Plyometrics are explosive movements that use strength and speed to develop power. Imagine Coby Bryant or Michael Jordan jumping for a dunk, plyometric training, at least in part, makes that possible.
Since they are high-impact and explosive, they have their own “brand”, so to speak, of training safety mandates. After all, you are hitting your upper and lower body. Unlike other exercises, such as isometrics, where you are, by definition, standing, you are jumping hard and landing, in most cases, on a solid surface. So to alleviate any stress in this regard, it is a good idea to invest in a plyometric mat.
Be careful what you land on
Jumping off a plyometric platform, as you would a box jump, increases the impact up to 7 times more than simply running on the pavement. Therefore, landing on a “skid” [emphasis placed on non-slid] a soft mat or rug is imperative.
Consider Your Fitness Level – Lighter Plyogenic Exercises
Naturally, if you haven’t practiced plyometrics before, you’ll want to pursue modified or lighter versions of plyometric training.
Some of the “lighter” plyometric exercises include movements such as:
Jump the rope
One of the modified versions of a plyometric exercise that is a “safe” alternative for anyone not used to repetitive jumps is the jumping jacks. Not only are you increasing your heart rate, but you are also exercising your upper body, something that doesn’t normally happen when you do side box jumps or jump squats.
Jumping on a trampoline or rebounder can also alleviate the impact effect that occurs when using certain plyometric jumps.
As with most exercises, form matters to avoid injury and obtain optimal results. It is imperative to perfect the form for any plyometric exercise before performing them quickly or explosively.
Eat healthy and hydrate
When it comes to safety, you also need to think about how you feed and hydrate your body. Because plyometrics are highly dependent on muscle strength, it is important to stay well hydrated and fuel your body with the proper vitamins and nutrients. Drinking 8 ounces of water before starting a plyometric workout is as essential as staying hydrated after your routine. Even eating vegetables and fruits can increase the amount of fluid you consume.
Not all plyometric exercises impart the same intensity of movement. Therefore, it is important to develop those exercises that are more difficult. To ensure that training is safe and progressive, exercises should evolve from low intensity exercises to advanced plyometric training, especially for people who have less experience in strength and power training.
Keep exercise to a minimum
When you’re just starting a pli routine, it’s also safer and more prudent to keep exercises to a minimum. For example, sessions may include two lower-body plyometrics that are interspersed with upper-body plyometrics.
Hire a coach
The most effective plyometric training is individualized for the particular needs of the trainer. A personal trainer can design a plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.
Recovery and rest
Proper recovery within a single workout and between workouts cannot be emphasized enough to avoid injury. A proper balance is 1 to 3 minutes of rest between sets and 3 to 5 minutes between different exercises in a single training session.
Recovery between workouts can depend on variables, which are based on individual training requirements and, again, the experience of a trained specialist is more valuable.
A relatively safe plyometric exercise
For safety reasons, the proper selection of exercises is imperative. While a wide range of plyometrics can support one’s fitness goals, some workouts are applicable for a certain sport activity. To exercise safely, choose a lower body plyometric exercise that is considered low intensity, such as the jump squat.
To perform this exercise, you must stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your trunk slightly bent forward. Stand so that your back remains neutral but straight. Position your arms so that your elbows are bent 90 degrees. Lower your body so that your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Make a quick move at this point (don’t spend a lot of time squatting) and jump explosively before landing on your feet. Rest for a second or two and repeat the exercise. To play it safe, extend your ankles to full plantar flexion (the optimal range). This type of exercise can prepare you for more challenging workouts, such as those represented by box jumps, depth jumps, and tuck jumps.