The What, Why, How, and When of Plyometric Training: Part 2


Posted by Dr. Manuel Delgado Gaona

This is a continuation of the three part Plyometric Training Series. Review Part 1 here

If you incorporate plyometric training, how is your program designed? Is it always the same? It´s important to understand that the success of a plyometric training program depends on the design, and should be based on mode, intensity, frequency, duration, recovery, and progression. And every session should begin with a proper warm-up.

The Mode of plyometrics can include lower body, upper body, or trunk, so the first step is to identify the parts of the body to target with the plyometric program. Lower body plyometrics usually benefit any athlete and any sport including running and triathlon because these sports require producing a maximal amount of muscular force in a short amount of time. There are six main groups of lower body plyometrics:

  • Jumps in Place
  • Standing Jumps
  • Multiple Hops and Jumps
  • Bounds
  • Box Drills
  • Deep Jumps

Within each group are exercises of varying grades of difficulty, requiring more ability and experience of the athlete to perform them safely.

Intensity of plyometrics is based in how much the muscles, connective tissue and joints involved are stressed which depends not only on speed but on how hard the body impacts the ground. For example, skipping is low intensity, while depth jumps are high intensity. Two other factors that affect intensity are points of contact and body weight. The intensity should be chosen based on your experience, training cycle, and age. Brand new athletes, youth athletes, those carrying excess weight, and athletes with a history of knee and ankle injuries should avoid high intensity, one point of contact plyometric drills like one leg depth jumps.

Frequency (sessions per week) depends on the time in the training cycle and the sport. There should be a higher number of session in the off-season than on-season, decreasing to 1-2 sessions per week when the season begins.

Similar to workouts that are designed to improve anaerobic power, the goal of recovery in a plyometric workout is to gain a complete and adequate recovery during reps, sets and workouts. The specific recovery time depends on the intensity, frequency and volume.

How long should last the plyometric program? It depends again on your athletic experience, age, and part of the training cycle, but commonly it begins with your off-season program and last 8-14 weeks, with variations during the different stages of your training program.

Like other forms of resistance and aerobic training design, plyometric training design follows the principles of progressive overload.

In general, as the intensity increases the volume decreases. The method of progressive overload is based on the athlete's background and goal of the training phase but generally the progression involves the intensity first and then the volume.

Every plyometric workout must begin with a general warm-up, stretching and low intensity dynamic movements (specific warm-up). This specific warm-up could include exercises like marching, jogging, skipping and lunging.

A qualified coach can prescribe appropriate frequency, volume (number of reps and set per plyometric workout), intensity, and recovery for the plyometric program.

To be continued….

Dr. Manuel Delgado Gaona is a USAT Level II and Youth & Junior Coach, FMTri Level II Certified Coach, an ACSM exercise physiologist, and a physician specializing in anatomic pathology. He has coached age group and professional athletes at national and world levels, including those who have competed at ITU and Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Coach Manuel has been the doctor for “burned out” and chronically injured athletes, helping them get back into sport successfully and keeping them free of injuries for years. Two years ago he moved to Del Rio, Texas, to open an endurance coaching and exercise physiology studio and promoted triathlon and endurance sports among the south Texas population. His coaching philosophy is based on exercise efficiency, not only for professional athletes but for age group athletes as well. Coach Manuel can be reached at

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