Archive for “Plyometrics” Tag

Plyometrics: The Truth and How to Use Them – Joe Powell

One of the most misunderstood, and often misused, training methodologies in the strength and conditioning field today is plyometrics. Far too often exercises that simply involve jumping around in some odd manner are being labeled as a “plyo” drill. It seems the most common culprit is when a coach or trainer calls any type of jump in the presence of a box a plyometric exercise. It should be understood that many physiological principles are taking place when performing a true plyometric exercise.

Plyometrics, by definition, are “an exercise that is a quick, powerful movement using a pre-stretch or countermovement, that involves the stretch shortening cycle.” To elicit this physiological mechanism properly, specific training parameters must be carried out. The end result, when programmed and performed properly, may include improved muscle force and power output.

Even though plyometrics are fairly well researched and can provide immense training benefits, important details regarding the programming and usage remain unknown to coaches and trainers alike. Aspects of plyometrics such as the type, the frequency in which they should be trained, volume of exercises, rest periods, etc. do not receive the heightened awareness that standard anaerobic or aerobic training does. The unfortunate result of this means that many athletes are not reaping the benefits of plyometrics to the greatest extent possible.

Understanding plyometrics correctly requires one to possess an understanding of basic anatomy and exercise physiology. In order to perform a plyometric exercise, the body relies on two physiological models.

The first is known as the mechanical model. It essentially highlights how our muscles and tendons (often referred together as the musculotendinous component) have the ability to store energy created by an eccentric muscle contraction and then use it with a very quick subsequent concentric contraction. This mechanism can be thought of as being similar to a spring. The spring is loaded and has stored energy ready to be used. To utilize the stored energy brought upon by the mechanical model, it’s imperative that the eccentric phase must be immediately followed by a concentric phase. If not, the stored energy is dissipated as heat. Another prerequisite of this model is that the eccentric muscle contraction cannot feature a range of motion that is too large. For example, imagine a basketball player jumping up to block a shot. The player does not completely squat as deep as they possibly can before the jump to reach maximal height.  Instead, they perform a quick ¼ to ½ squat and then jump. If the eccentric muscle action is too great, and the range of motion is too large for that movement, the stored energy will also be dissipated off as heat.

The second physiological model is called the neurophysical model. This model is predicated on the body’s stretch reflex and proprioceptive organs called muscle spindles. When the body experiences a quick stretch of a muscle it results with muscular activity reflexively increasing in the agonist muscle. Plyos rely on the stretch to cause the reflexive response which, in turn, increases the force the muscle produces. Similar to the mechanical model, if there is too long of a period between the eccentric phase and concentric contraction the potential benefit of the stretch reflex will not occur.

Essentially the two models tell us that in order for an exercise to be considered a plyometric it must involve three components:

  1. A stretch of the agonist muscle (eccentric muscle action)
  2. A transition phase/Amoritization phase (the transition between eccentric and concentric phases)
  3. A quick concentric contraction of the agonist muscle.

Together, these three components comprise what is known as the Stretch Shortening Cycle. Understanding at least the basic scientific components of the stretch shortening cycle and its components will be of great assistance for proper programming and utilization of plyometrics.

With a basic scientific primer set in place, one can now better visualize what an actual plyometric looks like. Plyometrics can be performed with both lower body and upper body movements, they can be utilized with both bodyweight and various apparatuses commonly found in a weight room, and most importantly they can be regressed, progressed and modified to fit an athlete’s individual skill-set or athletic-based need.

When designing a program around resistance training and/or aerobic training, many parameters must be set in place. Variables like the mode, intensity, placement/order, number of sets, training volume, rest time and frequency are outlined and set forth by a trainer or coach. When programming plyometrics into a training program, the very same considerations must be present. Often overlooked, there can be severe consequences if proper consideration has not taken place. Therefore, when introducing them into your program, safety should always be at the forefront. Factors such as biological age, training experience, body composition, sport/s played, season type, etc. all need to be considered in when using plyometrics.

plyometrics tuck jumpThe first and most important detail that needs to be recognized by a coach or trainer before taking any athlete through a plyometric drill for the first time is to make sure that they demonstrate proper mechanical form throughout the movement. Since plyos are fast and rapid in nature, the chosen exercise can be performed slowly at first to ensure correct from is in place. If the plyometric exercise chosen involves jumping and leaving the ground, the athlete MUST demonstrate an ability to land safely in a proper and stable position. If athlete safety is compromised during any drill, its potential effectiveness does not outweigh the potential for injury.

Often times, lower body plyometric exercises involve all three major joints of the lower body, and when stressed in a certain way, they can lead to soft tissue injuries. Keeping an eye out for proper alignment of the ankles, hips and especially the knee needs to be at heightened focus on every single repetition. Once an athlete can appropriately show the ability to perform the exercise(s) expected of them, plyometrics can begin to make their way into an athlete’s training program.

