Plyometric training, or “jump training” as it has been known, is the name of a high intensity training method that has increased in popularity over the years due to its proven ability to increase not just speed and endurance but also the amount of fat that is burnt during exercise.
The basic principle of plyometric training was discovered by scientist Yuri Verkhoshansky and adapted by sports performance trainer Michael Yessis in order to make it more mainstream. Originally developed for competitive athletes participating in events such as sprints and the long jump, plyometric training is made up of a series of rapid, high intensity movements that will get your heart racing and provide you with an effective and challenging workout that will enhance your speed and agility.
The term plyometric describes any form of exercise that requires the muscles to use an explosive movement which results in a jump. The rapid speed and force of the jump shocks the muscles that are being used and, when performed repeatedly, the exercise becomes particularly effective. Plyometric training has a proven ability to increase fat loss and improve overall performance and, taking this into consideration, it is no wonder that so many people are choosing to incorporate it into their training routines.
Plyometric training is so effective when it comes to fat burning because not only does its rapid movement act as cardio and raise your heart rate but the jumping element of the exercise doubles up as a form of strength training for the muscles involved because of the way that they are forced to quickly expand and contract.
When your feet make contact with the ground after a jump your muscles are stretched slightly in what is called an eccentric contraction. Despite this stretch being small, it works your body harder and results in a stronger concentric contraction the next time that you jump. If these explosive movements are performed repeatedly for a period of time then not only will they significantly increase your fitness levels but the contractions in your muscles will be greater than those experienced during other strength training exercises.
Plyometric exercises are incredibly versatile and most of them can be performed anytime, anywhere and require little or no equipment, meaning that you do not need to fork out for a gym membership in order to benefit from this style of training. Plyometric training is ideal for those with busy lives who struggle to find time to train as just 20 minutes three or four times a week is enough to increase fitness levels and burn fat. Alternatively, a couple of plyometric exercises could be added into existing strength training programmes or used in place of more conventional cardio methods in order to spice up a boring exercise routine.
Popular examples of plyometric exercises that can easily be added into training routines include high knees, squat jumps, jumping lunges and, of course, the infamous burpee. Plyometric exercises are versatile in the sense that they can be modified to make them either more or less challenging in order to ensure they are equally as suitable for advanced athletes as they are for those individuals just starting out on their fitness journey. Whether you decide to throw a couple of burpees into your training programme after you finish each set of exercises at the gym for or perform a high intensity interval training circuit made up of entirely of plyometric exercises in the comfort of your living room, the benefits of plyometric exercises are available to everyone willing to work for them.
In addition to providing a high intensity cardiovascular workout, the majority of plyometric exercises will specifically target the muscles in your legs and glutes. As the lower body contains the largest muscle groups, focusing on this area when training is the quickest way to get into shape. By turning fat burning compound movements such as squats and lunges into explosive movements by incorporating a jump you will stimulate those fast-twitch muscle fibres and increase your heart rate, resulting in far more calories being burnt.
Whether you are overweight and just starting out on your fitness journey or are a competitive athlete looking to strip those last few pounds of fat in order to get shredded, plyometric training is a quick and effective way to increase your cardiovascular activity whilst helping to support and maintain muscle. Including these explosive jumping movements into your training program will enhance your overall training performance and body composition in a matter of weeks and, if performed consistently, will result in a lean and shredded look.
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