This is the first in a series of posts I’m going to be doing about plyometrics. In this series I’ll be covering both- lower body, and upper body plyometrics. We’re going to have an overview of lower body exercises you can do to improve your ability to jump higher, run faster, be more explosive and even tone those bulky legs some of you might have.
So let’s talk about plyometrics and why they’re so important for your vertical jump…
What Is Plyometrics?
The easiest way to define plyometrics would be exercises and workouts that consist of fast, explosive, powerful movements. Plyos are generally being used by athletes who want to improve their sports performance, but today they’re becoming increasingly popular by people who just want to stay in shape and tone up.
A lot of people think plyometrics are just jump training but that’s not true. Although plyometrics (from now on referred to as ‘plyos’ for simplicity) have a high tendency to be used in vertical leap training it’s not their only form of utilization.
Plyos can help you with activities such as jumping higher, running faster, throwing further and harder, and hitting harder. With that kind of variety, it’s important to develop a workout routine that will cater to your needs. Reason being, if you want to throw further or hit harder, that may not be the same needs as someone who wants to jump higher or run faster.
Therefore, your plyometric workout routine will vary depending on what your ultimate goal is, which in our case is increasing the output of our vertical jump.
How To Use Plyometrics To Jump Higher
OK, so we understand what plyometrics are and how great they can be for a variety of sports fields, but what about the vertical leap field? If we want to focus on jumping higher, shouldn’t we just stick to lower body plyometrics?
Well, if you think about jumping for a second, ask yourself this- are you using your arms when you jump? Do you have arm block? When you’re sprinting, are you throwing back your elbows? If the answer is yes (it should be, by the way) then you can see you’re not just activating your lower body, you’re also using your upper body by engaging your arms and your core.
When people ask me if they should focus their plyometric workout on a specific area I always advise them that depending on what muscle group they use most, they need to focus on that area, thus sprinters and jumpers, who mostly use their lower body (even though they use their arms), will stick to doing primarily lower body plyometrics.
However that doesn’t mean you should not limit yourself from to only lower body plyometrics. As I stated earlier, your upper body still takes part in the jump process, and you’re also using your arms etc…
These are important factors when speaking about plyometrics, they determine how successful your jump training will be, especially when your vertical jump starts to peak and you’re trying to figure out new ways to increase it more.
This is a classic example of how the key to improving your vertical might hide in the smaller things, such as your arm movement that’s lacking, and if you fixed it, you’d be able to send more power to your vertical jump.
When the ultimate goal is jumping higher, plyometrics are one of the best ways to do it, they’re amazingly effective in increasing your jump and they should be fitted into every vertical leap training routine you’ll do.
One program that combines plyometrics in a very sophisticated way would be Jacob Hiller’s program. The program does so by offering workout regimens that are specifically designated for vertical jumpers and high jumping.
Here’s coach Hiller himself explaining in his language the importance of plyos for vertical leap athletes:
1) Plyometrics – definition, history and development – Official Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plyometrics
2) WebMD – excellent article by Kara Mayer Robinson on plyometrics, what it is and how to do it – http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/what-is-plyometrics