To begin designing a plyometric program for your athlete, attention to each of the following program variables needs to take place. It should be noted that certain issues may arise in athletes or clients, and heightened awareness and alterations to training should be made. The list of requirements is meant as a generalized process for programming plyometrics. There will always be certain situations that arise and contradict the detailed factors. Changes can certainly be made, and other programming staples can be added to the list.

Mode: In what manner should plyometrics be done?

To begin utilizing plyometrics with their athletes, strength and conditioning professionals must address a very important question: “What are you trying to accomplish by including plyometrics into a program?” The answer to that question is dependent on several factors.

Certain sports like track and field are quite literally a competition of plyometric exercises. Others like basketball and volleyball require plyometric movements at an all-out intensity to be repeated throughout the course of the game, or an athlete may simply play a sport where they want to increase their speed and become more powerful. Whatever the instance is, a coach should understand how the potential benefits of plyometrics translate to sport and the individual athlete. From there, we can compare it to the other training goals of a strength and conditioning program to begin programming them accordingly. The mode also defines details such as which portion of the body will be receiving plyometric exercises. The strength coach will identify whether training the lower body, upper body, or both with plyometric exercises will be necessary.

Placement/Order: Where should Plyometric exercises appear during a workout?

A thorough warm-up that is structured around the specific muscles, joints and planes of movement that are specific to that day’s training should always take place prior to engaging in plyometric exercises. When choosing the appropriate time to include plyometric exercises during a workout, they should be thought of similarly to the Olympic lifts. The Olympic lifts and plyometrics both require a great deal of technique combined with power, force and speed to complete. Multiple joints are highly stressed and are required to work together or in succession to achieve the desired outcome. Due to all of these factors, it is highly recommended to perform plyometrics, like the Olympic lifts, very early on during the workout. The body should be fresh and the athlete should be able to provide their maximal effort. Plyometric exercises be performed in a non-fatigued state so they should be placed before any resistance training or aerobic conditioning that may take place in the same workout. There are certain circumstances when plyometric exercises can take place concurrently, or after resistance training, or in combination with other types of training like performing speed work. These instances will be directly addressed later in the article.

Intensity: How much stress and force is being placed upon the body?

Plyometric drills are actually intense in nature according to their definition, but just how intense they are can range greatly. Plyometric exercises are classified as low, moderate or high in terms of intensity based on the amount of stress that will be placed on the working joints and musculature associated with the movement. Other factors such as difficulty of the movement, sequence required to perform it, and the presence of external objects will also help define the intensity. Athletes should demonstrate the ability to perform movements starting on the lower end of the intensity spectrum before they gradually move into more moderate and higher intensity exercises.

As mentioned prior, plyometrics may not be for everybody depending on certain factors. Performing high intensity exercises should not be done by certain demographics regardless if they displayed understanding and mechanics on lower intensity plyo drills. Prepubescent children should not partake in high-intensity exercises because their epiphyseal plates still open. Accidents can result in damage to these areas which could lead to growth issues and other long-term problems. Any circumstances of past or current injury should also always be taken into consideration before allowing an athlete to perform more intense plyometric movements on the spectrum.  Very large or overweight individuals are also at a higher risk of injury during higher intensity plyos, so be aware of who is performing the drills.

Examples of lower body plyometric drill intensity:

Low: skips (regular, backwards, power skips, A/B/C skips), line hops (bilateral), squat jumps, box squat jumps (low box height), box step-up jumps (low box height), alternating box step-up jumps (low box height)

Moderate: Line hops (unilateral), box squat jumps (mid to high box), box step-up jumps (mid to high box height), alternating box step-up jumps (mid to high box height), bounding for distance (single leg alternating),

High: Weighted squat jumps, depth jumps, Unilateral box jumps, Combo jumps (performing multiple repetitions consecutively, or adding in a second movement to take place after the jump is finished)

Frequency: How often should plyometric exercises be performed in a given week?

In regards to programming, frequency is defined as the number of times something occurs in a week. Many factors that have already been mentioned, like training age and sport, yet again come into play when discussing frequency. However, one of the biggest indicators of the frequency in which plyometrics are performed is the time of the training year. In-season training programs will likely see fewer training days containing plyometrics than the off-season will. As a generalized rule, off-season programs could include plyometric training 2-3 times a week, while only 1-2 times per week is necessary for in-season training. As is the case with resistance training, plyometrics tax the body in such a way that requires ample rest and recovery. Researchers and textbooks are suggesting plyometrics should be programmed by focusing on ample recovery and repair after a previous plyometric training session, instead of just an overall frequency and generalized number of days. The time that seems to be optimal for full recovery and repair is 48-72 hours, or simply 2-3 days.

There are certain exceptions to the rule.  For instance, a coach could have their athlete perform lower body plyometrics the day after upper body, or vice versa, and there would not have to be as much recovery time since the plyometric exercises taxed separate body regions.

Training volume: How many sets and repetitions are performed in a given session?

