Although plyometrics exercises are familiar to everyone, few people realise what a vital part of many athletes' training program they are.
Plyometrics is a form of exercise that uses rapid movements to develop muscular power - by rapidly lengthening then shortening specific muscle groups while resistance is continuously applied, you can dramatically improve your explosive strength.
These exercises use gravity to store potential energy in the muscles, then immediately turn this stored energy into kinetic energy. This is of benefit to a variety of athletes, from sprinters to boxers, gymnasts to basketball players.
Most plyometrics exercises focus on the lower body, although it is possible to perform plyometrics for the upper body.
The most well known exercise is the in-depth jump, or box jump, where the athlete jumps on and off a box. As they jump off the box and land, the legs bend and store potential energy. As you then leap back up onto the box, this stored kinetic energy is utilized.
To be most effective the stored energy must be immediately used in the opposite direction.
As you might imagine, this is a demanding form of exercise. It therefore requires careful planning to incorporate it into a training program. Before performing these types of exercises you must take the time to build an endurance and strength-training base.
Once you begin doing the exercises, it is important to progressively increase the workload, and allow adequate time to rest between workouts. Regular stretching at the end of workouts will also speed up recovery time and reduce the risk of injury.