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Coaches Blog

Beginning a Plyometric Program

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

"Plyometrics exercise refers to those activities that enable a muscle to reach maximal force in the shortest possible time."

A plyometric exercise aims to increase the power of a subsequent movement using muscles and tendons, elastic components, and the stretch reflex.


The success of a plyometric training program depends on the design. It should be based on mode, intensity, frequency, duration, recovery, and progression.


Mode: in plyometrics can include lower body, upper body, or trunk. Lower body plyometrics usually benefit any athlete and any sport, including running and triathlon. 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: The intensity of plyometrics is based on how much the muscles, connective tissue, and joints are stressed, which depends not only on speed but also 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. New athletes, youth athletes, those carrying excess weight, and athletes with a history of knee and ankle injuries should avoid high-intensity exercises and those with 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 more sessions in the off-season than in-season, decreasing to 1-2 sessions per week when the season begins.

Recovery: 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.

Duration It depends again on your athletic experience, age, and part of the training cycle, but it typically begins with your off-season program and lasts 8-14 weeks, with variations during the different stages of your training program.


Progression: 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 last week's volume, or you can keep or slightly less the volume increase the intensity week to week.

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 perform a variation of pushups with jumps.


No matter what type of athlete you are, everyone should include a warm-up of exercises with 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 includes 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.

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 workout 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:

An example of the main set for:

Beginner

  • 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.

Intermediate

  • 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.

Advanced

  • 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.

After the main set, it is important to perform some low to medium-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes to help the body recover from the anaerobic work. Keep it aerobic because the body has already performed anaerobic work!


Include it in your pre-season program to become stronger and faster!

 

Coach 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. His coaching philosophy is based on exercise efficiency. Coach Manuel can be reached at manuel@teammpi.com.

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