Friday, 11 November 2011

The power of plyometrics

Do you ever sit and watch the guys from the NBA? I mean really watch the sportsmen, not the game? Besides the fact that these altitudinous men could easily trip over Tom Cruse and fall with their faces in another hemisphere, these guys can jump.

A sportsman's height or physique has little to do with their abilities to elevate themselves beyond their center of gravity.  Football players, MMA fighters, gymnasts, rugby players, these sportsmen all require explosive power for optimal performance. However even the weekend warrior, housewife or average gym junkie should include explosive training into their regimes.

Developing raw strength and rapid power increases your muscular endurance, efficiency, function and capacity. It improves your rate-of-force production, improves your performance, boosts metabolic rate, enhances your ability to burn calories and of course gives you samurai like characteristics to run raster, jump higher, throw further and punch harder.

Training for fast powerful movements is done through methods of plyometrics.  Plyo's involve using the resistance of gravity to elevate stored elastic energy in muscles during the eccentric (muscle lengthening) contraction.  Energy is then discharged during the concentric (muscle shortening) contraction which results in an explosive burst.  Therefor increasing the muscles performance.

In ninja terms your muscle is contracting before it is expanding.  These fast powerful movements improve the way your nervous system works and therefor enhances your functioning and efficiency.  However plyo training does require a pre-requisite of strength work.  Smashing out plyometric push ups (clap push ups) are going to be virtually impossible if you don't already have the core and upper body strength to handle a normal military push up.

Plyometric exercises load your muscles and then contracts them in a rapid sequence. Training your body to contend with the speed or force of the contractions takes time. Rome wasn't built in a day and assuming after 10 box jumps you are going to be able to crack out slam dunks like Michael Jordan, is just going to leave you face down on the floor, in your own sweat.

Include vertical jumps, over head throws, tuck jumps, slams, drop jumping, squat jumps, and plyo push ups into your drills and perform them in a smooth and integrated fashion as quick as possible with as little ground contact time as possible.

Soon enough you will jump like Jordan and bend it like Beckham.


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