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How Plyometrics Works

Plyometric Exercises
The vertical jump can produce explosive strength.
The vertical jump can produce explosive strength.

Plyometrics may look like simple exercises, but they are part of a precise and advanced training system, so seek out a trainer before you begin a regimen in earnest. Success can be ensured -- or at least enhanced -- with proper sports nutrition, too. And when you start, don't do too much too fast. Plyometrics should be performed no more than three to four times a week (for 10 to 15 minutes at a time) at first to properly train muscles and neurons. It's a gradual process to change the hardwiring of your brain and muscles.

Plyometrics is a mid-workout activity. You should have already done some basic but thorough stretching, aerobic exercise and/or weight training before the session. You should be very loose and very mobile.

Here are some examples of plyometric routines which are simple and even fun:

Slalom jump -- Stand with your feet together on one side of a line. Jump over the line from side to side, repeatedly, with your feet held together.

Depth jump -- Stand on a raised platform approximately 2 to 3 feet (61-91 centimeters) above the ground. Step off with one foot, then the other, then immediately jump straight up.

Vertical jump -- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands on hips. Tilt your hips back, bend your knees, and then immediately leap straight up. Land with your feet in the same place they started.

Ankle hops -- Balance on the balls of your feet, with your heels slightly elevated and your feet about hip-width apart. Bend your knees, place your hands on your hips, and repeatedly hop forward, pushing off with and landing on the balls of your feet. Keep bouncing along, spending almost no time on the ground (hit the ground, leap), never letting your heels or toes hit the surface. Then do it backward.

Plyometric push-up -- Get into your usual push-up position then lower yourself. Now, push up quickly and forcefully so that your hands leave the ground. Catch your fall with your hands.

Explosive start throws -- Stand with your feet at hip-width and with your knees slightly bent. Pick up a medicine ball to chest level, then immediately push yourself up to stranding straight and push the ball out forward. As you push the ball forward, heave your body into a spring of a few steps. Keep repeating, alternating which foot you push out with.

To see more speed training articles, check out the next page.