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What is Plyometric Training?

Plyometrics Training is a specific type of training that is designed to increase the Rate of Force Development (RFD) which in-turn increases maximal force output through increased speed at which the contractile elements of the muscle can develop force. It is used by Strength and Conditioning coaches within an athletes periodized training program to deliberately manipulate the training variable in question (power) to ensure peak performance is achieved during competition phases.  

In 2019, Noonan, J from the UK Strength and Conditioning Association gave an in depth presentation on the use of a plyometrics training continuum for the development of athletic potential in young footballers where acceleration plays a key role in sporting success. Throughout the lecture Noonan stressed the importance of movement competency and ensuring the correct level of plyometric training was utilised periodically to obtain the greatest stress stimuli response whilst presenting over stressing the muscle elasticity during the season. 

To fully understand how this mechanism is utilized you must first understand that force = mass X acceleration and power = strength X speed.

Therefore, if we are looking to develop the amount of force an athlete is able to produce then we can either look at training to develop their mass or acceleration.

Likewise, when looking to increase power output the two subcomponents to consider in your training are Strength and speed.

Once this concept has been fully understood you can then begin to utilize Plyometric training to significantly develop an athlete’s Rate of Force Development and subsequently the amount of power they are able to generate.

Plyometric Exercise developed as a result from earlier research conducted by Komi and Bosco (1978) into the increased concentric force when proceeded by active eccentric stretching of the muscle and is now referred to as the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC).

To simplify, think of the SSC as powerful natural movements which look to improve the functions of the nervous system through the muscles being loaded and then contracted in a series of rapid sequences.

There are however a few rules you must also consider, in order for the exercises to be deemed “plyometric” and not just simply ballistic exercises then they must have a contraction time under 0.25 seconds with small angular displacements and can be observed in exercises such as depth jumping or hopping exercises.

Plyometric Training

What are The Benefits of Plyometric Training?

There are many benefits to incorporating plyometric exercises into your training plan as we’ve already discussed it is one of the most efficient ways to develop an athlete’s Rate of Force Development which then directly increases the amount of power they are able to generate through increasing the speed at which the contractile elements of the muscle can develop force.

Plyometric training also has a unique benefit to a specific set of athletes who participate in sports which are categorized by weight.

Whether it is a powerlifting competition or professional combat sports there are many athletes who must meet a specific weight when looking to compete in their given field.

The inclusion of weight restrictions, therefore, offer several challenges with respect to the amount of power those athletes are able to generate as the amount of mass is often limited which has a down regulatory effect on the amount of force that can be generated as well as the strength capacity of the athlete. Hence in such sports, a great emphasis can be placed on utilizing the stretch-shortening cycle and increasing the acceleration and speed to account for mass and strength-related limitations placed on the athletic potential. 

To summarise, Athletes like Canelo Álvarez and Connor Mcgregor are renowned in their fields for their ability to generate knockout power which is usually only seen with heavyweights where the sheer mass of opponents results in more power in the punch! However, despite holding far less mass combat sports specialists like Canelo and Mcgregor are able to utilize acceleration, speed and biomechanics to generate devasting knockout power!

An Example of a Plyometric Workout

Before any exercise session it is vital to prepare the body for a workout, this however is even more critical when performing plyometric exercises which are looking to stimulate the elasticity of the muscle and utilise the Streetch Shortening Cycle, hence like all good training sessions the workout is split into a Warm-up, main session and cool down to ensure maximal stimuli and recovery. 

 

 

Performance Preparation (warm-up)
Exercise/DrillIntensity (sets/reps/time/distance)Comments
Dynamic stretches2 sets of stride for eachImproves the mobility for the session and increases the blood flow to the muscles
Vertical jump to to a stimulus6-8 repetitionsThis will also mobilise the joints but potentiate the muscles as they have to act to a stimulus.
Static short explosive step sprints to a stimuls4-6 repartitionsThis will activate the core, and increase the blood flow to muscles also potentiating the ankle joint which is going to be key for the session ahead
Main Workout
Exercise/DrillIntensity (sets/reps/time/distance)Comments
Hurdle jumps4-6 repetitionsWill help to develop leg muscle power
Hurdle jumps progressed with box jump at the end4 repetitionsFurther develop muscle power
Ladders 1 foot in each3 repetitionsHelp to improve functions of nervous system resulting in overall power output
Ladders 2 foot in each3 repetitionsHelp to improve functions of nervous system resulting in overall power output
Ladders drill side to side3 repetitionsHelp to improve functions of nervous system resulting in overall power output
Cool Down
Exercise/DrillIntensity (sets/reps/time/distance)Comments
Light Jogging.3-4 minutes of very light jogging, 3 RPE scale.This will help deplete the lactic acid in the muscles for intense exercise.
Stretching.2-3 minutes of stretching.Will help replenish the muscles with blood to carry out the lactic acid still present in the muscles.
Comments (safety/equipment/client considerations)
Any past injuries and safety checks will be thorough. Equipment needed; Sports hall and gym access, hurdles, ladders, horse box.

Plyometric Equipment

Plyometric Equipment although usually pretty simple by nature tends to be a little pricey due to the many benefits stated above! Hence when looking to purchase any plyometric equipment you want to make sure that you get as much bang for your buck as possible! There’s a few things to consider, height, sturdiness, adjustability etc! The regular go to is the traditional plyometric Box which is often made out of plywood and is quite possibly the most expensive box you will ever by prices can range from anywhere between £100-£400!

Hence, our advice would be to go for the Plyometric Box Wall Rack  Which has a total of nine different heights which are easily adjustable through the J-cup mechanism used on the rack. At just over 1300mm in height you can be sure that it is able to meet all of your plyometric training needs when looking to perform explosive box jumps! 

plyometrix training box 

 

In Summary

Plyometric training allows athletes to shorten the amount of time required to reach maximum force output, leading to more power from each contraction. It works on the bases that a muscle’s power is determined by how long it takes to convert strength into speed and thus by focusing on the speed aspect of this equation it therefore increases the amount of power the muscles are able to generate.

 

 

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