Surya Iacono on plyometric exercise and why should you be doing it

Hopping, skipping and jumping may sound like childhood games, but they also form plyometric training. Plyometrics is used by elite athletes for hardcore training and is very effective. 

Basic bodyweight moves are nothing new and have been used by top level athletes for decades. The recent increase in popularity of CrossFit has brought back the old favourite moves and introduced them to a new generation. 

Why is plyometric training effective? 

Plyometrics is ideal training for anyone as it’s very simple and relies on bodyweight for resistance. Therefore, it can be done anywhere at any time. It’s progressive and encompasses a huge variety of moves to try. 

As long as you are aware of your surroundings and understand the limits of your body, jumping is safe. If you’ve never tried plyometric exercising before, or you’re not used to moves that take your feet from the floor, start slowly and build up. 

If your body isn’t conditioned and used to impact exercises, then injury could hamper your regime. If you begin plyometric training too aggressively, then you may well find injuries creeping in. Beginners should start on a soft and very flat surface. You could start in your garden if it’s grassy and flat or use a mat on the floor. For several weeks you should follow a programme of training that builds up your skills. When you are more confident, you can move on to more aggressive plyometric drills. If you’re brand new to this form of training, it’s a good idea to work with a trainer. 

Skipping with a rope

A skipping rope (or jump rope) is a popular form of plyometric exercise. Using a skipping rope gives you an effective and easy way to condition your muscles. It also helps you to get used to the kind of co-ordination you need for this kind of training. 

Skipping ropes are cheap to buy, but if you don’t have one you can simply jump an inch or so. As long as you are getting off the floor and learning how to jump, then you’re training. This very simple move will help you to prepare for more intensive training later on. 

Jump with a rope for between 30 and 60 seconds at a time. Then take a short rest and repeat between three and five times. This gives you an excellent grounding in plyometrics. 

Squat jumps

You need more conditioning to begin squat jumps, as well as a decent warm up. This will help prevent injury. Skip using a rope for a minute as the warm up. When you’re ready, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Relax your knees so they’re slightly bent. Bend your elbows at a right angle with your hands in front of your body. Do a full squat jump by sinking down and rebounding up in the air. Keep your knees soft to lessen the impact. 

Vary the intensity by jumping higher or repeating the jump more quickly. Jump for a set number or see how many you can do in a set time. 

Box jumps

Start with a low box and build up as you get fitter. You can either step off or jump off the box, depending on your fitness level. 

Lateral hopping 

This is high-level plyometric training. As you are jumping on one foot only, you are doubling the effort. This also increases the impact so you must do it on a safe surface only. Never carry out this exercise on concrete, for example, as you have to land safely. 

Again, you can up the ante by varying the height or direction of the jump. This sounds like a simple exercise, but it’s incredibly demanding on your body. Make sure you remember to work both legs!

About Surya Iacono

Surya Iacono is a fitness and wellness expert and blogger based in London, UK. Surya's fitness blogs are aimed at keen gym-goers and exercise fans already well into their journey and looking for tips, tricks and ideas to take it to the next level.