Plyometric Training Basics Post 2

In running, jumping and many other athletic events, the athletes’ foot or hand is in contact with the ground, ball or opponent only for a fraction of a second before the next contraction occurs. The pre-stretch that occurs when running or jumping helps the next contraction be more rapid and forceful. The body has a neurological inhibition that prevents the muscles from contracting so powerfully that it damages the tendon, or the attached bone. This inhibitory mechanism is actually set too conservatively. Utilizing training methods that use the pre-stretch contraction partly reduces this inhibition, allowing a more rapid and powerful contraction than before.

There is great variability possible in plyometrics, limited only by knowledge and creativity of the coach or practitioner. Choose exercises that simulate part or all of the movements used in the sport. Choosing the safest and most effective exercises requires an intimate knowledge of movement in a given sport, and the direction force must be applied to facilitate the movement. An experienced strength and conditioning coach or trainer who doesn’t specialize in your particular sport can watch video of a sport and pick up on the main movements requiring speed and decide which specific plyometric exercises can be chosen. If an athlete has a particularly weak area of his or her game, emphasis can be placed on that movement.

Plyometrics for lower body can include: jumping, bounding, rebounding after dropping from a height (depth drops), weight-release jumps, hopping on one leg. Any of these can be performed for vertical height or vertical distance. They can also be performed in place, forward, backward or laterally. To perform weight-release jumps, hold weights in the hands and drop them as the feet leave the ground during the jump. The idea in all these methods is to rebound as rapidly as possible.

Upper body and midsection plyometrics include some of the same techniques, but primarily use medicine balls for catching and throwing in various directions with a partner, bouncing off a wall or rebounding trampoline or doing twisting movements with a medicine ball with ropes.

Volume and intensity of plyometric training must initially be low and increase over time. Within the athletes’ program, the volume of training and the intensity are inversely proportional. Bounding drills are less intense than single-leg hops, which are less intense than depth drops. The intensity of depth drops is directly proportional to the height of the jumping platform. In medicine-ball drills, intensity varies directly with the weight of the ball and the speed with which it is thrown, bounced or dropped.

The timing of plyometrics training is important in two ways. The first way is integrating the sport skill, resistance training and plyometrics programs so they are focused on the same goals. An athlete training for muscular endurance is doing light weights and high volume (total reps) and developing a fitness base. During this time, no plyometrics are performed. When the athlete is in the muscular hypertrophy mesocycle, they will be using moderately heavy weights and medium volume. Muscular hypertrophy requires enough rest to grow. Light intensity plyometrics may be used during this cycle. During the strength-training mesocycle, the athlete lifts heavy weights at a moderate speed and somewhat low volume. Low to medium intensity plyometrics may be used.

High-intensity plyometrics should be done during the time the athlete is in the power mesocycle of resistance training. During this time, the athlete is lifting explosively for sets of one to five repetitions. This is coming toward the start of the season in strength, speed and power sports.

The other aspect of timing concerns the order in which different aspects of training are performed. After a sufficient warm-up, power training is done prior to weight training, or is done on a different day. Endurance training is performed after weight training or on a different day or different time of day. Endurance training sets up the wrong kind of motor pattern for power training and strength training. Fatigue of any kind, reduces speed and coordination.

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