When motivation slows down you can clear plateaus with plyometrics. I believe a lot of trainers working with the general public avoid plyometrics because they think it’s a training style only meant for athletes. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Explosive movement is applied in all walks of life.

From Grandpa jumping out of his seat to catch a falling grandchild, to the middle-aged woman leaping over a rain puddle. All people should have the ability to produce powerful movement to maintain overall fitness and independence. Not to mention all the other amazing benefits, but we’ll get to those in a moment.

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What is Training with Plyometrics?

“Plyometrics can be thought of as exercises that train the fast muscle fibers and the nerves that activate them, as well as reflexes, and include a variety of hopping, jumping, and bounding movements” (William P. Ebben)

These types of exercises are designed to improve speed, power, and function of the nervous system. In the definition alone one can see these exercises are meant for everyone, not just athletes. All of your clients would benefit from improvement with their power, reflexes and a higher functioning nervous system. 

Exercise Examples

– Box Jumps

– Depth Jumps

– Single Leg hops

– Hop Scotch Ladder

– Tuck Jumps

– Skaters

These are just to name a few. Read Plyometrics Exercise and Programming to learn more about how these fit into your routines.

Are Plyometrics a Cardio Workout?

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Quite simply, no, they are not cardiovascular exercises. This is a common misunderstanding from the general public and from some fitness professionals. It’s understandably confusing considering jumping and bounding exercises significantly elevate heart rate. However, the energy pathways and purpose between cardio and plyo’s are different.

Plyo’s work off of two energy pathways, the Creatine Phosphate system and the Lactic Acid system – both of these being anaerobic. Then you have cardiovascular training which works within the aerobic system.

The main purpose of cardio training is to strengthen the muscles involved with respiration and the heart, while the main purpose of plyo’s is to improve power and speed. There is also a difference in muscle fibers being trained. Plyo’s work by improving strength and efficiency of Type II fibers, while cardio leans towards employing Type I endurance fibers.

Supplementing your client’s cardio routine with plyo’s can be a good idea, but not completely replacing it. There are many health benefits found in true cardio workouts that cannot be attained through plyo workouts.

You don’t have to leave plyos to the athletes, boost your clients next session with some of these previously mentioned methods.

References

1) “Trainer Q&A: What are the benefits of plyometrics?”, Men’s Fitness, https://www.mensfitness.com/training/pro-tips/trainer-qa-what-are-benefits-plyometrics

2) Chimera, Nicole J. et al. “Effects of Plyometric Training on Muscle-Activation Strategies and Performance in Female Athletes.” Journal of Athletic Training 39.1 (2004): 24–31. Print.

3) “Plyometrics: The Best Combo Of Cardio And Strength Training?”, The Huffington Post, March 19, 2013,  https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/plyometrics-fitness-cardio-exercise-strength-training_n_2900911.html

4) “Plyometrics: Using Plyometrics with Other Training”, human-kinetics, http://www.humankinetics.com/news-and-excerpts/news-and-excerpts/using-plyometrics-with-other-training

5) William P. Ebben, PhD, CSCS,*D, “Practical Guidelines for Plyometric Intensity”, NSCA’s Performance Training Journal