Plyometric exercises are exercises which utilize explosive movements such as jumping to increase muscle power. This type of exercise is often used by athletes to develop strength for particular movements. For example basketball players may focus on plyometric exercises which increase muscle strength in the legs and enable the athlete to jump higher while baseball pitchers may focus on plyometric exercises which improve arm strength and throwing ability.
The key to understanding plyometric exercises is understanding how muscle contractions work. An eccentric muscle contraction is a contraction in which the muscle contracts as it lengthens. Conversely a concentric muscle contraction is a contraction in which the muscle contracts as it shortens. Plyometric exercises are exercises which combine an eccentric contraction followed immediately by a concentric contraction.
The following steps will help you to incorporate plyometric exercises into your training regimen:
- Consult a physician before engaging in plyometric exercises. The explosive movements involved in plyometric exercises are intense and should only be performed by well-conditioned individuals. Additionally, children who are still growing should not participate in plyometric exercises as explosive, repetitive movements can be damaging to growth plates.
- Consult with a personal trainer experienced with plyometric exercises before beginning these exercises. This is important for learning proper form for each exercise involved. Failure to execute proper form can result in injuries.
- Warm up thoroughly before engaging in plyometric exercises. These exercises are extremely taxing on the muscles involved and failure to warm up these muscles can result in muscle pulls and tears.
- Always perform plyometric exercises on a soft surface such as matting or grass. Performing these exercises on hard surfaces such as concrete or hardwood can result in joint damage.