Plyometric training volume is measured in several different ways. Volume depends on the intensity of the exercise, if the exercise is an upper body or lower body plyometric, as well as the goal of plyometric exercise (for example bounding deals with horizontal displacement and can be measured by distance traveled). Plyometric training volume is similar to resistance training volume in that it is expressed by “sets x reps,” but unlike resistance training only certain advanced plyo exercises deal with an athlete overloading the body with an external load. Therefore volume is very rarely measured in terms “sets x reps x weight lifted.”

One of the most standardized ways to measure lower body plyometrics is by how many times an athlete’s foot comes in contact with the ground. This way of measuring volume cannot however, be appropriate for many moderate and most high intensity exercises. Unilateral exercises, depth jumps, high box jumps, and weighted exercises all cause much more stress than a low intensity exercise like line hops. As an athlete progresses through the spectrum of plyometric intensity, note that there should be an inverse relationship between both volume and intensity of the exercise. The classic model for foot contacts is as follows:

  1. Beginner (little to no experience): 80 to 100 total reps
  2. Intermediate (some basic experience): 100 to 120 reps
  3. Advanced (significant experience): 120 to 140 reps.

Plyometric exercises that are overloaded, such as weighted squat jumps, can be measured and programmed just like the Olympic lifts. They should be kept within the Strength and Power repetition threshold (roughly 1 to 6 repetitions) and for 3-4 sets depending on experience and skill level. Upper body exercises that utilize an apparatus like a medicine ball can be expressed by the total number of reps/throws/slams/ tosses and is typically seen with 1-3 sets of 5-10 reps (higher reps are typically okay with these exercises since medicine balls and similar apparatuses are not usually very heavy.)

Rest time: How long between sets should an athlete rest?

Rest times for plyometrics are largely dependent on the type and intensity of the exercise. High intensity exercises like depth jumps and overloaded vertical jumps will require more rest time than lower intensity drills such as line hops and power skips. According to current research trials, common rest times range from 1:5 – 1:10 work:rest ratio. So, if 5 depth jumps takes 20 seconds to finish, the rest period will be close to 3 minutes (1:9 work:rest ratio).

The reasoning behind such long rest periods, even for the low intensity plyo drills, are that plyos require maximal effort in order to improve specific power output that translates to sport. The other major reason is very similar when performing sprinting drills. Both plyometrics and sprint training require powerful movements that rely on proper technique to achieve the best possible results. If there is insufficient rest time between sets or reps, the athlete will most likely still be tired or fatigued, which causes a breakdown in technique and power output. When exercises are performed with poor technique and they are not fully rested, the results are sub-par. The physiological adaptations that coincide with plyometrics just simply won’t occur to the highest possible extent. Over time an athlete may even adapt to the poor technique and can risk that becoming the new standard because it has been practiced and learned.

Alternative ways to Program Plyometric exercises

Once the proper foundation for plyometric programming has been set and they have been properly programmed into an athlete’s training routine, adaptation and advancement will  likely take place. For athletes that are advanced enough, there are methods studied by physiologists to enhance the adaptations seen within plyometric training even further.

There is a specific style referred to as “Contrast Training” that achieves these adaptations. Contrast training relies on what is known as post-activation potentiation, or PAP for short. PAP is believed to allow for the working muscle’s overall power output to be greater after being taxed at, or near, maximal effort.  Essentially, contrast training calls for the athlete to perform a heavy set of 3-6 repetitions of an exercise followed by a handful of repetitions of a plyometric exercise.

Research shows that this concept of PAP works due to increased motor unit recruitment, enhanced motor unit synchronization and greater input to the motor neuron, among several other mechanisms and theories relating to hormonal and metabolic factors. This style of training is reserved for advanced athletes only. A sample of exercise pairings that could be used in contrast training are as follows:

Snatch Broad Jump

Squat Squat Jump

Bench Press Plyo Push-up

Deadlift/RDL Medball Reverse Toss

Loaded Sled Push/Sled Tow Sprints

As mentioned earlier there are so many factors that should be considered when programming plyometric exercises. A comprehensive needs analysis as well as knowledge of your athlete’s capabilities, injury history and goals will be necessary when utilizing this great exercise mode for everything it’s worth.

This brief review of plymetrics should help coaches make informed decisions about how to best incorporate them into an overall strength & conditioning program.

Joe Powell is an Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach and Adjunct Faculty Member at Central Michigan University.  He teaches classes in the Department of Health and Human Performance and works primarily with the Chippewa football team.  Joe is a regular contributor to the IYCA Insiders program and has been a huge part of bringing the Behind the Science series to the IYCA.  Get more of Joe’s contributions in the IYCA Insiders membership.

 

Why Implement Plyometrics into Your Training Programs: Part 2

Why You Should be Implementing Plyometrics: Part 2

athletics-659241_640In part 1 of “Why Implement Plyometrics into Your Training Programs” it was important to note that plyometrics could be a great tool to use in your programming to help athletes achieve success.

In this blog, there are 3 more reasons that implementing plyometrics can take your programs and athletes’ game to the next level.

