Be Explosive

If you are into fitness or athletics for the performance, even if only partly then you will want to add plyometrics into your workout. Want to be quicker, more agile then keep reading to find out why and how.


Plyometrics is training the body for explosiveness by focusing on the eccentric contraction of the muscle. You many not be aware but there are 3 types of muscle contractions: concentric where the muscle is contracting during the shortening of the muscle, isometric where the muscle contracts without moving and eccentric where the muscle contracts as it’s lengthening. And something else to keep in mind is that we are stronger during the eccentric contraction. If you have ever incorporated negatives into your training regiment (a great way to increase strength and muscle size) you know that you can use a greater amount of weight during the negative, or eccentric contraction motion.

Let’s look at a clear example of a plyometric, the frog jump or let’s call it a squat jump. Here’s another reason to use full range of the body when working out. It’s better to use full range even though you may be tired than doing more reps. You can think of the starting position coming off of the ending of the move. When you complete a squat jump you are landing on your feet. Now, instead of landing and standing, let that momentum lower you into a deep squat. This is where the muscles are now elongating and you are in the eccentric contraction position ready to start. Now without missing a beat, or pausing, jump with all that explosiveness you have inside.

That’s the motion. From the deep squat explode upwards and outwards and when you land, land right down into that low squat. Want to know how to do these properly? Watch some 8 – 9 year old kids who find this fun (fun names like leapfrog help with this) and you’ll see them spring along like no one’s business. Another benefit is by dropping into the squat when you land you’ll be doing your joints a favour by not having them absorb all that energy.

Try to execute each jump squat one after another in a rhythmic motion. Along with building and developing explosiveness, you will also give your cardio a great workout. If you are doing these more for a resistance training benefit than a cardio workout, then take a break as you lower into the squat to catch your breath and get a few more reps in. But, again, start the explosion from the squat, resist the urge to raise yourself up and then explode.


Besides squat jumps where else can plyometrics be incorporated? If you understand the eccentric contraction, the contraction where the muscle lengthens than you can add plyometrics anywhere. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Pushups: Keeping the hips aligned with your ankle bone and your shoulders, lower slowly and controlled, pause for a second and then explode upwards. Add a clap at the top of the motion if you so choose.
  • Calf raises: Use a staircase, a large block of wood or anything solid that is stable and will support your weight as you are on the balls of your feet. Now, while on the balls of your feet, heels up as high as they go lower your heels, all the way down, feeling the calf muscles stretch. Hold it for a second and explode upwards.
  • The speed skater: This exercise I refer to as the speed skater as it reminds me of watching distance speed skating. The force is from a push off to the side from the lead foot. Let’s start with the left leg. Bending the left knee almost like a squat, bring your right foot behind and past the left side of your body. Stay loose and let your arms and hands swing to the left side also. As you bring that right foot behind and over to the left side, let your body lower, elongating the muscles, loading up that spring. Then explode and jump laterally to your right side landing on your right foot, bending the landing leg, and having the left foot come bend and over to the right side. Don’t forget to let the hands and arms naturally swing to the right side. Repeat back and forth, side to side. The motion from side to side should be smooth, allowing the body to lower itself to absorb the energy of landing. This exercise is great to help build speed and quickness moving side to side.
  • Box jumps: As the name implies you’ll need a box to do this. Start with a box approx. the height of your knees from the ground. Standing away from the box lower your body into a deep squat. Explode upwards landing on the box and again, let the body lower to absorb the energy in your muscles. Jump back down behind you and remember to not land hard, let the muscles and the movement of the body absorb the energy. If you are an advanced athlete you might want to use a box that is high as your hips to do this. Regardless of the size the key is to get that eccentric contraction and then explode. To change this up, using a smaller box you can jump side to side over the box landing, absorbing, elongating and jumping back over the box.


The more you understand how the body works the more you can do with it and the more you can mix up your workouts. Working out should be fun, something you look forward to. Try some of these workouts to see if they interest you and maybe you end up just that much faster.

Yours in health,


Winding up the spring


If you are the competitive athletic type, maybe you are a martial artist and are always trying to be quicker or you might be looking for explosiveness when it comes to running, a lot of us are looking for the explosive edge.

Or you might not be that type. Most of us are content with our normal workout routines. We have goals of losing weight, adding muscle mass making our bodies more firm and that’s enough for us. But if you fall into the other percentage you might be looking for that explosive edge.



Plyometrics are doing short bursts of exercise with maximum force. Here is the definition from Wikipedia: “Plyometrics, also known as jump training or plyos, are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-strength).” Basically what makes a Plyometric is a stretching, or lengthening of the muscle followed by an explosive contraction of that muscle. Think of a jump squat, box jump, or burpee. To do this correctly to get a Plyo benefit, squat down to maximize the stretch of the quads and glutes then explode into the upright position. This is the explosive contraction. Makes sense?


Lets look at the word Plyometric: Plyo, meaning more (Greek) and metrics meaning length (also Greek). More length. Just as I explained above, the muscle being worked is first lengthened, kind of preparing it to explode like when you pull in a tree branch and you can feel it stretch, you can feel the tension build up. Then, after a second, the muscle is contracted and that’s the explosion, like when you let go of the branch. This technique has been around for years used by Eastern Bloc and Soviet trainers back in the 70’s and 80’s. Probably one of the reasons these countries were winning track and field and weight lifting competitions.

Plyometrics also use a key principle: A muscle that is contracted in a short amount of time as possible is a stronger contraction thus producing more energy than a slower contraction. Also, when lengthening the muscle before the explosion more energy is stored in the muscle, like pulling back the string on a bow. Think of it as loading the muscle with energy. Then, the brief pause of a second or just under stores the energy and the energy grows as the muscle is held. That brief pause allows for max storage of energy and also usage of energy.


Most people when thinking of Plyometrics think of box jumps or Plyo Jumps. But you can do Plyometrics anytime where you can lengthen a muscle then explode for the contraction.

Here are some examples:

  • Explosive pushups: Lower your self down just till your chin touches the ground. Hold for  a second. Now explode upwards! Your hands should come off of the ground if you really exploded.
  • Explosive tricep dips: Lower yourself so your tricps are well stretch. Hold for that second then explode upwards.
  • Overhead throw: Standing facing a wall, hold a medicine ball above your head with both hands and bring the ball behind your head feeling the stretch. Now explode as you throw the ball towards the wall. This is great for lats and core.
  • Pull Ups: This is a tough one as you need to have strong back muscles to do pull ups. Holding the bar, let you body relax and stretch. Then, contract your back muscles and explode upwards so much your hands come off the bar. Yes, it’s tough.

And the more obvious ones:

  • Frog jumps or box jumps: just like a frog squat down, pause for that moment, and then explode up and forward. Awesome way to work the quads.
  • Alternating lunges: alternate which leg is forward on your lunge pausing briefly and then explode for the switch.
  • Burpees: Of course burpees, a staple in any full body exercise routine. Think of it as a stationary frog jump. Squatting down and when in that squat shoot your feet behind you like you are in a plank, then shoot them back so you are in the squat position then explode up. Many Plyo’s in this exercise.


Add Plyo’s to your exercise schedule. A great way to increase fast twitch muscle fiber and a great way to add speed to your body. You’ll be glad you did as you start to see the benefits.

Yours in health,