Harder, better, faster, strongerMarch 6, 2013
In the words of lyrical genius Kanye West, today’s blog entry explains how you can “work it harder, make it better, do it faster, make us stronger” using plyometric exercises.
To reference another leading fitness source Wikipedia (insert sarcastic tone), plyometrics, also known as “jump training” or “plyos”, are exercises based around having muscles exert maximum force in as short a time as possible, with the goal of increasing both speed and power. This type of training focuses on learning to move from a muscle extension to a contraction in a rapid or explosive way, for example with specialised repeated jumping.
While plyometric training is primarily adopted by elite athletes to improve game day performance, even amateur athletes and those ‘weekend warriors’ undertaking local fun runs and marathons, can benefit. Regardless of the sport or level at which it is played, plyometric training can improve one’s speed over 30-40 metres by half a second and increase one’s vertical jump by 10 centimetres.
Not only will plyometric training increase an athlete’s performance but it also reduces the risk of overuse injuries by strengthening the weak posterior chain, i.e. buttocks, adductors, hamstrings and calves, which counteracts the strong hip flexors and quads, resulting from same pace running or “shuffling”. The ballistic nature of a plyometric exercises also works wonders for strengthening your tendons! Win, win!
It is important when carrying out plyometric training that you be realistic as it is fundamentally your genetic makeup which dictates how fast you can run or how high you can jump.
There are a plethora of plyometric exercises you can include in your program but I have shortlisted my favourite three:
1. Jump Split Squat > Split squat with a jump in between
2. Bounding > Mark out a 25 metre track and bound forward, taking as few steps as possible over the distance
3. Single Leg Hop > Using the same 25 metre track as the above Bounding exercise, take as few hops as possible over the distance
The number of repetitions should mirror the relevant sport/activity, e.g. half marathon runners or AFL players should maintain high repetitions as they need to reproduce increased speed over a longer period while rugby players require fewer repetitions at 100% effort.
So, “don’t act like I never told you. Baby, you’re making it (harder, better, faster, stronger)”!