rope (a form of plyometric training) has been shown to improve strength, flexibility, and bone density. For adults, it can help improve everything from jumping and sprinting ability to reducing physical strength. It may even improve cardiovascular fitness and flexibility in men and bone density in women.

Because plyometric exercises help improve coordination, they are also commonly used to help people avoid and recover from injuries.

what to know

While plyometric training can be very beneficial, it also carries the risk of injury if the exercises are performed incorrectly.

In the past, it’s been suggested that people shouldn’t do plyometric training unless they can squat one-and-a-half times their body weight—and at the same time balance in a half-squat on one leg for 30 seconds. This could be relevant to more advanced types of plyometric training such as drop jumps (where you fall off a platform onto one or both legs and quickly jump back up on impact) and bounding (running with one long, leaping stride). But there are many different types of plyometric training that even beginners can do.

For example, activities like hopping are lower-intensity—so they have less impact on our muscles and bones than other types of plyometric training (like jogging). Many people are probably already doing plyometric exercises without even knowing it.

The risk of injury from plyometric training increases with landing power – so exercises such as trap jumps and hops should be avoided until you are stronger. However, when plyometric training is performed in a way that suits your ability, there is a small risk of injury.

If you want to try plyometric training, there are a few moves you should master to reduce your risk of injury.

First, learn how to land correctly. When you land, it should be on a full foot and the ankles, knees and hips should be bent to absorb the power. You can work on this by simply balancing on one leg, then hopping slightly and landing on both. To make progress, try balancing on one leg but landing on the other leg when hopping.

Once you’ve learned how to land, it’s important to learn how to jump. Choose an object at a suitable height that you can jump onto comfortably – e.g. B. Take a small step – and practice jumping up and using landing techniques to properly absorb the impact.

Once you’ve mastered landing and jumping, you can repeatedly jump in place, e.g. B. jump. Start with two feet at a time and alternate with single legs. As you become more confident and competent, you can then start increasing the height of the repetitive jumps in some places — like to a squat jump, but tuck your legs into your chest at the top of your jump).

To push this further, try jumping forward or sideways. Remember that the main goal of plyometric training is to be elastic. Because of this, it’s important to be “bouncy” in all of your jumps.

The most challenging plyometric exercises are known as shock jumps or depth jumps. These include dropping a bench or box (usually over 30cm) onto the ground and performing an instant jump. These jumps have high landing forces and should only be performed once you have mastered all other techniques and can perform them with confidence.

Plyometric training is an inexpensive, time-efficient form of exercise that can improve your health and fitness. If you want to try plyometric training, you should aim to do plyometric exercises 1-3 times per week.

Lindsay BottomsExercise and Health Physiology Reader, University of Hertfordshireand Jon BrazierStrength and Conditioning Instructor University of Hertfordshire

This article is republished by The conversation under a Creative Commons license. read this original article.

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