Plyometric training is the enhancement of explosive power. Explosive power is the ability of the muscle to produce maximum strength in the shortest period of time. Since there is seldom time to produce this kind of maximum strength in most sporting events (apart from perhaps powerlifting), it’s obviously a benefit to be able to do so – and particularly for bodybuilders.
Plyometric training combines speed, strength, and change of direction to allow the muscle to react quickly and with maximum power. Most weightlifting is fairly static and isolative. Imagine taking that power and effort, and pushing it out into an enhanced, total body range of motion to harness more power! This is how to picture plyometrics.
Plyometrics are becoming more and more popular as a means to enhance an already strenuous workout in the gym with resistance exercise. Go into any Gold’s or World or Powerhouse Gym and see at least 2 or 3 trainers putting their clients through the paces with balance disks, steps, stairs, and medicine balls, as a supplement to the weights.
Whether you’re a bodybuilder who needs more detail or you also compete in a sport such as boxing or soccer, plyometrics can create strength, agility and elasticity through the promotion and practice of balance. Working with weights in a static manner can only accomplish so much. Working with dynamic exercises, movements and equipment that can expand a range of motion in many different directions, will greatly enhance the scope and potential of any physique.
Plyometrics is also a means by which any bodybuilder can unleash explosive power. This is of particular benefit during an off season phase where squats and other powerlifting basics are what is driving a mass cycle.
A lot of plyometrics incorporate balance oriented movements or exercises that work the proprioceptors within the length of the body. Proprioception is what keeps our bodies balanced. Throw the body off balance and it will find its perfect balance. That’s because proprioceptors within the spinal column and back of the legs, are constantly seeking balance as you walk, run, lift, or just stand.
Here’s a great beginning Plyometric workout, focusing on the legs, that you can combine with your regular resistance workout. You’ll need a partner for some of it:
Squats (without weight) in squat cage holding side bars 1 x 75
Squat-Leaps 1 x 15
Instructions: Keeping a good squat position, get down to a parallel-to-the-floor squat frame and keep legs tight during the full 75 reps. Believe us when we tell you, that you will NOT need weight here. We doubt you could make it to 100 – which is the number you should target prior to the squat-leaps. Immediately following this leg wobbling set of squats, do as many squat-leaps up to 15 as possible.
Hamstring curls or Stiff-legged deadlifts 1 x 50
Lateral Box Leaps 1 x 20
Stair run 2 x 30 steps sprint
Instructions: If doing hamstring curls, use enough weight to keep a light resistance on the legs. If stiff-legged, use just a light pre-loaded bar of 15-20 pounds for 50 reps. Keep tight form throughout sets of either of these.
Immediately run stairs up 30 steps, and down (many gyms have stairs) – if not use an aerobic step apparatus and go up down up down up down up down, alternating feet as quickly as possible. Then immediately go to box leaps. Make sure your first try is using an 8-12 inch step that is about as wide as it is tall. With both feet together, leap from side to side to side to side for 20 reps.
You may think to yourself… I’m not sure this will increase my mass. Well, just wait! It not only can increase mass, but it can reshape the mass you have and make you more functional, explosive and dynamic in the gym. When you become quicker and more explosive, you’ll be able to turn the heat up on your workouts and your intensity will bring you enhanced development.