Plyometrics for Explosive Power
Next time you go to the gym, do us a favor and really observe the people that are lifting weights. Take a close look at how the move. Don’t necessarily pay attention to how much weight they are lifting or how many reps they can bang out. If you spend enough time hanging around the bench press area, more than likely you’ll see a group of guys that move some serious weight.
But are they explosive? Is that guy repping 245lbs a ridiculous amount of times explosive? Probably not.
Big and strong is great and it looks good in the mirror.
Becoming more explosive is something that should be a high priority for all athletes and high performers.
The combination of strong, flexible, and explosive turns you from average into a bad mother trucker.
Save a few sports, strength without the combination of speed and explosiveness won’t do you much good. Unless you are in a very specialized sport, being insanely strong without moving well doesn’t make you a high level performer. The more versatile you are…in any sport, the more advantage you have over your competition.
When it comes to developing explosiveness, there are tons of exercises out there that can help you accomplish this. At the Athletic Strength Institute one of our go to movements is hurdle jumps. We like this exercise a lot because its simple and extremely effective because it does an excellent job of firing up your central nervous system and can technically be a “full body” exercise, although its primarily focused on the lower body. Plyometric hurdle jumps are one of the staple movements we use when we are putting athletes through our NFL Combine Training regiment.
Ok, great, I’m sold. How do I do them?
How to perform Hurdle Jumps
• Set up 3-5 hurdles 2-3 feet apart. In the example we are using 5.
• Start with feet together, shoulder width apart.
• Take a small step towards the 1st hurdle and leap over it with both feet
• Make sure you land on both feet and explode over the next hurdle
• Repeat this until you reach the final hurdle
Tips: When jumping aim to get your hips as high as possible. At this point pull your knees up to your chest when clearing each hurdle.
This is a fluid motion, meant to be performed in quick succession. There shouldn’t be a pause mid way through the process.
As we mentioned earlier, the minute your form suffers…you’re done.
Sets: Perform 3 sets or less if your form suffers. Because the nervous system takes longer to recover than the muscular system, rest 2 minutes between sets.
How Many Should I Do?
Do enough to be effective, but don’t go overboard. Typically with our athletes we do about 3 sets of these. Make sure to push yourself and challenge yourself, but when your form starts to suffer its time to call it quits on the hurdle jumps. This is a demanding movement and because of the nature of it, you can seriously injure yourself if your form degrades too much.
A little background on plyometrics:
A plyometric exercise comprises of three phases:
- Eccentric phase: This is also referred to as the landing phase and involves the pre-loading (energy is stored) of the agonist muscle group.
- Amortization phase: This is the transition phase between the concentric and eccentric phases. It’s important that this phase occurs as quickly as possible or it reduces the stored energy from the eccentric phase and lowers effectiveness.
- Concentric phase: This is the take off portion of the movement where all the stored energy is used to produce force.
Why are plyometric movements important?
- Enhanced performance – No matter what sport you are involved in, the explosive and compound movements of plyometrics will increase your performance. They help make you stronger, quicker, and more explosive.
- Build muscle – Due to the demanding nature of these movements, you can quickly build muscle because you are primarily working the fast twitch muscles in your body. The fast twitch fibers are the largest and strongest in your body.
- They can be their own workout- If you are lacking equipment of a normal gym, you can still get an extremely effective workout with minimal equipment.
We use a form of plyometrics with all of our athletes. If you have questions or want to learn more about implementing plyometric into your fitness regiment, give us a call or shoot us an email.