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A List of Plyometric Exercises You Need in Your Routine
The term “plyometric exercise” refers to any activity that allows your muscles to reach their full capacity in the shortest possible amount of time. While these types of exercises are typically sport-specific and designed to help athletes improve their performance, everyone can benefit. Here’s a list of plyometric exercises you should add to your routine if you truly want to look, feel, and perform your very best.
For this activity, you’ll need a plyo box at a height that matches your ability. Typically, you’ll start with a box closer to the ground and gradually work your way to taller boxes, which can be found online and in many health specialty shops. To perform a box jump, place the plyo box on the ground in front of you. Face the box, squat with your feet shoulder-width apart, and jump upward in an explosive, quick manner using every part of your body – even your arms. The goal is to land on the box softly and only on the very balls of your feet.
A great starting place for box jumps is three sets of 10 reps three times each week. You can also place the box to your side and perform lateral box jumps in the exact same manner, which adds some difficulty and helps target all the muscles in the legs.
Weighted Lateral Jumps
You can perform weighted lateral jumps at home or in the gym with only two simple pieces of equipment. Place a barbell on the ground, making sure each side has a weight firmly attached. Then, stand six to eight inches at the side of the barbell, and lift a weighted plate of your choosing above your head. Keeping your feet close together, bend your knees slightly and jump sideways over the bar. Continue these jumps quickly, trying to land softly each time.
For weighted lateral jumps, start with three sets of 15 reps three times per week. Remember to adjust your weight and the height of the barbell according to your ability level.
No list of plyometric exercises would be complete without broad jumps. The goal here is to jump as far as you can from a dead stop. Make sure you’re standing on a pliable surface; never perform broad jumps on concrete, asphalt, or a surface without give as this can cause joint damage and pain. Squat down with your feet about shoulder-width apart, and similar to the box jump, use your entire body in an explosive manner to jump as far forward as you can. After landing softly on the balls of your feet, immediately move into your next jump.
You should perform three sets of 15 broad jumps three times a week to start. As you become more familiar and comfortable with this exercise, you can set distance goals for yourself as a challenge.
A scissor jump is much like a lunge, only you perform this activity while staying in place. Start in a typical lunge position with one leg out in front of you, toes and knees pointing directly forward, and the other leg perfectly straight behind you. Squat down in this position as far as you can, and then use your entire body to force yourself upward. While in the air, switch your leg positions and come down softly. This can be difficult to coordinate at first, but over time, you should be able to perfect your stance and immediately transition into the next rep.
For this exercise, try starting with three sets of 10 two to three times per week. For some additional difficulty, you can use weights on your wrists.
Barbell Squat Jumps
Barbell squat jumps come in last on this list of plyometric exercises because they are usually the most difficult for beginners. To do it, set up a barbell that allows you to comfortably perform 10 reps. Hold the barbell over your shoulders and behind your head as per usual, then squat down with your feet shoulder-width apart. Much like other plyometric exercises, your goal is to use all the muscles in your body to jump as high as possible. Land softly, and immediately transition into your next rep.
Three sets of 10 up to three times per week is a great starting place. If you find this exercise particularly difficult, try practicing with just the bar and no plates at first. Then, add weight a little at a time until you can balance your selected weight comfortably. This is by no means a complete list of plyometric exercises, but it does represent the basics. Each of these exercises can be modified slightly to target specific muscle groups. Over time, you’ll find you can do more reps and add more weight, all because your muscles have been trained to react quickly to your demands. You’ll feel stronger, enjoy better muscle definition, and perform at your peak.