3 More Reasons to Implement Plyometrics

Reason #4: Easily Transferable

Plyometric movements mimic sports or game movements. A squat jump can mimic a number of things, a basketball player getting a rebound or a football player jumping to catch a pass.

There are many examples of plyometric exercises that can transfer to the field, court, etc. The greatest thing about that is it creates “buy in” from parents and athletes alike. They can see, feel and apply plyometrics.

Reason #5: Gives You Room to Be Creative

jump-2594_640To keep athletes interested, coaches occasionally need to get creative in their programming. This not only holds interest, but it really is the best thing for the athletes.

To add energy and excitement use plyometrics.

Pro Example: I may have my athlete perform a regular bench press for a number of reps, and the athlete would immediately move to performing a medicine ball chest press for a certain amount of time (generally 25-30 seconds).

Reason #6: Endurance

Endurance is another little perk of plyometric exercises.

Have athletes do as many burpees as they can in 30 seconds. This finisher will definitely put their endurance to a test.

Pro Tip: Be sure that athletes are proficient in burpees before this challenge. If they cannot complete a great burpee, they need to start their first.

Summary

It is important to note that when developing the complete athlete, plyometrics are very important and can be utilized in many ways. Simple plyometric exercises should be mastered before more complex plyometric exercises are introduced.

Jumping rope, jumping jacks, single leg jumps, skipping, etc. are great ways to introduce plyometrics. Now get out there and have some fun!


About the Author: DeCoreus Leavell

DL-HeadshotDeCoreus Leavell

– IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certified
– Assistant Coach at Christian County High School
– In the span of 3 years coached 3 state champions and 15 state placers at the middle and high school level


Check Out 4 Amazing Plyometric Exercises … for FREE!

In Coach Wil Fleming’s short 4-video series, he outlines how plyo exercises improve a variety of movement patterns that increase strength, speed, power and much more.

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Why Implement Plyometrics into Your Training Programs: Part 1

Why You Should be Implementing Plyometrics: Part 1

men-82140_640Before we get into why you should be implementing plyometrics into your training programs, let’s first define plyometrics.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines plyometrics as an exercise involving repeated, rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power.

Pro Tip: Plyometric exercises are a great tool to use to put power behind the muscle.

Plyometrics can be used with many athletes or non-athletes at varying levels. However, as a wrestling coach, it’s a tool I use to help and even simulate explosive drive through their opponents while on the mat.

In Part 1 of this blog, you will receive 3 reasons why you should be implementing plyometrics in your training programs and Free Access to the Top 4 Plyo Exercises.

3 Reasons to Implement Plyometrics

Reason #1: Putting the Power Behind Muscles

One of the main reasons to implement plyometric exercises into a training program is to give athletes the power they need to throw faster, jump higher, or hit the ball harder and farther.

For example, plyometric exercises give wrestlers the power they need to drive through their double leg take downs, a basketball athlete the powerful vertical for a rebound, a swimmer the ability to “push” off the block and the list goes on.

Pro Tip: Application of power is a key component in successful athletes. What’s the point if your athlete is lifting a ton of weight and they can’t apply it?

Reason #2: Progressions

Plyometrics can be a great tool for progressions. Do you have an athlete or athletes who have mastered a certain exercise, or have reached a glass ceiling with a certain exercise, but you’re not sure how you can progress those athletes?

Give plyometrics a try! A good example is a basic body weight squat progressing into squat jumps. Great push-ups need a challenge? Challenge them with plyometric push-ups (one of my personal favorites).

Pro Tip: Progressions are very important in developing an athlete’s long-term capabilities. Be sure that athletes are proficient in all mechanics before moving them on to more complex moves and adding plyometrics.

Reason #3: Performance Development

Through regular and adequate use of plyometric exercises your athletes will be able to jump higher or farther (depending on their reasoning for jumping), run faster and longer (plyometrics has been shown to improve distance runner’s conditioning), throw harder, and at the end of the day develop the necessary tools to reach their goals!

There are many reasons to add plyometrics to your training, and in my next blog, I will expose 3 more. For now, it is important to remember that plyometrics are a tool, and should be used within your existing long-term athlete development programming.


About the Author: DeCoreus Leavell

DL-HeadshotDeCoreus Leavell
 
– IYCA High School Strength and Conditioning Specialist Certified
– Assistant Coach at Christian County High School
– In the span of 3 years coached 3 state champions and 15 state placers at the middle and high school level
 


Top 4 Plyo Exercises

Every successful athlete needs the ability to exert a maximal amount of force in the shortest possible time interval (i.e. power). In Coach Wil Fleming’s short 4-video series, he outlines how plyo exercises improve a variety of movement patterns that increase strength, speed, power and much more.
 
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Plyometrics for Youth Athletes

Part 1. What are Plyometrics?

Plyometrics is a popular term used in the strength and conditioning field. Many strength coaches implement “plyometrics” into their programs to improve power and explosiveness in their young athletes.

