What Are The Best Plyometric Drills For Fitness Conditioning?

The reason for plyometric drills in short, is to produce the dynamic action behind the rapid pro-stretch or "cocking" phase. This basically "activates" natural recoil properties.

Examples of this phase of plyometrics include taking the arm back into position prior to throwing a baseball or bending the knees prior to jumping.

Thus athletes that rely on explosive strength and speed, such as sprinters and. basketball players, include drills for plyometric conditioning in their training programs.

Plyometric exercises or movements can be broken down into three phases:

  1. Lengthening phase (eccentric contraction)
  2. Amortization phase
  3. Take-off (concentric contraction}

During the lengthening phase of the best plyometric drills, the muscle creates tension like a spring being stretched. This type of contraction, called an eccentric contraction, occurs when performing movements such as jumping down from an object running downhill or lowering a weight.

During an eccentric contraction, tension is built into the muscle as it lengthens. The take-off occurs via concentric contraction of the muscles. During this phase of plyometric drills, the; muscle shortens as it contracts, and actual work (i.e., movement of the body through space) is performed.

The amortization phase of plyometric exercises is the period of time from the beginning of the lengthening phase to the beginning of the take-off phase. This is the most important phase when it comes to plyometric exercises.

During this phase of a plyometric circuit, the muscle must convert the muscular tension generated during the lengthening phase to acceleration in a selected direction during the takeoff phase.

The elastic properties inherent within the muscles and neuronmscular reflexes (the stretch reflex) are responsible for this conversion. Plyometric drills may increase the efficiency of this conversion.

The goal of plyometric workouts is to decrease the amount of time in the amortization phase and thereby increase speed.

"Preparation for Plyometric Drills"

Plyometric workouts should be undertaken only once an adequate strength base has been developed. Most sources define an adequate strength base for lower body plyometric exercises as the ability to squat or leg press 1.5 to 2.0 times your body weight for one maximum repetition.

For upper body plyometric exercises & drills, larger athletes (weight greater than 115 kg or 250 lbs.) should he able to bench press their body weight and athletes weighing less than 115 kg (25(1 lbs) should be able to bench press 1.5 times their body weight.

Plyometric workouts should never be undertaken if you have any leg, hip, arm, or shoulder injury.

"Safety in Plyometric Drills"

Several steps can be taken to ensure that plyometric workouts are safe. These measures include using an appropriate surface, footwear, and equipment, and proper technique.

Surface:

A plyometric cardio circuit or any drills for that matter should not be performed on hard surfaces such us concrete or steel, nor should they be performed on soft surfaces such as sand. The best surface is a grass field, followed by artificial turf or wrestling mats. Wrestling mats should not be too thick (15 cm).

Persons with any type of musculoskeletal injury should not consider plyometric drills.

Plyometric drills should incorporate those types of movements (i.e., linear, vertical, lateral, or a combination) required for extreme fitness performance.

For example, downhill skiing would require diagonal movements, close-quarters competition (i.e. football) would require horizontal, vertical, and diagonal movements.

The overload principal is the basis for any training program whether it's cardiovascular training or the development of muscular strength, endurance, or power.

The three basic variables used in the overload principal include the frequency, volume (or duration), and intensity of training.

By increasing any one or a combination of these variables within a training program, one can continuously and safely overload the system that is to be trained (i.e., cardiovascular, muscular, neuromuscular).

Frequency:

Frequency is the number of workouts per week (or other unit of time). For plyometric exercises & drills, the range is usually from one to three sessions per week, depending on the sport and season.

Plyometric exercises & drillsshould consist of two training sessions per week when demands require such training. Allow 2-3 days for recovery between workouts to avoid overtraining or injury.

Volume or Duration:

The volume for plyometric exercises & drills is defined as the number of foot contacts or landings per session.

  • Beginners: 80-100 landings per session
  • Intermediate: 100-120 landings per session
  • Advanced: 120-140 landings per session

Intensity:

The intensity for plyometric exercises is the level of stress placed on the neuromuscular system, the connective tissue, and the joints, and is determined by the type of plyometric exercises performed.

For example, skipping is a low intensity exercise while in-depth box jumps are of higher intensity.

Remember: plyometric exercises that mimic the activity to be performed during the mission task should be selected.

Some guidelines are provided as follows:

  • Vertical jumps are more stressful than horizontal jumps.
  • One leg landings are more stressful than landings on two feet.
  • The higher off the ground the body, the more forceful the landing and the more stressful the exercise.
  • Adding external weight to the body also increases the stress.

When designing a program with plyometic drills it is best to increase only one variable per session to reduce the likelihood of injury. Generally frequency is held constant while either the volume or the intensity is increased.

In advanced plyometric drills, when high intensity plyometric exercises are performed, volume should decrease since these place significant stress or the muscles, joints, and connective tissue.A 10-Week Plyometric Program:

Weeks 1 & 2 - 4 low intensity exercises - 10 reps; 2 sets

Weeks 3 & 4 - 2 low and 2 medium intensity exercises - 10 reps; 2 sets

Weeks 5 & 6 - 4 medium intensity exercises - 10 reps; 2 - 3 sets

Weeks 7& 8 - 2 medium intensity exercises & 10 reps; 2 - 3 sets 2 high intensity exercises - 10 reps; 2 sets

Weeks 9 & 10 - 4 high intensity exercises - 10 reps; 2 sets

What Plyometric Exercises, Drills & Workouts Do You Find Very Useful?

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