Progress your Plyometrics!

April 13, 2009

Alright, I’m back at it now that I’m back at school to finish up exams and my 3 wisdom teeth are out of my life for good! Also with some time recovering from the surgery, I’ve been able to get back some energy which I really needed after writing 3 papers last week.

Since December one of the things I changed about by own training was adding in plyometrics. Now these were difficult to implement at my university gym, so I will talk about a more idea situation than what I did.

Basically we have 2 ways to make plyometrics more intense:
1. increase the magnitude of the effect of gravity
2. increase the demand on the Stretch-shortening cycle.

The first refers really to the hieght of anything you are jumping onto, off of, or over — this can be a box or hurdle usually. Anyways, when you jump onto a box there is a reduced effect of gravity since you are landing higher than your take off point. Think of when you jump, you go up and you come back down. Jumping up to a box obviously means your coming down part is shorter than the going up part, hence less of an effect of gravity on the landing. When you jump over an object your takeoff and landing will be at the same level and if you jump off an object there is a higher effect of gravity since your landing is lower than where you takeoff. Basically we manage this aspect of exercise intensity depending on safety and strength (which go hand in hand with eachother).

The second point is more sciency. The Stretch-shortening cycle is basically a physiological mechanism that allows your muscles to briefly store energy from a preceding movement to make the proceeding movement happen with less muscular demand. Using it is driven by the nervous system, so yes, we can train it. Oftentimes though athletes need to learn how to use this mechanism to be a benefit to their performance so we would start by doing consecutive jumps with a little bounce between that way theres not an excessive force absorbing demand on the muscles. Because the SSC happens very quickly, we just need to make individuals able to use it effectively — we can’t just throw them into the fire with the most advanced drill and hope their bodies will catch up before an injury happens.
Back to the progression — it will look like the above stage moving to consecutive jumps at a lower height which increases (think – jumping off a higher and higher box over time, or over higher hurdles — these make it more difficult to use the SSC efficiently).

Anyways I’m no Bill Nye the Science Guy (who remembers that great man??!!), but I hope you enjoyed this semi-science lesson on plyometrics. The reason I covered progressions is because most people generally can find where to start, but then results stop because they don’t progress difficulty or change things up.

Anyways its good to be back. With work starting up again in a couple weeks after school is finished, it should be nearing an exciting time for the blog since I’ll have much more hands-on stuff to write about!



2 Responses to “Progress your Plyometrics!”

  1. I’m glad you posted this! I’ve got a few weeks to go yet, then I’ll be adding these in. I’ve still been searching for boxes but I might just have to build my own. No worries, I’m handy with a saw. I noticed when jump roping it seems much easier if there is a small bounce between the jumps. I’m betting that goes with the sciency part of your post.

    Congrats on getting your undergrad degree!!! That’s awesome :).

  2. Chris Brown Says:

    Ya plyo boxes can be expensive.

    That does go with the sciency part of the post. I thought I put it in…maybe I should proofread my posts…
    Anyways you’re right on with the small bounce between jumps…then it will be easier to jump rope without the small bounce since you eased your way into the more advanced progression — you only gave your body a stress it could handle and adapt too. Isn’t it kind of weird to talk about jumping rope as being advanced??

    Thanks Michelle, it feels great to be done!

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