Plyometrics consists of moving less weight (sometimes only body weight) very quickly. They are usually jumping movements that train your tendons’ response to optimize elasticity. In order to practice this time on the ground needs to be brief. Plyometrics should be done in one fluid movement, exploding from the ground.
The goal of these exercises is the total number of quality repetitions performed at high intensity, you should rest as needed. If you are new to plyometrics take a 15-20 second rest after each exercise. In his book Running Rewired, Jay Dicharry says that if you notice you are double bouncing on your landing, you’ve lost your spring; double bouncing works the muscle not the tendon response. If you notice you are doing this take a longer break so that each repetition is a quality rep.
Keep in mind that bigger is not always better. I see a lot of people using the tallest box they can find for box jumps. While it looks cool to be able to jump on a box that is chest height, it won’t necessarily help you run faster. Using a taller box requires you to spend more time on the ground because you have to recruit more muscle fibers to fire, to get you up to the box. When you do this you aren’t training the spring in your run, it turns into nonspecific strength work. Instead of using the tallest box, use one that is shin or knee height and allows you to get off the ground as quickly as possible. When you are able to jump up to these boxes without compromising the speed of your jump can you move up to a taller box. According to Jay, even at this point there may not be more benefit from moving to a taller box. He says instead of using a taller box focus on getting off the ground faster with each jump.
If you don’t have access to a box or the means to purchase your own, you can use park benches, taller curbs, or other sturdy objects for box jumps.
Tips For Optimal Plyometric Performance:
Use a mirror to check your landing form, look for:
Do not let your knees cave in towards each other.
Keep your hips back as you land, if your knees are over your toes slightly, your hips are probably where they need to be.
Land with your weight evenly distributed throughout your whole foot - don’t land on your heels or forefoot.
Plyometric Exercises To Try:
Box Jumps - 20 reps
Lateral Jumps - 3 sets of 30 seconds each side
Single Leg Box Jumps - 20 reps each side
Wall Ball - 25 reps 10-20# ball
Med Ball Rotational Throws - 10 each side
Give them a try and let us know how they go for you!