How to Organize Plyometrics into Your Workout

 

AUTHOR : ALEXANDER BELL-MORATTO

 

Plyometrics are probably the most interesting part of athletes workouts. Or at least, the flashiest. It’s alluring to think that trying an advanced secret variation of an explosive jump that you saw on a youtube video of an MMA fighter (or professional dunker, or any other high level athlete) will morph you from Clark Kent into Superman.

I wish it were that simple. Unfortunately, the genetic freaks that are in the top 1% of humans in their sport are born with a lot of their talent. They are also freakishly good at all the boring stuff (basic lifting combined with masterful technical skill in their sport). This is a generalization, and there are exceptions, but a big pitfall people make when starting to train for their sport is jumping right into the exciting, fancy looking stuff (and skimming past all the boring basics).

You’re first improvement in gainz are going to come from the basics. You can get almost all the way there just by bringing your strength up in some big exercises (squats, deadlifts, lunges, pistols, maybe olympic lifts if you’re into that). And then comes the tipping point…

You will reach a point, where you actually need to add some pizazz to your workout. Simply squatting, deadlifting, and benching as heavy as you can is not good enough once you have enough strength. Upgrade your engine to a V12 by building the basics, then add the nitrous boost by sprinkling in some advanced techniques. Where this point lies, is the subject of much debate. If you are somewhere around a 1.5x bodyweight squat and a 2x bodyweight deadlift, that can be an indication that you need some more fancy stuff (although I would say it’s very hard to give one number to every athlete of every sport, there are many factors that could change general guide).

Does this mean no interesting training until 2 years down the road? No – but USE IT SPARINGLY. Sprinkle it in, then as you start to get ‘strong enough’ then integrate in some complex methods. Try undulating your periodization. Or potentiating. Contrasting, Heck, even french contrasting!

But as you get more elaborate, it is important to know what variables you are fiddling with. Instead of randomly throwing plyos into your workout haphazardly, here is a starter kit into how to group plyos in order to meet whatever need you are trying to address:

Category 1: Short Amortization

Goals of this type of plyo:

  • Rate of Force Development.
  • Ability to produce a large amount of force quickly. In real game scenarios you don’t always have time to fully prepare and load before you have to jump.
  • Reactivity.
  • Top end speed during sprinting.
  • Ability to jump repeatedly.

Themes that it fits into:

  •  Dynamic effort day.
  •  Longer sprint days.
  •  Any explosive submaximal lifting.
  •  Contrast training (Post Activation Potential).

Cueing:

  •  Quick off the floor.
  •  Pop up as fast as possible.
  •  Slam into the floor.
  •  Minimize time on the ground.

Examples:

  • Fast Broad jump Repeats.
  • Repeated Low Box Jumps.
  • Band Assisted jump aka Overspeed.

  •  Skater jumps (in place or broad jumping).
  •  Variations of the above include 1 leg or 2 leg, broad jumping or vertical, with approach or without, armswing or without.

Category 2: Long Amortization

Goals of this type of plyo:
  • Power production.
  • Sprinting acceleration.
  • Improve your ability to max jump full out.

Themes that it fits into:

  •  Maximal effort days or heavy weight days.
  •  Acceleration work.
  •  Contrast training (Post Activation Potential).

Cueing:

  •  Max jump.
  •  Full arm swing and explode.
  •  Load and explode.

    Examples:

  •  Drop jump (preferably trying to reach target as high as possible).
  •  Stationary jump.
  •  Descend, pause, jump (so there is no momentum helping you up).
  •  Broad jumps for distance.
  •  Max box jump.

  •  Box squat jumps, starting from seated position, max jump (video is done with a weighted vest, but can be performed with body weight).

  •  Kneeling jump to feet.

  •  Variations include 1 leg or 2 leg, broad or vertical, with approach or without, arm swing or without, concentric only or entire movement.

 

 

But… Having said all this, there are a few caveats. For one thing, this is just my opinion on one effective way to skin this cat; there are many others. My rationale here is that Category 1 is so fast that it fits the high force, high speed theme of explosive submaximal training. Category 2 is well suited to potentiate the heavy lifting that it accompanies; prepping your body for maximal effort. Another big note is that I focused solely on sagittal plane exercises, the amount of variations can be multiplied immensely when you start to incorporate lateral work.

Another thing that can add huge variation is weighted plyos. Obviously too much weight will not allow the explosive switch from eccentric to concentric, but there are many effective methods that utilize a range of loads included with plyometric type exercises. Another factor that can give you even more variety is set and rep schemes. If you do 100 jumps in a row, will the last ones look explosive? No. But some work with less rest can train athletes to stretch their capacity to be explosive.

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