Coaches will use this term as a marketing strategy to get the ear of parents who are looking for their child to become a better athlete. Words associated with “plyometrics” include “fast”, “power” and “explosive”.

The reason I put plyometrics in parentheses in the previous paragraph is many coaches, parents and athletes are uninformed about the real definition of plyometrics and how to implement them into a training program.

athletics-659475_640This blog, and IYCA Insider’s exclusive four-part series will examine the true meaning (origin) of plyometrics, how to prepare for plyometric exercises, how to properly progressed young athletes doing plyometric exercises and finally how to properly implement plyometrics into your training program.

The term plyometrics can be defined as an action of the body receiving a quick shock or impact which then produced a powerful involuntary eccentric contraction. Tension produced in this contraction was then given back in the return movement which consisted of the concentric contraction. It can also be referred to as “shock” method training system developed by Dr. Yuri Verkoshansky (known by many as father of plyometrics). This action should take .1-.2s in order for one to constitute an effective true plyometric exercise. Everything else, although effective, beneficial and needed, is considered plyometric preparation work. Essentially, one is engaging in jump training.

Jump training is a necessary component a young athlete should be exposed to in order to do plyometrics effectively and safely.

Plyometric exercises incorporate both speed and strength. Therefore, it produces a training effect that enhances these two things. Improvement in speed and strength allows the athlete to improve their overall athleticism.

Plyometric training improves explosive, elastic and eccentric strength, and other aspects of the neuromuscular system such as rhythm, balance, proprioception, movement coordination, and agility. It’s easy to see how much of a benefit plyometrics can aid in athletic development.

Plyometrics Categories

Plyometrics can be broken into 3 categories:

  • Upper body
  • Trunk
  • Lower body

Examples of an upper body plyometrics include quick strikes and various pushes such as a plyometric push up lying MB toss. A plyometric exercise involving the trunk would be any type of rotational work done at a high velocity manner. The final category of plyometric exercises are for the lower body.

The remaining three parts of this series is exclusively for the IYCA Insider and will focus on lower body plyometric exercises. If you are already an IYCA Insider, log in to see the last 3 parts.


Want to Access the Remaining Plyometrics Articles?

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Start your IYCA Insider trial account for just $1 to access the remaining 3-part series on plyometrics and other exclusive content.

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About the Author: Jeff King

  • CSCS certified
  • BS in Exercise Biology from UC Davis in 2005
  • MA in Kinesiology from San Diego State University in 2009
  • Wrote  Manuscript entitled: Comparing Preseason Frontal and Saggital Plane Plyometric Programs on Vertical Jump Height in High-School Basketball Players
  • Published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research and cited in the United States and abroad.
  • Co-Author of “Pigskin Prep: The Definitive Youth Football Training Guide”
  • Co-contributor to the ACL Preventive Program presented by Water and Sports Physical Therapy
  • Director of Athletics at Fitness Quest 10

 

Six Plyometric Training Progressions

Reasons for Doing Plyometric Training

In the sports performance industry, there are many facilities that offer jump training specifically for volleyball and basketball athletes only. The truth is that jump training is universally beneficial for almost every sport. While some movements may be specific to a particular sport, it is crucial that athletes learn to land, jump, and produce force.

The biggest reason for doing jump training is learning to create power through triple extension. Triple extension refers to the ankle, knee and hip in full extension. Triple extension is readily apparent in nearly every form of sport, such as a basketball exploding upward to snare a rebound or a football player jumping to catch a pass. 

foot-strikeLearning to create power from the triple extension movement is a critical skill for any athlete and is one of the main reasons why plyometric training is so valuable to an athlete.

Plyometric training, commonly referred to as “jump training,” is important because it requires the athlete to not only learn to be powerful and create force, but also teaches him or her how to land and absorb force as well.

Many injuries in sports occur in the landing position. Not many athletes get injured during the jump phase, which is why it is important to teach the landing first.

Another reason why plyometric training is great for all athletes is because there is direct correlation to becoming faster. This is because the production of force used to overcoming gravity is related to the force required when sprinting and overcoming that inertia as well.

Learning to apply and direct force downward will teach the athlete to apply that force in other manners.

Six Stages of Teaching Jump Training

So what is the progression for teaching jump training? Here are the six stages of teaching proper jump training protocol:

Stage #1: Landing technique

Learning to absorb force and ensuring proper alignment with the ankle, knee, and hip is great for injury prevention. Correcting these problems will help the athlete avoid serious landing injuries. Exercises that may be utilized to improve landings include:

Drop squats: starting in a standing position, drop down into a squat with your arms back.

Depth jump holds: from a 6-inch box, step off the box with 1 foot and land into a squat position with your arms back. Hold the position for 2 seconds.

Stage #2: Jumping with a landing “stick”

Learning to jump and “stick” a landing is the next thing that we teach. Once the athlete has a grasp on landing and absorption, we then let them jump and absorb the landing. We might use a low box or hurdle. We avoid repetitive jumping in this phase and work on power development and absorption.

