Want to Get in Shape? Try Plyometrics

Weight lifting can ensure you get serious gains, but if you want results fast, plyometrics might be the way to go. Explosive movements — like lunge hops or squat jumps — combine power, speed, and strength, meaning they work several body parts at once. With plyometrics, you will build more muscle, and you’ll also burn fat, so you can see your newly sculpted muscles.

What are plyometrics?

young man jump roping

A man jump roping | iStock.com

Plyometrics, or “jump training,” are intense, maximum-effort exercises aimed at increasing power and speed. Similar to when you jumped rope as a kid, these exercises use jumping and your bodyweight to build quick, powerful muscles.

By doing plyometric exercises, your muscles are trained with force development, guaranteeing a rise in muscular power and force. These jumping exercises allow you to build muscle, burn fat, and increase performance with very few to no machines, making it one of the most cost-effective and efficient training methods.

Lower body plyometrics exercises

Muscular legs

Muscular legs | iStock.com

Because most plyometric exercises are based on bounding and hopping, there are tons of ways to work your lower body and core. Lower body plyos fall into two general categories: drop jumping and bounding and hurdling.

Drop jumping involves dropping — not jumping — to the ground from a raised platform or box, and then immediately jumping up. The shorter your feet are in contact with the ground, the more effective the exercise will be. Drop jumping is a relatively high impact form of plyometric training and should be introduced after you have become accustomed to lower impact alternatives.

Bounding and hurdling will amp up your strength and speed, especially in forward motion. You want to use oversized strides, and try to stay in the air as long as possible.

Popular lower body moves

man performing bodyweight squats on a track

Man doing squats on a track | iStock.com

If you’re new to plyos, standing-based jumps performed on the spot, like tuck jumps or split jumps, are great, low-intensity moves to try. From there, you can move on to bunny hops, box jumps, and bounding. Here are some basic moves to get you started.

Tuck Jumps:

  • Begin in a standing position.
  • Jump up, grabbing both knees as they come up your chest.
  • Return to the starting position landing on the balls of the feet.
  • Try to anticipate the landing and spring up as quickly as you can.

Bunny Hops:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Lower into a squat position and jump as far forward as possible.
  • Land on the balls of both feet.
  • Try to keep your body vertical and straight, and do not let your knees move apart or to either side.
  • Try to anticipate the landing and spring up as quickly as you can.
  • Keep the feet touch down time on the ground to the shortest time possible.
  • Use quick double-arm swings and keep landings short.
  • Keep the feet touch down time on the ground to the shortest time possible.

Working the upper body

man performing push-ups on a dock outside

Man performing push-ups outside | iStock.com

Although the majority of plyo exercises that you’ll find are for the lower body, that doesn’t mean you can’t work your upper body as well. One of the most basic upper body moves you can do is a plyo pushup.

Plyometric Push-Ups:

  • Start by getting into a push-up position.
  • Lower yourself to the ground and then explosively push up so that your hands leave the ground.
  • Catch your fall with your hands and immediately lower yourself into a push-up again and repeat.

If you have a medicine ball, there are a wide variety of throws that you can do to give your arms a great plyometric workout.

Squat Throws:

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Knees should be slightly bent.
  • Hold a medicine ball at chest level and squat down to a parallel position.
  • Quickly explode up and jump as high as you can. As you start your jump you should start to shoulder press the ball up and reach full extensions with the arms when you are at the peak of your jump. Push the ball as high as possible into the air. Try to minimize the time spent in the squatted position. It should be a quick squat and jump.
  • Catch the ball on the bounce and repeat according to prescribed repetitions.

Whether you’re working your lower body or upper body, plyometrics combines strength training and cardiovascular exercises, allowing you to kill two birds with one stone. It’s time to get jumping!