Plyometrics are exercises which are intended to increase muscular power. A number of athletes such as boxers integrate plyometrics into their training regimen. When practiced safely, the exercises allow athletes to bring considerable power into their sports activities, which can be a major advantage. Because plyometrics are high intensity exercises, only athletes who are in good condition should attempt them, preferably under the guidance of a trainer or instructor. Athletes should also be attuned to their bodies, checking for signs of injury and adjusting their routine as needed.
In order to move a muscle, a contraction is required. Athletes have noticed that this contraction is much more powerful immediately after a muscle has been stretched, in what is termed an “eccentric contraction.” Plyometrics trains athletes to stretch their muscles and then quickly contract them to create an explosive burst of power which exceeds the raw strength of an athlete. It is the principle behind incredibly fast baseball pitches, hard punches, and high jumping, among many other athletic feats.
Since plyometrics is all about cultivating bursts of power, the exercises take the form of explosive movements such as jumps, hops, and bounds. The main goal of training in plyometrics is to shorten the time between stretching and contracting a muscle, converting strength into speed for more power. In this sense, the musculotendinous system of the body is re-trained, along with the neurological system, which normally limits force in the interest of protecting the body from injury.
It is very important to properly warm up before attempting plyometric exercises, because the movements can damage muscles which have not been properly stretched and conditioned. In addition, the athlete must be in good shape, and of an optimal age and body weight. Since the exercises are easy to perform inappropriately, athletes should be carefully instructed and monitored while they learn plyometrics. In addition, properly padded shoes should be used in a padded and reinforced workout space.
When done properly, plyometrics will increase agility and coordination as well as power. It is used as a supplement to other forms of physical conditioning, and it is crucial to cool down properly after the exercises as well. Athletes who are interested in exploring plyometrics should talk to their coaches, who will be able to assess whether or not the athlete is ready for the activity. In addition, a coach can recommend specific exercises or a plyometric trainer who can establish a safe and productive routine.