Winding up the spring

Explosiveness

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

What

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?

Why

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.

Options

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.

Finally

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,

Darryl