My body is being transformed in front of my eyes. I said it. That is correct. What am I doing different? Two words: Small Changes. Small changes in workout routines can make or break your progress and set you up for future success or failure. Sometimes when physical changes are not occurring as quickly as they once had or have weaned off to a bare minimum, a long hard look at the details may be just the answer. You could work out hard doing various forms of cardio, lift weights religiously, eat a diet that is healthy and balanced with healing nutrients. But, when a plateau hits and you are not experiencing the gains in progress that you once did, something needs to be reevaluated and shaken up. Regular small changes of activities will ultimately improve your health and the way your body responds to everyday life.
What small change can you do to shake up your routine, challenge your body and core strength, and add a kick of spice into your ho-hum regular workout routine? Today is the day for small changes…Plyometrics.
What are plyometrics?
Remember when you were a kid and you would freely run and jump and skip? Remember when you would try to jump as high as you could or bound across the yard as far as possible? You were doing plyometric-inspired dynamic movements. It is essentially “jump training.” Plyometrics are exercises that promote improved nervous system functioning and train muscles for fast, powerful movements. They take strength training and connect it with endurance, improved cardio, and speed. Overall, plyometrics assists to improve balance, speed, and agility. This training style is often utilized by athletes to improve their game and help to prevent injury. But, isolating the use of plyometrics to just those desiring an athletic edge would be a shame! This form of training challenges strength from upper body and lower body, cardiovascular health, flexibility, and reflexes. You can target legs, back, core, and upper body – often all together.
Time to move…
This workout is incredibly convenient, ya’all! The cost is free. You can perform the workout indoors or outdoors. There is no equipment required, but you can use cones, hurdles, boxes, or steps to jump off, on, or over. The two programs below focus on plyometrics that target the lower body, core, and trunk (with only minimal upper body). And, it will leave you panting harder than sprinting for the ice cream truck on a hot summer day!
- Light skipping or bounding: 30 seconds
- Lateral bounding: 30 seconds to 1 minute
- Jump up onto step (maybe onto 2nd step, depending on skill level): 30 seconds to 1 minute
- Single leg forward hops: 5 reps each leg
- Butt kicks: 30 seconds to 1 minute
- Frog jumps: 5-10 reps
- Split lunge jumps: 30 seconds to 1 minute
- Box or step depth jump with hop: 5-10 reps
How often should you rock out doing this workout?
Ideally, you do not want to do this everyday. Like any other activity, your ligaments, joints, musculature, and nervous system need to rest. In this case, the volume performed is important to pay attention to. I would suggest performing plyometrics 1-3 times per week to allow for sufficient recovery, depending on your conditioning and tolerance of plyometrics. As a general guideline, pick 3-4 appropriate exercises and perform 3-5 sets of 20-30 second intervals (moving towards 1 minute if you are more advanced). Make sure that you vary the exercises so that you are not doing the same exercise more than once per week. You also want to make sure that you are respecting the intensity hierarchy. What do I mean by this? Make sure that you are performing “low” and “moderate” intensity plyometrics before you perform the “higher” intensity plyometrics. Here are some examples:
- Low intensity- jumping rope, galloping, prancing, butt kicks, light jogging, high knees
- Moderate intensity- squat jumps, broad jumps, box or step jumps, lateral jumps, scissor jumps
- High intensity- depth jumps, multiple squat jumps, double scissors, bounding, multiple single leg hops
Who should be more cautious or not perform plyometrics?
- Heart disease. Check with your physician. Plyometrics may be too aggressive for your heart condition. It may be more beneficial for you to engage in low-intensity activities instead.
- High blood pressure or cholesterol. Check with your physician to see if your health condition is safe for the high-intensity activity.
- Pregnancy. Ligaments become lax during pregnancy and may not be conducive for high intensity plyometrics.
- During menstruation. During menstruation, joints become inflamed and more prone to pain. Ligaments become slightly more lax and do not offer a lot of support during more aggressive jumping, cutting, or lateral movements.
- Arthritis or joint issues. This training puts excessive stress on the joints. The stress is healthy in normal, healthy joints, but if you already have inflamed joints or arthritis issues, then the excessive stress can be more harmful than beneficial. Focus on strengthening the muscles surrounding the joints instead.
- Beginners. If you are new to exercise, start with activities and exercises that are lower intensity and begin with building basic strength. As you progress, you can slowly move into plyometric exercise.
- Nerve-related issues. If you can not feel your feet, legs, back or your level of sensation is compromised, you may be setting yourself up for injury and/or more pain. Do not perform plyometrics if you have neuropathy.
Take action now! Get started on this program today. Schedule at least one plyometric day into your workout (after consulting with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you) and pick one of the two workouts above to perform. Grab a workout buddy to give you support and encouragement. Perform 3-5 rounds as indicated above. Make sure to rehydrate as you bust out this butt-kicking workout! I want you to comment below or email me through my website, Facebook, or Twitter and tell me all about what you did.
Are you currently doing plyometrics? If so, what are you doing and what are you noticing? I want to hear all about it! Live your life with passion and purpose…
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