Plyometric training is a form of high-intensity exercise used to achieve a balance of speed, strength, weight, and tone.
Also known as jump training, plyometrics, or simply plyos, the technique was originally developed in the 1970s as a form of training for the Soviet Olympic team. While at first it was used mainly by the likes of gymnasts and martial artists, plyometrics has grown in popularity among elite athletes of all sports backgrounds.
By using a variety of different jumping exercises, an athlete can work out several different muscle groups at once, ensuring a balanced, full-body workout. This makes plyometrics particularly useful for building strength, and for toning your body as a whole, as it is not only useful at exercising muscles, but also a very effective form of cardio.
Due to the fact that plyometrics involves so many rapid movements and jumps, it is quite a high-impact form of exercise. High-impact exercises have repeatedly been shown to improve bone-mass density, which begins to taper off after peaking at around age 25-30. By placing the bones under the right amount of stress, plyometrics encourages them to break down just enough to regrow healthier and stronger than before.
The primary focus of plyometric training, however, is to expand and contract muscles as quickly as possible, with the main benefits of doing this being greater flexibility and the ability to move the muscles more rapidly. Obviously, regularly stretching any muscle will improve how far and how rapidly it can stretch, but this takes things a step further. Practicing plyometrics will also increase the rate at which your motor neurons will fire, as well as opening up the neural pathways, both of which mean the signals that control your levels of strength and power can be activated faster and more effectively.
Finally, a major benefit of adopting an exercise routine as intense and well-rounded as plyometrics is that it increases your endurance. The combined elements of cardio and strength-training, as well as the effects the effects the training has on a neuromuscular level, all mean that your body will expend less energy to perform the same movements over time. The catch is that plyometrics really are an intense form of exercise when done properly, so while there are a lot of benefits, don’t make the mistake of viewing this as an easy all-in-one solution. Plyometrics are best reserved for those who take their fitness seriously and can commit to the programme. If you can do that, then the benefits are all yours.