For those who are training for a competition, whether a race or a sports event, adding in plyometrics to your training will do wonders for your time and performance. Plyometric training can be used for kids and adults. I have programmed plyometric training into many of the pre-season and in-season lifting programs for the teams I train.

According to McClenton, Brown, Coburn, and Kersey (2008), training while using plyometric depth jump training two times a week for six weeks improved the 31 men and women’s verticals significantly. A depth jump is a high intensity exercise, so for those who are starting out, I would not recommend going right to that exercise. The depth jump is a great training tool once you are capable of this exercise.

Another study by Ramirez-Campillo et al (2015) studied young kids for six weeks, two sessions a week using both single leg plyometrics and bilateral. Researchers found performance to be significantly increased in power, endurance, and balance.

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I state this research, because I always recommend training when there is evidence from research to show the benefits and results of plyometric training. I do also want to stress the importance for strength.

There is a certain level of strength needed prior to starting plyometric training. If you have not been weight training for at least a year, I would not recommend starting plyometric training.

For beginners just starting out on a plyometric training program, I would recommend 2 days a week, as the research previously stated will elicit the response desired. I would also recommend doing the plyometric training prior to lifting training or any other training if you are going to do two trainings in one day.

Since plyometric training is focused to improve speed and power, training when your body is not fatigued is best. I would do the following as a circuit, but remember to allow as much recovery between each exercise to allow maximum amount of power and speed.

THIS IS NOT CONDITIONING! There is a difference between conditioning and plyometric training. Jumping should not be used as a conditioning exercise!

The goal is for each repetition to be completed as fast as possible because this will elicit the response to develop power.

Plyometric training for athletes

Cone/hurdle jumps

I would set up 6-8 cones and focus on the pre jump, landing, and the arm motion. When jumping, use the arms to build moment and make sure the knees are following in line with your feet and hips, don’t let your knees cave in. This is extremely common in women.

Again, having the strength in the lower limbs will be beneficial. Think about landing as softly as you can and cushion the landing. Once the exercise becomes easier, increase speed between the landing and jumping and increase the height of the hurdles/cones and eventually move to boxes.

Plyometric push ups (bench)

While performing these push ups, make sure the elbows remain somewhat close to the body (not at a 90 degree angel to the torso, more like a 45 degree angle). If you are not able to do normal push ups, plyometric push ups should not be attempted.

Keep your hips inline with your upper body and lower body; leading with your hips during the push off the bench and sinking your hips at the bottom of the push up will increase spinal compression and not increase the power in the upper body. Again, I would aim for 6-8 repetitions.

Medicine ball glute wall ball:

If you have done a kettle bell swing before, the motion is very similar. I would stand between 6-10 feet away from the wall. Again, the focus is speed so find a ball that you can move quickly. Remember proper form when doing medicine ball exercises or any lower body exercise. Keep the chest and head up right to decrease rounding in the spine.

plyometric training for athletes

Have your feet wide enough so you can use both hands on the ball and swing the ball between your legs. Keep the knees slightly bent and stay on your heels and drive your hips back.

To release the ball, drive your hips forward and focus on the triple extension of the hips, knees, and you can slightly come up onto your toes and release the ball at the same time. The ball should hit the wall between 1 foot up from the ground and no higher than 4 feet.

Again, I would try for 6-8 repetitions. Focus on the speed of the motion and when the exercise becomes easy, increase the weight of the ball or distance away from the wall.

Medicine ball slams

If you have some frustrations, this is a great exercise, but it also will develop the speed and power in the upper body. With your feet shoulder width apart, and knees slightly bent (athletic position), hold the ball over your head with arms nearly straight.

Slam the ball hard to the floor and keep it close to you so you can catch the ball on the way up, but don’t slam you feet! If you are hitting the ball hard enough, the ball should bounce back up and you can quickly bring the ball back over your head and start the next repetition. Like the previous, I would do 6-8 repetitions.

I would start out with 3-4 sets of each, and increase after a couple of weeks to allow for progressive overload.

References:

McClenton, L.S., Brown, L.E., Coburn, J.W., & Kersey, R.D. (2008). The effect of short-term vertimax vs. depth jump training on vertical jump performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 22(2), 321-325.

Ramirez-Campillo, R., Burgos, C.H., Henriquez-Olguin, C., Andrade, D.C., Martinez, C., Alvarez, C., Castro-Sepulveda, M., Marques, M.C., & Izquierdo, M. (2015). Effect of unilateral, bilateral, and combined plyometric training on explosive and edurance performance of young soccer players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(5), 1317-1328.

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