Squat jumps, or plyo-squats, are great exercises to sneak into a comprehensive leg work out. They allow for the development of explosive hip and knee extension and add an element of cardiorespiratory endurance if performed in a repetitive nature.
1. Ready Stage
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Align yourself so that your feet are shoulder width apart, with your toes pointing slightly outward. With this stance keep a level of softness softness in your knees and in your hips, preventing your joints from being fully “locked”.
This is your Ready Stage, and it is vital to preventing any odd kinematics which could lead to an injury.
2. Down Stage (Eccentric Stage)
This is the downward motion of the exercise, and this is where most folks go wrong.
The key to the downward motion is to stick your hips and buttocks backward. Failure to do this results in what I like to refer to as “forward flexion” of the knee, and this the main reason why some folks complain about knee discomfort or pain when performing squats.
By sticking your hips and buttocks backward, you put the majority of your body weight upon your heels (knees should be stacked over your ankles.
This takes the pressure off of your patellar tendon and knee that would develop if you “forward flexed” your knees over your toes and helps strengthen your quads’ ability to stabilize the knee under load.
Try to maximize your range of motion in this stage by going down as low as you can.
3. Amortization Stage
The Amortization Stage is less of a stage, and more of a brief time point during the exercise. This is the separation between eccentrically resisting gravity’s pull on your body and you concentrically contracting to forcefully oppose it.
With training, this phase should be super short… meaning no pausing at the bottom of the movement.
4. Up Stage (Concentric Stage)
The Up Stage is the explosive push off of the ground causing you to go airborne, and it is key to push with as much force as you can. Remember to keep your knees stacked over your ankles, and push with your heels… keeping your head up and back straight.
At the top of your motion, plantar flex your feet and give another push off in order to maximize your ability to go airborne.
This is the most critical phase of the entire exercise, and care has to be made to reduce the risk of injury. Similar to the Ready Stage, you want to make sure that your hips and knees are soft upon landing and that your feet are around shoulder width apart.
Landing with stiff or “locked” knees will increase your chances of messing up the cartilage or the ligaments that hold that joint together. Not only that, but it puts a lot of unnecessary force up your legs and spine, and is generally just uncomfortable.
Again, Squat jumps, or plyo-squats, are great exercises to sneak into a comprehensive leg work out. They allow for the development of explosive hip and knee extension and add an element of cardiorespiratory endurance if performed in a repetitive nature.
But like any other ballistic exercise, it is important to utilize form for the prevention of personal injury. Follow these five steps and try them out during your next workout!