The History Of Plyometric Training
Plyometrics or jump training was popularized by Russian Sports Scientist Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky in the 1950s. These exercises were designed to increase muscle power & explosiveness, making them an important component in athletic development.
Verkhoshansky primarily trained track athletes using depth jumps from a box or elevated surface down to the floor followed by an explosive jump up.
Verkhoshansky’s new form of training initially termed “shock training” caught on quick & changed the game forever!
What Is Plyometric Training & What Is The Science Behind It?
Plyometric training involves the usage of jumps, hops, skips, bounds, & sprints governed by the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC). The SSC is comprised of a rapid eccentric muscle action, a transitional period (amortization), & a quick & powerful concentric muscle action. The concentric muscle action is triggered by the stretch reflex that shortens the muscle when it becomes rapidly stretched. Simply put, plyometric exercises are speed & power based exercises in which the muscles exert maximum amount of force in a minimum amount of time. Plyometric activities can be separated into two categories depending upon the duration of the ground contact time: 1) Fast Plyometric movements <250ms & 2) Slow Plyometric movements >251ms.
Benefits Of Plyometrics
Athletic Performance - Plyometrics appear to be very effective at improving athleticism due to their value for all things related to athletic performance - like sprinting, jumping, cutting, etc. Plyometrics bridge the gap between strength in the weight room & athletic performance on the field or court.
Body Composition - Fast concentric muscle actions effectively target type II “Fast Twitch” muscle fibers. These muscle fibers have the most potential for muscle growth, which means that performing plyometrics prior to strength training can increase muscle recruitment & facilitate more muscle growth over time, thus altering your body composition & even improving your overall strength.
Joint & Connective Tissue Health - The general perception about plyometrics & jumping is that it degrades the health of your joints & connective tissues over time. The truth is that when performed & progressed appropriately, plyometrics are excellent for building resiliency, strengthening the joints & connective tissue, & improving tendon health.
Aging & Longevity - Aging is associated with a fast (type II) to slow (type 1) fiber type shift! In fact, studies show that humans lose power 1.7x faster than we lose strength as we age - which makes developing & or maintaining power essential - considering its correlation with longevity metrics like quality of life, fall risk, injury prevention, & even hormonal health.
General Guidelines For Plyometric Training
Not all plyometrics are equal, nor should everyone follow the same plyometric prescription. When it comes to plyometric training, there are many factors to consider in order to maximize the safety & effectiveness of the training for your clients. With that being said, here are some guidelines I like to follow.
Plyometrics are useful for both youth & adult populations - not just athletes! When performed correctly, plyometrics build power, which is correlated to increase strength, improved body composition, & longevity.
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