Now that we have reviewed the fundamentals of plyometrics (Part 1 and Part 2) and the factors that affect it, let´s begin with a sample of a basic plyometric program. An off-season plyometric program could be 3 days per week for beginners and 4 days per week for advanced athletes. The sessions should be on non-consecutive days alternating low intensity plyometrics exercises with high intensity plyometrics exercises.
If you already are performing resistance training in your off-season, like weights, Cross Fit, or body weight exercises, you can include plyometrics on the same day but don't target the same areas of the body. For example, you can perform high intensity upper body resistance training with low intensity lower body plyometrics and vice-versa. This avoids overloading any particular portion of the body and avoids overloading the whole body with two high-intensity types of resistance training. Remember that plyometrics is a form of resistance training.
Set your total plyometric volume according to your experience, remembering that every time your foot contacts the ground, it counts as a repetition:
Beginner 80 to 100 reps. Intermediate 100 to 120 reps. Advance 120 to 140 reps.
In upper body plyometrics, repetitions are each time your hands contact the medicine ball or the ground if you are performing a variation of pushups with jumps; and the volume corresponds to the levels given above.
No matter what type of athlete you are, everyone should include a warm-up of exercises from a very low intensity and low complexity exercise to a little higher intensity (but still low intensity) and higher complexity. For example:
2 x 20-yard Marching drill
2 x 20-yard Jogging include toe jogging, straight, leg jogging and butt-kickers.
2 x 20-yard Skipping.
2 x 20-yard Footwork. You can perform shuttle and stride drills by example.
2 x 20-yard Lunging, it is better if this drill is performed multidirectional.
As you can see, the drills increase in complexity and intensity in that order, beginning with the ones that mimic running movements and emphasize technique to the ones that prepare the body for impact and prepare the legs for faster exercises.
The main portion of the plyometric work out should include a maximum of two drills or exercises, the warm up reps should be counted, and the main portion will be the difference between the total volume less the reps of the warm up.
Again, the first exercise should be a drill with less intensity and less complexity; in part 2 we included the common lower body plyometrics exercises:
Jumps in place (Two-Foot Ankle Hop, Squat Jump, Jump and Reach, Single and Double-Leg Tuck Junmp, etc)
Standing Jumps (Single and Double Leg Vertical Jump, Jump over Barrier)
Multiple hops and jumps (Double-Leg Zigzag Hop, Front Barrier Hop, Lateral Barrier Hop)
Bounds (Skip, Power Skip, Backward Skip)
Box drills (Single, Alternate, Lateral and Side to Side Push-Offs, Squat and Lateral Box Jump)
Depth drills (Single and Double-Leg Depth Jump and variations)
The exercises are listed in increasing intensity and complexity, so the athlete´s experience should dictate the main portion plyometric drills. For example:
2 x 10 squat jump, rest max 40 secs between sets. This exercise should be performed without recovery between reps
2 x 10 Split Squat Jump, rest 50 secs between exercise and between sets.
1 x 10 Jump and Reach. No recovery between reps.
1 x 10 Jump over some kind of a barrier no greater than 10 inches in height and no wider than 4 inches.
These exercises are performed as maximal efforts with 8-12 secs of recovery between reps and 1-minute rest minute between sets.
1 x 50-yard single-leg bound (25-yard each leg)
1 x 50-yard double-leg bound
1 x 50-yard alternate-leg bound
These exercises are performed as maximal efforts with 1-minute rest between sets.
2 x 8 double-leg Tuck Jump without recovery between reps.
2 x 10 single-leg vertical jump.
1 x 5 depth jump to second box (box between 12 and 15 inches max)
1 x 10 side to side push-off.
This is only an example of a plyometric workout, you can switch same level of intensity exercises week to week.
Remember that progression is required. You can increase the reps per week by a maximum of 10% during the first two weeks, then include a week of recovery at 50% of the volume of the last week, or you can keep or slightly less the volume but increase the intensity week to week.
After the main sets it is important to perform some low to medium intensity aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes to help the body to recover from the anaerobic work just performed. Keep it aerobic, because the body has already performed anaerobic work!
Now that you know more about plyometrics, include it in your off-season and in-season program to become stronger and faster!
Have a happy and productive off-season and a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!!
Manuel Delgado Gaona, MD