These high-intensity moves can improve your performance, too
Ever seen people at the gym do a series of crazy-intense, rapid-fire jumps, skips, and hops? You were probably witnessing plyometrics, a type of high-octane training that taps into energy stored in muscles to encourage muscle development, agility, cardio functioning, stamina, and speed, explains Neal Pire, sports conditioning expert and author of Plyometrics for Athletes at All Levels. Plyos are in the news these days; a new study found that a moderate plyo routine done on a hard surface improved athletic performance. Oh, and thanks to the energy needed to do them, they incinerate serious calories too.
Whether you want to boost your skills on the field or court or are looking for a boredom-busting workout to keep you on your toes and pay off with a smoking body, give these 10 plyometric moves, developed by Pire, a try (after a thorough warm-up, of course). Pire suggests adding two or three of these exercises into your workout, and doing 2-3 sets of 10 reps. But perfect form is key, so take a break if your form slips.
Starting Position: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands clasped behind your head.
1. Keeping your weight on your heels, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause in the squat.
2. Without counter-movement and without the use of your arms, jump as high as possible.
3. When landing, make sure to absorb the impact by pushing your hips back and flexing your knees.
Scissor Jumps (Alternating legs)
Starting Position: Stand in a split squat position with your left foot forward, right foot back, and your right arm forward and left arm back. Keep your chest up.
1. Jump and scissor the arms and legs at the same time so that the opposite arm comes forward with the opposite leg.
2. Upon landing, reverse by jumping and scissoring your legs back to your original starting position.
Starting Position: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands at your sides. Keep your weight on your heels.
1. Quickly push your hips back while flexing your knees to squat down into a quarter-squat. Swing your arms backward.
2. Without pausing at the bottom of the squat, reverse direction and explosively jump straight up into the air, popping your knees up toward your chest.
3. When landing, make sure that you absorb the impact by pushing the hips back and flexing your knees.
Repeat single efforts for desired number of repetitions, or as a series of multiple repetition jumps.
Standing Broad Jump
Starting Position: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands at your sides. Face the direction of your jump.
1. Quickly push your hips back and flex your knees into a quarter-squat. As you do this, swing your arms backward.
2. Without pausing, jump forward as you swing your arms forward.
3. When landing, make sure that you absorb the impact by pushing your hips back and flexing your knees.
Repeat single efforts or multiple-repetitions.
Starting Position: Stand in an upright position with your knees slightly bent and your feet about shoulder-width apart.
1. Flexing your knees to quickly drop your body 10 to 12 inches, rapidly explode upward, forward and to the side. Swing your arms forcefully upward.
2. Upon landing, immediately repeat the jump, but jump forward diagonally in the opposite direction. Repeat.
Single-legged Hops (“Dot Drills”)
Dots can be drawn onto the floor with chalk or you may use masking tape to designate your target dots or boxes in which to land each hop.
Starting Position: Stand on one foot with the other foot held free behind your body.
1. Quickly hop onto the first dot.
2. Immediately upon landing, hop to the next dot.
3. Continue hopping back and forth in your desired pattern, spending as little time as possible on the ground upon landing each hop.
Starting position: Stand on your right leg with your left leg behind you with your left toe on the ground for balance.
1. Flexing your right knee to lower your hips, explode to your left.
2. Land on your left foot, bending your left knee to absorb your landing impact and bringing your right leg behind your left foot to counterbalance as you decelerate.
3. Immediately reverse direction, leaping back onto your right foot.
This can also be done with one box instead of several. The height of the box may vary, but should be in the region of 12 to 30 inches. Starting Position: Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart in front of a row of 4 to 6 boxes. Contract your abdominal muscles to stabilize your trunk and spine.
1. Quickly drop down into a squatting position and immediately jump onto the box, landing softly on the balls of your feet in a squat position.
2. Jump off the box onto the ground, landing softly on the balls of your feet in a squat position.
3. Jump onto the next box, keeping the feet touch-down time on the ground as short as possible.
Repeat for one to three sets, allowing for full recovery between each set.
Starting Position: Stand upright on a box or bench. Contract your abdominal muscles to stabilize your trunk and spine.
1. Step—don’t jump—off of the bench with your left foot.
2. As soon as you land, explode vertically as high as you can. Try to minimize ground-contact time–don’t sink down into a deep squat before jumping up.
Repeat, alternating legs.
Box “Jump-ups” (Step-ups with a jump)
Starting Position: Stand directly in front of a box with your right foot firmly placed on top of the bench and your left foot on the floor.
1. Press up onto the box with your right foot and explode your left knee up toward the ceiling, causing both feet to lift off the bench. Your arms should alternate, as your left leg lifts upward, your right arm comes forward, as it would when sprinting.
2. Land with your right foot back on the box and your left foot on the floor, as your arms reverse direction and repeat
Repeat, then switch legs.
PUBLISHED: FEBRUARY 3, 2014 | BY ESTHER CRAIN