Stage #3: Jumping with a mini-hop

Once the first two phases are complete, we then go into some repetitive jumping. We do this in a controlled manner and generally start with lower hurdles. The athlete will jump and land, do a mini-hop in place, then repeat the jump.

This does a few things. First it teaches the athlete to react and then it works on the athlete’s stretch shortening cycle, which is a key to creating power.

Stage #4: Jumping with counter-movement

This is when true plyometric movements take place. Repetitive jumping, generally over hurdles, is a great way to not only work on the stretch shortening cycle but the reactivity of the athlete.

Stage #5: Depth-jump to box or hurdle jumps

Utilizing the progressions above, the final stage is combining movements. For example, depth jumps combine the beginning phase of teaching a landing then incorporating a box jump, hurdle jump or any modality you see fit based on the athlete.

Stage #6: Single-leg jumping

The utilization of single leg training is crucial for overall performance and most importantly injury prevention. With the same guidelines as mentioned above, you can and should incorporate single-leg jump training. Using modalities such as boxes, hurdles, and even just a line on the floor, single-leg training should be a part of your program.

There are other modalities to plyometric training, but the above progression is a basic rendition of how it should be taught. From simple to complex, plyometrics are great for all athletes, provided that the YFS understands how and when to progress or regress training appropriately based upon the athlete’s developmental level and abilities.

Plyometric Training Phases for Beginners

Plyometrics can be used to reinforce proper landing and proper power output, which can help a young athlete become stronger and more reactive. Below are 2 training phases for beginner athletes.

A Phase 1 Plyometric Training Cycle for Beginner Athletes

Movement Sets  Reps  Modality 
Drop Squat 3 6 Body-weight
Box Jump 3 3 Box 12-18 inch. Hold landing for 2 seconds.
Single Leg Hurdle Hop 3 4 Mini hurdle or line on floor pause between each movement.

 

A Phase 2 Plyometric Training Cycle for Beginner Athletes

Movement Sets Reps Modality 
Box Jump 3 4 Box height of 18-24 inch. Hold landing for 2 seconds.
Hurdle Hop NC (non counter movement) 3 4 Use hurdle of 12 inches. Jump and stick each landing. Reset and repeat.
Single Leg Hurdle Hop 3 4 Mini hurdle or line on floor. Pause between each movement.

With the examples above, notice the relative consistency throughout. There is not that much “going on” with regards to the program, but the athletes are learning to generate power at the correct rate. It is also suggested to have the athlete perform linear jumping twice a week and lateral jumping twice a week.

Lateral jumping is excellent for all athletes in getting more production in unfamiliar directions and learning how to accept load on the body in different positions. Lateral plyometric training is far more simplistic and some of the exercises mimic linear jumping (for example, lateral box jump, lateral hurdle hops, and lateral single leg jumps). The above guidelines stay the same in terms of progression.

Summary

Plyometrics are not only a great tool to teach power and force production, but they are also a key in injury prevention. Having the appropriate progression strategy and employing it consistently is a valuable skill when programming for athletes in various sports, ages and abilities.

Brad Leshinske, BS, CSCS


Top 4 Plyo Exercises Free Video Series

Learn more about power exercises for athletes by viewing our top 4 plyo exercises free video series. You’ll have no trouble progressing your athletes to new levels of performance.

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Power Exercises for Athletes: A Guide to Plyometrics

Your Quick Guide to Plyometric Power Exercises for Athletes

A Quick Guide To Plyometrics

This day in age, you can find a ton of information on plyometrics and power exercises for athletes in seconds.

Books, articles, and blog posts abound, with most discussing the various types of drills that can fall into the category of plyometrics. Considering that plyometrics as a category encompasses nearly any “explosive” exercise, this leads to a LOT of possibilities.

Unfortunately, there is an information shortage when it comes to discussing how to apply and program plyometric power exercises for athletes progressively, which is really what matters in coaching. Here are just a few questions to consider:

  • Do you prescribe 50 contacts in a day of training? 100 contacts?
  • Is it OK to program plyometrics on consecutive days?
  • What kind of jumps do they do? Are some more appropriate for my goals than others?
  • What about medicine ball drills?

This list can go on and on.

Obviously, there are a lot of questions that arise when discussing using plyometrics in your program—and there should be! After all, choosing the right exercises for reaching your athletes’ goals takes careful consideration.

Today, I hope to share with you some fundamental information about plyometrics so you have a better grip on how to use them. But before we start thinking about the number of contacts to use with a particular athlete, there are a couple of things that we need to consider .

Age of the Athlete

Power exercises for athletes

Younger athletes are going to be on a steep learning curve, so it is important that the desired outcome of the drill is known and in place. The technical skill that the drill requires should not be more than the athlete has. As a result, younger athletes do not need high-impact plyometrics but instead should be focused on grooving the motor patterns that are a part of jumping and throwing.

Type of Plyometric Drill

We program all plyometrics for the beginning of sessions during a period that we call “Dynamic/Explosive.” This can encompass a lot of different drills and power exercises for athletes.

