If you're stuck in a rut with your training, sick of the same 12 rep sets, then you need to shake things up! Plyometrics is used by world class athletes and fitness models regularly to push their bodies to new limits; increasing power, gaining muscle mass or promoting fat loss.
Below you can see Ciara performing sumo jump-squats to focus on power in the glutes & legs.
What is Plyometrics?
Plyometric exercises are explosive movements which aim to increase speed and power. Whether this be in specific areas such as your glutes or the entire body, exercises such as jump squats, clap press ups and box jumps are all examples of plyometrics.
The first phase of a plyometric movement is the eccentric part, here the muscles are quickly lengthening. This stores a huge amount of energy in our muscles. The second phase is a short pause or rest period, the longer this pause the more energy will be lost so it's important to keep this transition phase as short as possible. The last part is the concentric phase; here the muscles are shortening and contracting as fast as the athlete is able to.
As an example when performing jump squats; as you bend your legs this would be phase 1, before a short pause at the bottom of the movement which is phase 2 and finally followed by phase 3 as you jump off the ground!
Research has shown that the shorter the transition phase, the more speed and power can be developed. Your glutes will be stronger than ever before!
Power & Plyometrics.
Typically, when aiming to increase power, exercises are performed using low rep ranges with heavy loads. This is not the only way however; a balanced training plan should also look to include higher rep sets with a resistance of 20-30% of the athlete's max due to the sheer speed the exercise can be performed at which naturally develops greater power in the chosen muscle. For example, if your maximum back squat is 100kg, completing jump-squats with 30kg for 8-10 reps will significantly help to increase your glutes / leg power and a sure way of surpassing your current 1 rep max.
Fat Loss & Plyometrics.
Performing explosive exercises will raise the intensity of any circuit or interval style workout due to the physical demands placed on your muscles. Adding plyometrics as 'stations' in a circuit means the intensity of each exercise is kept really high, a great way of increasing the demand of our anaerobic and aerobic systems which will make it harder for our bodies to recover before the next interval in the circuit. If you're familiar with HIIT you'll know that higher intensity exercises will only push your body into greater 'oxygen debt'; where your body will struggle to replenish itself with oxygen even after the workout... this means for days after each session fat is being burnt!
When is the best time to use Plyometrics?
The first thing to establish before using plyometrics is your own fitness goals. Are you looking to gain speed and power or are you more focused on the fat-burning benefits that plyometrics offers?
For increasing explosive power, aim to complete repetitions of 10-12 using 30% of your maximum resistance for each exercise. Complete 1-2 exercises in this manner for the desired muscle group at the start of your workout. Advanced athletes may aim to complete 3 exercises. As you are using predominantly fast-twitch muscle fibres for each movement, your muscles will fatigue quickly so you'll need to focus on these exercises first off and perform slower moves later on in the session. For glutes & legs focus think; jump-squats, jump-lunges, box jumps and split-squats.
If you are aiming to burn fat, then your best bet is using plyometrics in a HIIT circuit or Tabata workout paired with one or two other exercises with minimal rest. As you are aiming for maximum reps here, it is not essential to use resistance exercises, although more advanced athletes should. Here you can keep your muscles firing at a high intensity using your bodyweight, and with little rest time between exercises you'll keep your metabolism high for up to 48 hours after training - allowing you to burn more calories even at rest...now that's productivity!
Using a glute band is another great way of recruiting more muscle fibres using our bodyweight and especially good for increasing glute activation.
Glute Power Building – Full Workout:
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