Using Plyometrics To Jump Your Way To Gains
Plyometric training has been used in athletics for a long time. It is designed to develop explosiveness and quickness. One side effect of all of this jumping around is muscular gains and gains in strength. With that in mind these exercises are beginning to find their way into the training of lifters wanting to develop slabs of rock hard muscle.
The great thing about plyometrics is that they can be done with very little equipment and in a relatively small area. There are many more plyometric exercises for the lower body and core than for the shoulder girdle and arms. Some plyometric boxes (and these can be any sturdy box that will allow your weight to land on them) of varying heights from 12 inches up to as high as you can jump (generally 36 inches) can take you a long way in plyometric training. A medicine ball or two (these run in weight from 2 pounds up to around 30 pounds, a good intermediate weight is 15 to 18 pounds) added to the mix and you have a full workout set-up. The last piece of equipment needed is a good pair of sneakers (basketball shoes or running shoes with good arch support will work well.)
Plyometrics use your own bodyweight for resistance but require you to explosively move your body through a variety of motions. The most popular plyometric exercises include jumping motions with lots of energy. Explosive jumps are great as they are basic and require no additional equipment, just your body. You start with palms flat on the floor, then explosively drive up with your hips and legs, jumping as high as you can, reaching up with your arms as you jump, then, upon landing, return to the palms on the floor position, then repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Plyometrics can be done in sets very similar to weight training. Three to four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions will work well to stimulate the muscles to grow.
Another great way to combine Plyometrics into your training would be to use a box. Take the following steps:
- Stand infront of the box with two feet apart
- Jump as high as you can onto the top of the box
- Jump up into the air and come down as hard as you can
- Jump off the box and try land as quietly as you can (like a cat landing)
- Repeat the steps
The medicine balls come in handy for upper body work. Starting with the core of the trunk muscles, the abdominals, you can use the medicine ball to do sit-ups. Start with the medicine ball over your head on the floor and as you sit up you pass the ball to a partner at your feet, they then pass it back and you go back to the starting position. This pulls the abdominals, lats, intercostals, obliques, hip flexors and shoulders into the exercise.
Other upper body medicine ball exercises include: chest passes with the medicine ball; overhead passes; starting with the ball on the ground explode up with the hips and throw the ball up and over your head backwards; in the same starting position as the exercise before you explode up and push the ball up and out in front of you; and adding the medicine ball to the explosive jumps mentioned earlier will add an upper body component to that exercise, as well.
Plyometrics are a great way to shock the muscles into new growth. They recruit a large number of muscle fibers due to their explosive nature. You are moving your entire body weight explosively through a range of motion. The equipment and space requirement is not excessive so these can be done on vacation, at home, or anywhere you need to get a workout in and don’t have access to the gym. They make a great end to an intense workout. After a good hard leg workout, add in a couple of sets of box jumps and your legs will be screaming, but they will respond with massive growth. A good hard chest workout followed by some medicine ball chest passes and those pectorals and triceps will be begging for mercy.
Plyometrics are not just for traditional sports. Bodybuilders who neglect them are missing out on a great opportunity for slapping on some solid muscular gains. Don’t be afraid of plyometrics, jump right in.
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