At Force Fitness/AR Bloomington, we have 3 broad categories of plyometric drills:

Repetitive Effort Jumps

These drills are of moderate or low intensity, and the focus is on minimal ground contact time. Once the pattern is learned, athletes of all ages can benefit from repetitive effort jumps. Progressions of these jumps include adding external resistance in the form of bands, kettlebells, or weight vests.

Pogo Jumps:

 

Lateral Hurdle Jumps:

 

Maximum effort Jumps

These drills are high intensity: box jumps, distance jumps (broad jumps), and depth jumps all fall into this category. These drills are more advanced and are not usually prescribed for younger athletes. The focus is on the generating the maximum amount of power in the movement.

Box Jumps:

 

Depth Jumps:

 

Medicine Ball Throws

This category can get very broad and includes rotary throws, chest passes, and overhead throws. Divided further, these can be maximal effort, repetitive effort, or combined effort throws (including another skill). Medicine balls are a versatile way to program power exercises for athletes in a number of planes and recruiting many different muscles.

Number of Contacts

When it comes to the number of contacts for these drills, the type of movement must be considered. In general, the quality of repetitions of each of these explosive movement types will diminish over time, so large volumes are generally not prescribed.

As a rule of thumb, keep the number of contacts at or below the following for a given session:

  • Maximum Effort Plyos:
  • Repetitive Effort Plyos:
  • Medicine Ball Throws:

These numbers reflect programming of the drills as part of a larger program; some more aggressive numbers might be used if programming plyometrics as their own day of programming.

Frequency of Training with Power Exercises for Athletes

Power exercises for athletes

The recovery time between sessions for plyometrics varies greatly based on the exercise. Maximum effort plyos require a longer recovery time. To account for that, an easy way to program plyos is to alternate days on which you do max effort and repetitive effort plyos.

So on a 2-day training schedule, one might program max effort plyos and repetitive effort medicine ball throws on day 1, then schedule repetitive effort plyos and maximum effort medicine ball throws on day 2.

Conclusion

Plyos and medicine ball throws are a great way to increase your athletes’ explosive power. I would even go so far as to say they are essential to successful programs.

Use this guide to plyometric training as a starting point off which to build your programming. Also, learn more about power exercises for athletes by viewing our top 4 plyo exercises free video series. You’ll have no trouble progressing your athletes to new levels of performance.

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Plyometric Progressions for Young Athletes

Young Athletes and Plyometric Progressions

By Wil Fleming

On the surface plyometrics are all about force production. For young athletes they are a great way to learn to produce force, apply it into the ground and propel their body in a new direction.

The overlooked part of plyometrics, that needs to be considered is the role of force absorption in an athlete’s development.

If athletes never had to land, or never had to stop there wouldn’t be as many injuries. Plain and simple. Almost 70% of knee injuries occur from non-contact movement. A great percentage of those injuries occur in change of direction movements or landing.

These types of stats should raise our eyebrows and make us look not only at force production but at force absorption. We must prepare our athletes for landing, otherwise plyos are like equipping your your young athletes with a bigger motor, but no brakes.

Applying the brakes to plyos can be done simply by using a progression of multi-planar jumps. Young athletes should do each jump at a high intensity and then “Stick” the landing for 3-5 seconds.

This progression is appropriate for athletes of nearly all ages, and will be challenging to young athletes of all ages.


Top 4 Plyo Exercises

Learn more about power exercises for athletes by viewing our top 4 plyo exercises free video series. You’ll have no trouble progressing your athletes to new levels of performance.

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Should Your Young Athletes Be Doing Power Cleans?

 

Young Athletes: Are Power Cleans with an Efficient Use of Our Time?

 

Young Athletes

 

By Jim Kielbaso

 

There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence and personal experience that comes into play when strength and conditioning coaches select strength training exercises, speed drills or conditioning routines for young athletes. The risk vs. reward scale is a great place to start, but not the only factor that should be considered. As a professional, I believe it is my ethical responsibility to prescribe safe exercises. But, according to the thought processes I’ve been hearing lately, it seems like a lot of people believe there are no bad exercises, just bad implementation. I understand the point to a degree, but I disagree. Risk vs. reward is one reason I feel this way, but there is another factor I weigh when making decisions.

 

Another ethical responsibility I think we all have is to implement “efficient” programs, and that is something I see missing more often than not. What I mean by that is that I think a lot of trainers waste time and energy doing things that won’t necessarily elicit the response with the young athletes that they’re after. I can see where someone may think “well, it might help, so I’ll implement it a little.” I can see that, but I hate to see coaches spending an inordinate amount of time on things that we’re not sure work better than other alternatives.

 

Let’s take the Power Clean as an example. Olympic lifting is a sport. There is a governing body and athletes compete against one another in the lifts. It’s possible that the lifts develop power, but it has never been shown that they develop power better than other alternatives. In my opinion, some of the alternatives such as dumbbell/trap bar squat jumps, pulls, DB pulls, and plyometrics are also much easier to teach and are much safer to implement and will elicit the same result. I’ve heard many coaches talk about how the catch is the most critical part of the clean to work on because that’s where the problems will be seen. The catch is also completely unnecessary, from a physiological standpoint, for developing power. Yet, as strength coaches, our romantic enchantment with the exercise keeps us doing it.

