There are many ways to improve your athleticism. Running long distances improves your endurance and aerobic capacity. Stretching improves flexibility and mobility.Weightlifting can improve your strength and power. But there’s a place for plyometric exercises as well.
Plyometric training can improve you overall explosiveness and power using just your body weight. They have value in increasing your speed and acceleration as well. They’re also fantastic for workouts while you’re traveling because they require no equipment and use limited space. Below are a few basic plyometric exercises that can boost your athleticism with regular application and can help take your training to a new level.
Jump squats: Adding a jumping burst to rise out of a squat allows the body to simulate moving a heavy load of weight. It utilizes a burst of power from the quads, glutes and calves to propel your body vertically. Adding jump squats to your routine regularly will increase leg strength and your vertical jump.
Tip: Focus on driving the hips and allowing your hands to pass by your hips as you rise up to maximize your kinetic energy and get the largest vertical burst possible.
Speed skaters: One of the most well-rounded plyometric skills, speed skaters can be phenomenal for developing strength in the muscles around your hips, knees and ankles while also engaging your core, both abs and lower back, and developing your lateral quickness. This move requires you to drive your weight laterally, bounding from one foot to the other, catching yourself on one foot, changing direction and bounding back.
Tip: Adding a powerful swing of both arms and a rotation of your core allows you to generate power in the direction you’re bounding.
Jump tucks: A useful move both for developing explosiveness but also ramping up your heart rate is the jump tuck. The move takes the squat out of the equation and merely requires you to jump up, driving your knees high in front of you and then landing softly, before repeating. The spring is coming mostly off your toes, using your calves for burst, but the knee tuck also engage your abs.
Tip: Minimize your time on the ground, opting to jump right into the next one rather than resetting each time you land.
Plyometric Push Ups: If you’re training without weights, plyometric push ups are a great way to develop strength and power in the chest and triceps. All it takes is a twist on a traditional push up. Start with your hands flat on the floor beneath your chest, squeezing your abs and glutes and lower yourself to within an inch of the floor. Drive up through your hands with enough burst to propel yourself completely off the ground, then catch yourself softly on your hands and return back down.
Tip: Drive up with one fluid motion instead of breaking the motion into two parts.
Broad jumps: An explosive forward movement based exercise, the broad jump can be used to develop power and burst in the quads, glutes and hamstrings. When completing the move, don’t just jump, but rather start by hinging your hips back with a slight bend in the knees, then propel your entire body forward by driving your hips, swinging your arms forward and driving the ground away from you. The goal is to cover as much distance as possible.
Tip: The move can be done either by limiting time on the ground and stringing together many jumps quickly or by landing, completely resetting and then exploding forward for the next jump. Each has its own value, the first for providing an additional test to your cardiovascular and muscular endurance, the second for being superior for pure explosiveness training.
Adding plyometric training to your routines, either at the end of workouts or on plyometric specific days provides your body with an entirely new training modality designed to continue your forward progress. They will add a new element of fun to your routine. And most importantly, you’ll get faster, quicker and improve your leaping and direction changing ability dramatically, all of which make you a better athlete.