The aim of plyometrics is to generate the strongest contraction possible in the shortest amount of time — like stretching and shooting a rubber band across the room. “Plyometrics are used to develop and enhance explosiveness in athletes to improve sport-specific skills and performance,” explains Jim Smith, CSCS, and owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning in Elmira, N.Y. They also burn a ton of fat by forcing your body out of its comfort zone, creating a metabolic disturbance and asking your muscles to react differently than they would during a typical cardio or weight-training session.
- Start with a dynamic warm-up such as arm swings, squats and jumping jacks.
- Practice each move slowly to get the mechanics down before going all out.
- Do all reps for each exercise in a row with no rest in between.
- Go all out, going as hard, fast and high as you can for each rep.
- Always land softly, absorbing the impact with your muscles, not your joints.
- Cool down for five to 10 minutes with some light cardio, and finish up with static or dynamic stretching.
Your Sky-High Plyo Plan
Follow the reps, rest periods and circuits for your level as shown.
|Reps||6||10||Up to 15|
|Rest Between Exercises||15 seconds||10–15 seconds||10–15 seconds|
|Number of Circuits||1||2||3|
|Rest Between Circuits||n/a||3 minutes||3 minutes|
One-Legged Forward Hop
Targets: quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves
Setup: Stand on one leg with your arms at your sides, elbows bent.
Move: Bend your standing knee, then extend your leg forcefully, hopping upward and forward. Land and bend your knee to absorb the impact, then immediately repeat. Do all reps on one side before switching. Use your arms to help you.
Targets: quads, glutes, calves, abs
Setup: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
Move: Sink halfway into a squat, then extend your legs and explode upward, bringing your knees up toward your chest in midair. Straighten your legs, landing softly on the balls of your feet, and immediately compress and repeat.
Targets: glutes, hamstrings, quads, front delts, pectorals, core
Setup: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides.
Move: Crouch and place your palms on the ground. Jump your feet back into a push-up position, then immediately hop them back between your hands. Quickly extend your legs and explode into the air. reaching your arms above your head.
Targets: glutes, hamstrings, quads, abductors, lateral delts
Setup: Stand with your feet together, arms at your sides.
Move: Lower into a half squat, then leap into the air, lifting your arms to the sides and opening your legs into an X-shape in the air. Bring your arms and legs back together quickly and land softly.
Box Ski Jump
Targets: glutes, hamstrings, calves, obliques
Setup: Stand to the side of a small box or block with your arms at your sides, knees slightly bent.
Move: Hop back and forth laterally over the box as if skiing, using your arms to help generate upward momentum and landing lightly on your toes with each rep.