Plyometric Exercises

by Developing Power: pp 121
Kinetic Select August 2019

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This excerpt from Developing Power discusses implementing plyometric training in a program to develop lower body power.

The following is an exclusive excerpt from the book Developing Power, published by Human Kinetics. All text and images provided by Human Kinetics.

Plyometric training emphasizes a rapid transition from eccentric (net muscle lengthening) to concentric (net muscle shortening) movement (termed the SSC). Include this type of training in a program to develop lower body power, particularly for sports that require this rapid transition (e.g., jumping, cutting, running).

In SSC-based movements, the eccentric force, reflex stimuli, and elastic contribution are greater than normal because of the eccentric (stretch) load. In training settings, this can be magnified even further with accentuated eccentric SSC activities such as depth jumps. For example, high-velocity tuck jumps are an overloaded eccentric movement because the athlete rapidly extends the legs downward from a tuck position to jump explosively again. Hence, the rate at which the feet contact the ground is greater than normal, or accentuated.

Plyometric exercises should develop an attribute required for sport, such as power or strength, and should not necessarily mimic a sport movement. However, plyometric exercises should be used to develop the SSC ability that is relevant to a sport-specific movement. For example, elite volleyball players may perform countermovement-style jumps (block jumps, jump sets, and spike jumps) 1,000 to 4,000 times per week simply through practice and matches. Adding a few sets of countermovement jumps (CMJs) will only add to an already large load of the same jump. The strength and conditioning coach must therefore carefully consider the use and purpose of plyometric training and target a specific physical quality (e.g., accentuated eccentrics, ballistic exercises, maximal strength training, recovery and regeneration) based on the athlete’s needs and other training considerations.

Plyometric exercises are extremely effective. However, this does not mean that more is better. On the contrary, low frequency (2-3 sessions per week) and low volume (3-6 sets of 2-5 repetitions) are most appropriate. It is not necessary to perform myriad plyometric exercises. Getting the most out of a program requires mastering the movements of the exercises themselves. For most athletes, two or three plyometric exercises at any one time is sufficient for attaining movement mastery and obtaining considerable benefit.

With Developing Power, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) has created the definitive resource for developing athletic power. With exercises, drills, assessments, analysis, and programming, this book will elevate power and performance in all sports. The book is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as online at the NSCA Store.

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