The benefits of plyometrics are the simple but elusive athletic needs of more speed, more stamina and more power, be it in running, jumping, throwing, swimming or another sport-specific movement. It's about the efficient use and manipulation of muscles to produce consistent peak performance, not about building bulkier muscles.
These benefits come with practice, training and care. These exercises take competitive athletes who want a permanent, physical edge to the next level of competition by teaching their bodies to do what they want them to do. To attempt a plyometrics routine, you've got to already be in shape. While sometimes used to build muscle back as part of rehabilitation or physical therapy, plyometrics are still primarily for use by athletes who are in training and are already strong, fit and flexible. Flexibility prevents injury, while also ensuring that the plyometrics are used to their peak efficiency. It also helps to be strong and currently engaged in a strength-building routine. Can you back-squat (lifting with the bar of the weight held behind you at the base of your neck) double your bodyweight? Then you're suited for lower-body plyometrics. If you can bench-press your bodyweight, you're ready to try upper-body plyometrics.
While plyometics injuries aren't common, they can happen. If you attempt, say, a jumping exercise from too high, you can land wrong and twist an ankle. Even if you're doing everything right and under the guidance of a trainer, don't overwork your muscles if they feel too tender, because that can lead to tears. A proper exercise surface is important, too. It's best to avoid using a concrete or gym floor. Instead, train on soft ground or gym mats, which absorb the shock of plyometrics.
What are some plyometric exercises you can try? Check out the next page.