Spring into Action

Posted on April 5, 2009 by


Courtney Townley

The road to fitness really never ends. We peak one mountain to find ourselves standing at the base of another.  As long as we are up for the challenge, there is always an aspect of our fitness that could use more attention.  The progressive nature of the Genesis Transformation program is demonstrative of how our bodies are best conditioned.  The process begins with learning how to properly align your body, you then progress to moving your bodyweight across the floor maintaining that alignment.  Once you are conditioned enough to support your own bodyweight in a myriad of positions, in come the dumbbells and other strength training props (bands, stability balls, etc).  Cardio is then added in slower steady states and eventually you work your way up to high interval trainings.   Can you see the progression?  For those of you who have made your way deep into rotation or maintenance, you are probably looking for the “next step”, or the bottom of the next mountain, in this on-going progression.  Welcome to the world of plyometric training.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association defines plyometric exercise as “those activities that enable a muscle to reach maximal force in the shortest possible time”.  Sounds dangerous, eh?  And it can be for someone who is in poor condition or someone with a pre-existing orthopedic concern.  For someone who has spent months and years conditioning their body, however, plyometric work can add a whole new “strength-building” dimension to a fitness program.
Think “jump training”.  That is basically what plyometric work is.  Those of you who run several times a week or jump rope….you are already doing plyometric work.  Any activity that loads the muscle and then quickly unloads the muscle is considered to be plyometric in nature.   Plyometric training is to strength training what interval training is to cardiovascular training.   Anyone who has incorporated interval training into their cardio work knows that the results are more strength and more endurance during their steady state work.  The same holds true for incorporating plyometric work into a strength training program.  The results equal more power, more strength and more endurance in your strength training sessions.
To get you started, below are a few basic plyometric exercises to sprinkle into your current program:

Jumps in Place – Standing vertical, feet hip width apart.  Jump straight up, propelling yourself from the ankle joint.  Land lightly and repeat the movement right away. Imagine jump roping without the rope.
Jump Squats – Standing vertical, feet hip width apart.  Bend your knees into a squat position and propel yourself straight up until your feet leave the ground.  Land with parallel feet, back in your squat position and jump again.
Chest Pass – Stand vertical, feet hip width apart, facing your partner.  One person holds a medicine ball to chest with elbows reaching out, and passes the ball to the second person pushing the ball away from the chest.  The partner immediately catches the ball and tosses it back in the same fashion.
A few tips to keep you safe, should you choose to incorporate this type of training:
-When in doubt, seek out a certified fitness professional.  Plyometric training is very advanced and should be done for the first time in the presence of a professional.
-Make sure you warm-up well before engaging in any type of plyometric training.
-Do not perform plyometric movements every day.
-Make sure you are training on a surface that is conducive to plyometric work (rubber floor vs. concrete).
-Like everything you have done to this point, think progression.  Less is always more when just getting started.

Posted in: Food For Thought