Plyometric exercise (plyo meaning longer and metric meaning measures) have been around since the first Olympians in Greece donned white robes and grape leaf crowns. These types of exercises are used regularly by athletes who require explosive power for their particular sport. But are plyometrics reserved only for the very athletic? The answer is NO! Plyometric exercises, when done safely and in proper amounts, can add variety to a tired workout routine, increase caloric expenditure, and help improve reactivity and coordination—no athletic ability required!
The premise behind using plyometric exercise to improve reactivity and power output comes from what’s called the “stretch shortening cycle.” This term refers to the change a muscle goes through when being eccentrically loaded and then concentrically contracted. What is actually being trained while doing plyometics is the very short period in between the eccentric (lengthening) and concentric (shortening) phases of this muscle contraction. This is called the “amortization phase” and it is a very quick moment in time when the muscle goes from being eccentrically contracted, or stretched while under load, to concentrically contracted, which is what we normally think of as flexing a muscle. When plyometrics are done quickly, as intended, the amortization phase should last less than one-quarter of a second (0.00:25). The shorter the amortization phase, the quicker a muscle goes from a long muscle to short muscle, which allows for increased force production.
It is important to understand that with plyometric training, more is not better. Because of the intensity and ground contacts involved with these types of exercises, participants must be physically prepared for this new challenge. Plyometrics should be a supplemental part of a well-rounded training program. The following chart features the number of plyos that can be included within a training program based on the athletic level of the participant.
Here are several different types of plyometrics exercises that target the upper-, middle- and lower-body segments that you may want to add to your program:
Medicine Ball Power Push-up
Adopt a push-up position with both hands on top of a 5- to 8-lb (~2- to 3.5-kg) medicine ball.
Quickly remove the hands and drop them to the floor slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Make sure to land with the elbows slightly flexed.
Continue to flex the elbows and drop the chest to almost touch the medicine ball.
Explosively extend the elbows and push up so that the hands return to the top of the ball. Note: This exercise is appropriate for elite-level clients only.
www.ecautism.com Rachel, who has Aspergers, met Coach Dave at age 14 and did not want to exercise. When she finally agreed to, she would only wear her high s…