Fitness enthusiasts adopt a wide range of physical activities. Many of them rely on plyometric exercises to build up strength. These exercises get defined by explosive body movements. They include skipping, jumping rope, lunges, and clap push-ups. The professional routines also include hopping, jump squats, split lunges, and box jumps.
Why people prefer plyometric exercises?
These muscular efforts produce a wide range of benefits. They boost stamina and improve the rate of body metabolism. You will be able to burn calories and lose excess weight. These exercises also ensure flexible muscles and a healthy heart. They are an excellent alternative to weights training.
Injury risks during plyometric exercises
Even the best plyometric mechanics are not devoid of risk. You have to condition the muscles first or pay a heavy price. The injuries resulting from these routines are meniscal tears and ankle sprains. You can also develop traumatic injuries with damage to the knee cartilages.
But you can always minimize the chances of muscle overuse. Make sure you strengthen and stabilize the muscles. Also, select the best routines and avoid serious injuries to your hands and legs. Build strength gradually and be patient. Follow these guidelines for a healthy and muscular physique.
Basic requisites for plyometric exercises
Plyometric movements are very inspiring and motivational. But it would help if you never got carried away by them. Avoid training in isolation at all costs, or you will be in for a surprise. Make it a part of a complete training program. This regimen should also include strength training exercises.
You require some basic strength to be able to squat properly. Do not focus too much on the duration of various squats. Focus on building up a single leg’s strength and functionality and never over-stress the importance of maximum squat stress. First, develop safe and comfortable landing mechanics. Ensure you have enough strength to cave the knees and not rush ahead, but progress gradually for better outcomes.
Use of dampeners
Jump squats and impactful landings are a part of plyometric exercises. However, the incidence of injury grows if the training is intensive. Athletes, in particular, push themselves to achieve a time-bound result. Consequently, they are more susceptible to developing more serious injuries.
However, you can take precautionary measures to offset these challenges. You can use dampeners to reduce the chances of injury. This protective equipment is available in different shapes and sizes. You can rely on mattresses, mats, pillows, and cushions. You can also get high-quality knee pads, inflatable balancers, foam pads, and wobble cushions.
Avoid stressful plyometric exercises
The volume of exercises has to be adequate and within your tolerance limit. You cannot perform highly intensive routines in a large volume. Else, you will be risking grave injuries to ligaments and joints. But, you can repeat the low-intensity or moderate exercises multiple times.
For example, warm-up routines can be in high volumes. These high knees and butt kicks are not very risky. Also, you can frequently jump rope without fearing stress or serious damage. The number of ground contacts is a good indicator of the exercise volume.
Limit ground contacts to 120 or less for high-intensity routines. Choose a stress-free number based on your training experience. Factor in the routines’ frequency, repetitions, and technique and select a maximum of 3 appropriate exercises for weekly workouts. Design a plyometric plan of 3 to 5 sets with up to 5 repetitions. Vary the exercises, and do them only 2 to 3 times per week.
Do not forgo the safety instructions
Even reputed coaches avoid plyometric exercises due to injury risks. First, they train the athletes to squat twice their body weight. Thankfully, recent research led to the evolution of efficient safety standards. But, you cannot neglect the importance of comprehensive knowledge either.
Muscles reach maximum force or strength in half a second (500 milliseconds). Sprinting is ineffective as ground contact times are in the range of 80 to 120 ms. Sprinting and changing direction is useful in achieving power. Combining power and strength is a superior training strategy. Ground contact time of less than 250 ms ensures stretch reflex.
Consequently, muscles can produce both power and force. Contact times of 100 milliseconds bring you to the plyometric zone, and you can achieve the maximum strength around the 200 milliseconds mark.
Structured plyometric exercises
Amateurs lack experience, and they tend to make more mistakes. Take the help of an expert or find out more about the intensity of routines. The plyometric exercises like warm-ups, jumping rope, and galloping have low-intensity. You can also prance around a lot to make the hips pop and fit.
Single leg scissors, lateral, and stick jumps are moderately intense. The double leg box, broad, and squat jumps also fall in this category, whereas the single-leg bounding and multiple hops are very intense. The double leg multiple squat jumps, double scissors, and depth jumps are also very stressful.
As mentioned before, master the basics even if it takes a long time. Avoid injuries by following a structured plan. Build a good form, body control, and achieve maximum stability at the beginning. Learn landing skills before you do multiple jump drills. Become an expert in double leg landings before you progress. Single jump and landing should be your primary goal. Later, try more intense drills like several jumps and landings.
In conclusion, plyometric exercises are safe, provided they are in a structure and control. You have to choose the appropriate exercises at the onset. After that, be careful with the routines’ frequency and stress levels. Start with low-intensity drills and achieve maximum intensity through gradual progression.
Injuries also depend on the athlete’s age. It would help if you also consider your height, weight, and training experience. The objective is to progress from strength to power without too many risks. Finally, you should also take proper and adequate rest ( 48 to 72 hours between each session).