 

You’d think that if the exercise was SO great for young athletes that the rewards completely outweighed the risks, we’d have plenty of research showing just that. We don’t. We don’t have anything. It’s simply not out there.

 

Now, it might develop power. Let’s put that aside and think about whether or not it is efficient? How long does it take to get an athlete good enough at the lifts that they can actually derive the benefits? How much coaching and supervision does it take compared to, say, a squat jump? How safely will it be done when we’re not around or another coach is supervising? How many sets and reps are required to 1. Become proficient and 2. Get more powerful? We don’t know. And, is moving a bar with heavier weight even going to transfer to sport?

 

Hmmm. Again, we have no idea. What I do know are many professional strength coaches who tell me it takes them months to get their young athletes proficient enough at the clean that they no longer require daily instruction.

 

The principle of specificity states that in order for one skill to transfer to another, they need to be kinetically and kinematically the same for transfer to occur. The clean has been shown by Canavan to be dissimilar to a vertical jump, which is what is commonly argued as the movement it is most like. If it’s not like a VJ, then it’s nowhere near any other sport movement. So, is the transfer gone? I don’t know, but this principle seems to point in that direction. The principle also states that if x gets you better at y, then y should get you better at x. Playing a sport or practicing jumping does not make you better at the clean, so why do we expect the clean to get us better at a sport?

 

So, if we have no idea if it’s going to help us in sport, it takes a lot of time and energy to coach and implement, and it can be dangerous if done with slightly poor technique, is it an efficient way to spend our young athlete’s time? I have an opinion, but I don’t know the answer. I can kind of understand the argument that it helps prepare for sport, but is it efficient?

 

What I do know, is that gymnasts are incredibly powerful, flexible, and have great core strength and balance. So, should we all go through certifications for gymnastics and start implementing them with other young athletes because we want them to have all of those things? I would say that would be a poor use of our time. I know that jugglers have amazing hand-eye coordination. Should we implement juggling into our programs because we want our athletes to have that kind of coordination? Again, probably a waste of our time. So, why do we train for one sport to get better at another?

 

So, forget about whether the clean is safe or not. There are plenty of arguments either way. But, is it efficient?

Is it the best use of our time with young athletes?

Do we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is the best use of our time? In my opinion, if we can get the same result in half the time, why not use that option? I use the same thought process when determining workout volume. If I can get the same results in 45 minutes, 3 days a week, why would I ask my young athletes to train 2 hours a day, 4 days a week? But, many coaches do. I think it’s our responsibility to figure out how to maximize results in minimal time. Most young athletes are not professional strength athletes. They want to play their sport and should spend their time doing so. We should be with them the minimum amount of time possible and still get results. It’s like a prescription drug. A doctor is supposed to find the lowest dosage possible to get the desired response. As strength and conditioning professionals, I believe we should take the same approach when determining which exercises to include in our programs.

 

 

 

It’s Not the Values that Matter… It’s the Principles

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You can get an ‘A’ by studying the night before, or you can get an ‘A’ by diligently tending to your work all semester.

 

The fact that the outcome is the same seems to imply that the path doesn’t matter.

 

But what about when the exam is over?

 

Study the night before and I guarantee that every piece of information you crammed into your head will be gone inside of 60 minutes post exam.

 

 

Study consistently over the semester, and your retention of the material will remain with your forever.

 

And that is a sizeable difference.

 

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Young Athletes Power Training Myth?

Young Athletes and Plyometrics

Almost without exception, every ‘sport-performance training center’ and youth sporting association in North America both markets and incorporates some degree of plyometric conditioning into the routines of the athletes they manage. More often than not, the trainer or coach prescribes an unintelligible series of jumping exercises and can be seen either holding a clipboard and a stop watch as they count and record the number of jumps or foot contacts a young athlete makes within a certain period of time, or barking out commands to the young athletes ‘jump higher’. Plyometric training has become such a ‘catch-phrase’ in the vernacular of trainers and coaches that it is often marketed as a sole measure of distinction for a training facility or individual coach/trainer. Do you know how many sporting clubs, for instance, have told me that they would love to have their young athletes train at my facility, but their Director of Coaching has a ‘plyometric class’ that he/she hosts every week and that’s all the conditioning they need?

 

Plyometric training has become watered down in North America to such a level that now even basic health clubs have introduced ‘plyometric jumps’ into their general group exercise classes as a means of achieving some measure of ‘high intensity’ training. Jumping and then abruptly stopping and holding a fixed position, jumping and then jumping again after a cursory pause or being taken through a series of jumping exercises without being taught proper execution of either the jumping or landing phases respectively are simply gross misappropriations of what plyometric training is or how it should be applied.

 

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