jump to get fit : power of plyometrics

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The power of what, you ask? Yes, that is a real word, and a great word indeed. A word which should be added to everyone’s vocabulary and routine. I’m talking about fitness. And I’m talking about a type of fitness that will get you fit in no time. No, really, plyometrics are insanely time efficient. You’ll never want to go back to the elliptical again! And you might never have to.

Plyometrics are movements which involve jumping, or any “loading” of the muscles with power, which will be translated into force. They are quick, explosive movements. This could be anything from your most basic jumping jack, to a mini squat jump, to a burpee or even to a 36 inch high box jump. Plyometric movements involve quickening the time between when your muscles contract and lengthen, or in the language of fitness newbies, the time between when you are jumping and landing in some sort of movement.

So whilst you may risk your reputation looking rather insane, jumping around wildly, simply in order to burn some calories and tone up, let me assure you that there is a method to my madness. Plyometrics are great for a variety of reasons:

You can structure a plyometric workout to become a high intensity interval (HIIT) cardio session to burn serious calories in much less time. HIIT is not only time efficient, but actually can be more effective at burning fat and stimulating weight loss than your traditional “steady-state” cardio – i.e. the mind numbing elliptical. So don’t linger for an hour on that awful machine, jump around outside for half an hour and reap even more benefits in half the time! (But don’t completely ditch out on those longer, slow cardio days – they are great for active recovery!)

This type of exercise also results in not only maximized calorie burn while jumping around, but greater calorie burn afterwards and at rest, increasing your resting metabolic rate, sometime even days after. Yay for quick metabolisms! Who wouldn’t be smiling to themselves knowing they are burning more calories sitting on the couch watching the latest Modern Family episode had they not done their “plyo” (trendy trainer slang for plyometrics) workout.

Furthermore, plyometrics simultaneously combine muscle strengthening and toning with the calorie and fat burn of a cardio session. I don’t know about you, but I am all for killing two birds with one stone. We’re all busy bees, so getting a good, quick and effective workout in feels so good! Building muscle + burning calories = effective and efficient fitness.

Oh, and for all you runners or bikers, doing these plyo workouts will make you quicker! Plyometrics are meant to improve the speed at which your muscles contract, making them work more efficiently, more powerful.

And finally, for women, you may forget their your dainty little bones are at a lot more risk than our rugged male counterparts. Activities which involve ground-impact, such as jumping, promote increases in bone density, so you don’t have to worry about osteoporosis when you get older. So jump around, it’s good for you!

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Here are some more exercise examples::

Squat Jumps: Squat down and take a small jump up, just to lift feet off ground, landing back in a squat, only to immediately jump up again. Repeat until heart rate is sky high!

Lateral hops: Jump sideways from one foot to another, reaching across with your opposite arm, “speed skating”, from one imaginary cone to another.

Tuck Jumps: squat down and jump up, tucking your feet under you, as if to kick your butt. Upon landing in a squat, jump immediately into the next one.

Step-up Hops: Find a sturdy step, bench, etc. to place on foot on and step up using one leg and once up, jump up on that same foot for a tiny hop. Then tap back down to the ground, leaving the same active leg on the step, only to repeat the movement, hopping up again with the foot that steps up.

Scissor Lunges: Assume a lunge position, and quickly switch your feet in and out to bring one foot forward in the lunge, the other one back in the lunge, still getting deep in the lunge.

Touch-the-Ground Squat Jumps: Get deep into a squat, touch the ground with your hands, chest still tall, jump up as high as you can with your hands, and land back into the squat only to jump up again immediately.

Box Jumps: Find a box, stool, or step which you can jump onto from standing, landing low in a squat. Jump, or step off, only to repeat again.

So jump around, and get fit.

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