Plyometric exercises are explosive moves that use strength and speed to build power. Imagine Coby Bryant or Michael Jordan jumping to make a slam dunk, plyometric training, at least in part, makes that possible.
Since they are high impact and explosive they feature their own “brand,” so to speak, of workout safety mandates. After all, you are giving your upper and lower body a pounding. Unlike other exercises, such as isometrics, where you are, by definition, stationary, you are jumping with force and landing, in most cases, on a solid surface. To alleviate any stress in this respect then, it is a good idea to invest in a plyometric mat.
Be Careful on What You Land
Jumping down from a plyometric platform, such as you would do with a box jump, increases impact up to 7 times more than merely running on pavement. Therefore, landing on a “non-slid” [emphasis placed on non-slid] mat or soft carpeting is imperative.
Consider Your Fitness Level: Lighter Plyo Exercises
Naturally, if you have not practiced plyometrics previously, you will want to follow modified or lighter versions of the plyometric workout.
Some of the “lighter” plyometric exercises include such movements as:
- Jumping rope
- Jumping squats
- Clap push-ups
One of the modified versions of a plyometric exercise that is a “safe” alternative for anyone who is not acclimated to repetitive jumping is jumping jacks. Not only are you increasing your heart rate, you also are working out the upper part of your body – something that normally does not occur when you are practicing lateral box jumps or jumping squats.
Jumping on a trampoline or rebounder can also ease the effect of the impact that occurs when certain plyometric jumps are used.
As with most exercises, form matters in order to avoid injury and to obtain optimal results. It is imperative to perfect form for any plyometric exercise before doing them in a fast paced or explosive fashion.
Eat Healthy And Hydrate
When it comes to safety, you also have to think how you fuel and hydrate your body. Because plyometric exercises are dependent on a great deal of muscle strength, it is important to be well hydrated and that you power your body with the proper vitamins and nutrients. Drinking 8 ounces of water before you begin a plyometric workout is as essential as keeping hydrated after your routine. Even eating vegetables and fruits can increase the amount of liquid you consume.
Increasing the Intensity
Not all plyo exercises impart the same intensity of movement. Therefore, it is important to build up to those exercises that are more difficult. To make sure that the training is safe and progressive, exercises should evolve from low intensity drills to advanced plyo workouts, especially in the case of individuals who have less experience in power and strength training.
Keep Exercise to a Minimum
When you are just beginning a plyo routine, it is also safer and wiser to keep the exercises to a minimum. For instance, sessions can include two lower body plyometric exercises that are interspersed with plyometric drills for the upper body.
Hire A Trainer
The most effective plyometric training is individualized for the particular needs of those doing the workout. A personal trainer can design a plan geared for your specific needs, and goals.
Recovery And Rest
Proper recovery within a single workout and between workouts cannot be overemphasized enough in order to avoid injury. A proper balance is 1 to 3 minutes of rest between sets and 3 to 5 minutes between different exercises in a single workout session.
Recovery between workouts can depend on variables, which are based on individual training requirements, and here again, the expertise of a trained specialist is most valuable.
A Relatively Safe Plyometric Exercise
For the reasons of safety, the proper exercise selection is imperative. While a wide range of plyo drills can support one’s fitness goals, some workouts are applicable for a certain sports activity. To work out safely, choose a lower body plyometric exercise that is considered low-intensity, such as the squat jump.
In order to execute this exercise, you need to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with the trunk flexed slightly forward. Stand so the back remains neutral yet straight. Position the arms so the elbows are flexed 90 degrees. Lower the body so your thighs are parallel with the ground.
Make a fast movement at this point (don’t spend a lot of time squatting) and jump up explosively before landing on your feet. Rest a second or two and repeat the exercise. In order to play it safe, extend your ankles to full plantar flexion (the optimum range). This type of exercise can prepare you for more challenging workouts, such as those represented by box jumps, depth jumps and tuck jumps.