Jump on the plyometric bandwagon, or in this case the plyometric box, to power up your muscles and improve your fitness performance.
Most athletes are familiar with plyometric exercises, which require the maximum exertion of your muscles in short intervals of time – think printers warming up with tuck jumps or footballers doing their lateral jumps over cones during training.
Not only do plyometric exercises improve speed and strength, they are great for improving coordination and agility. Plus, these heart raisers can be a great boost for our metabolism.
Ready to power up your muscles and fitness? Try these five exercises that can be done fuss-free at home with minimum equipment or set up. That said, don’t attempt to go from zero to hero, risking injury and your sanity.
1. Jump Squats
Lower yourself to a squat position – think sitting on a chair with your back straight except that it is not there – then, using your arms to propel yourself upwards, jump as high as you possibly can. Cushion your landing with bent knees back in the squat position and immediately take off to your next squat jump upon easing into that invisible chair. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps.
Extensions: Depending on where you train, you may want to make a marking as to where you last jumped and challenge yourself farther up the next time. Some gyms are equipped with vertical jump measuring devices which one may make use of too.
2. Squats to Box Jumps
Perform your usual squat by lowering your bottom down till your thighs are parallel to the ground then pause and load for a second while keeping a straight back and the body tension. From this static position, jump off and onto the plyometric box as if you are literally jumping out of the seat. Step off the box and repeat for 8 to 12 reps.
Extensions: Your plyometric box should be about knee height before you raise it any higher – to a height enough to challenge you to give your best effort. Most plyometric boxes come with height markings.
3. Alternate Leg Bounding
Almost similar to slow running, alternate leg bounding requires that you lift each leg as much as possible while stretching your stride with each push-off. First, balance on one leg before bounding forward with the opposite leg with accompanying knee raised to about 90 degrees or thigh parallel to the ground. Remember to bend your knees when landing to cushion the impact. Alternate your arm swing with the opposite leg. Repeat bounding movement on both legs with control for 8 to 12 reps.
Extensions: You may choose to wear light weights around your ankles or hold dumbbells in your hands as you progress to increase the difficulty.
4. Standing Broad Jump
Now, this sounds familiar, doesn’t it? As with many plyometric exercises, the standing broad jump begins with a squat. But while some of our teachers may insist we gain momentum by swinging our arms and squatting a few times before we lift off for that attempt to score that much coverted gold, just a single squat before the thrusting forward of our hips and propelling forth of our arms for a maximum effort would do for the purpose of this plyometric exercise.
Extensions: A dome marker or any soft object may be placed slightly behind the farthest distance you may jump. This would encourage you to jump farther and higher without compromising on safety.
5. Lateral Medicine Ball Slam (medicine ball required)
Standing perpendicular to a wall with your feet shoulder-width distance apart, maintain a straight back. Hold the medicine ball to one side of your body with your arms extended to about the height of your hip area. Rotate towards the wall and slam the ball as hard as you can into the wall with an underhand grip or a scooping action. Catch the rebound and repeat 8 to 12 times in the opposite direction.
Extensions: Increase the weight of the medicine ball gradually or do a kneeling variation of the lateral medicine ball slam to isolate the torso rotation movement.