Incorporating plyometrics into daily life


Leila Stewart, Sports Editor

“Conditioning” is often referred to in the high school athletics scene. When athletes and coaches use this term they may think of this as running or merely cardio exercises. Well, people-who-hate-running, you’re in luck.


Plyometrics is a type of exercise that involves sudden movements and jumps. This incorporates not only cardio exercises but strength training as well. This is beneficial because it stimulates different muscle groups while also helping with coordination and agility. This type of exercise greatly assists in weight loss because of the high energy it takes and amount of calories it burns.


Plyometrics is not something that can only be accomplished in the gym. It is a part of daily life. Leaping from a step off the bus onto a curb, standing up after being seated, or playing hopscotch are all examples of these exercises.


Plyometric exercises can also be performed at home.


Front box jumps are one example. Setting up and jumping onto a sturdy box placed in front of the body and continuously adding height will gradually increase vertical jump. Body weights, such as a weighted vest, barbells or dumbbells, may also be added to make the move more challenging. This will also increase quadriceps and glute muscle strength.


Another type of beneficial box jump is called the lateral box jump. This is similar to a front box jump except the box is placed and jumped on from a lateral position. (Or placed next to the person).


Box jumps are not the only type of plyometric exercise. Other exercises include high knees, squat jumps, and burpees.


As referred to in a Huffington Post article, LifeTime Fitness health and fitness instructor Deborah McConnell agrees that plyometric exercises should be performed but with precaution.


“The bounding and rebounding movements of plyometrics are very high intensity,” said McConnell. “You want to make sure the person has some foundational knowledge and fitness level.”


Before and after plyometric exercises, stretches should be performed for at least ten minutes to prevent possible injuries. The exercise should not be completed at its maximum or hardest level the first time it is introduced. It needs to be a gradual process.


There are risks of plyometric exercises that should be taken into consideration. The fast-paced movement and jumping may cause stress on joints. If no physical activity has been going on prior to starting plyometric exercises, then there is a risk of strain since the muscles surrounding the joints are weaker and cannot support them.


Whether training for sports or simply to stay in shape, plyometrics can be incorporated into exercise routines as long as the proper preparation is done beforehand and other types of exercises, such as running, are not neglected.


Rice University football defensive coordinator Brian Stewart has been coaching and training collegiate and professional athletes for 26 years. He incorporates both plyometrics and conditioning into his workouts for his players.


“Plyometrics and measured conditioning is the best way. Measured conditioning, for example, would be running a mile twice a week or doing a 3 by 400-meter sprint. Perform plyometric exercises the days you don’t run,” said Stewart.