Strength, speed and agility are integral components of fitness found in varying degrees in all sports that require movement. People often talk about that unique athlete or person being more powerful than anyone else, but what exactly is power and how do we train it? Well it is basically the combination of speed and strength and for many years, coaches and athletes have sought to improve power to improve physical performance.
A great way to train this is by doing plyometric exercises. Plyometric training enhances explosiveness and power through powerful muscular contractions that invoke a stretch reflex in the muscle so that when the muscle contracts it does so with greater force. A plyometric workout will include jumping, bounding and hopping exercises and there are literally hundreds of drills that can be performed by an athlete or individual. Plyometric workouts are not only a great way to improve explosive reaction for athletes in sports like tennis, boxing, hockey, cricket, volleyball, basketball, soccer, rugby and many other sports but this type of training is used more and more by everyday people wanting to improve their fitness. Fitness programs like P90x incorporate a lot of plyometrics into their workouts and results and feedback from this type of training have shown benefits such as increased muscle performance, an improvement in balance and posture, toned muscles and better flexibility which prevents injury. However , it is important to understand that plyometric training is not for everyone. The plyometrics component of a training program needs to be carefully planned depending on the persons strength and goals. There is no point trying to do squat jumps when you struggle to do a basic front or back squat with good form. This will just get you injured.
As with any workout a good warm up is essential prior to doing a plyometrics session and always make sure you leave enough time for a good cool down as this is just as important. It is also important that you understand what your level of strength is before you start and realise what you can and can’t do. Make sure you do not perform too many repetitions, the quality of training is most important with more emphasis placed on speed rather than endurance. Recovery between sets is important. Give yourself or your athlete at least one minute of rest between each set so the neuromuscular system can recover.