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What is Plyometrics or Jump Training?

Plyometrics Jump Training

Plyometrics or ‘jump training’ are a series of exercises that help muscles burst an explosion of maximum energy in a short interval of time. The focus of plyometrics is to help increase power through specialized repeated jumping and explosive exertion. The muscles are meant to go rapidly extend and contract, allowing the body to activate a quick response.

How Plyometrics Came to Be

Plyometrics Jump Training

Although the term may have been coined by US Olympic long-distance runner Fred Wilt, the concept of plyometric jump training was first demonstrated by Russian athletes during their warm-ups. During one of their track and field events, Wilt noticed many Russians performing jumps rather than simply stretching in one still position like his fellow Americans.

Upon learning that Michael Yessis – a US teacher and sports performance trainer – had been working in the field of Russian training methods, Wilt immediately got together to learn more about this type of exercise. Collaborating, the two eventually based most of the research they brought and disseminated in the US from Russia, using a lot of their knowledge from Yessis work with Yuri Verkhoshansky – author and researcher in special strength training.

The Shock Method of Sports Training

Plyometrics Jump Training

What was known as ‘the Shock Method of Sports Training’ was first introduced by Verkhoshansky in the late 1960’s. Although he had received very little attention for this research, everything written in his books is widely used in modern sports training theory. According to Verkhoshansky, there are five rules that to effective special strength training (SST):

  • Rule 1: Verkhoshansky believed it was important for athletes to first understand SST’s relation to the sport – things such as speed of movement, an athlete’s background, and how all that influences the way specific movements are performed – before executing.
  • Rule 2: Rest in any sport or physical activity is important. However, to Verkhoshansky, it was how you rested that ultimately changed the way you perform. He believed that athletes should ‘actively rest’ with a moderate level of movement – gradual run, shaking of the limbs, and light hops – to help the working muscles clear any metabolic byproducts.
  • Rule 3: Rather than mixing up SST means with other forms of training, it was believed that they athletes should specifically organize special training sessions for SST. By blending various other training methods together, athletes would become quickly fatigued, thereby making the special strength training less effective, or the motivation for maximum effort would reduce.
  • Rule 4: To maintain the training potential, it is suggested to save the best SST exercises for later in the training cycle. This way the body will adapt accordingly and will provide it the necessary stimulus to progress further. This will help strengthen the athlete’s endurance and push them forward in their training, ultimately improving performance.
  • Rule 5: It is recommended that athletes gradually increase the SST means over time, rather than suddenly at once. In other words, they should transition from bound jumps to depth jumps over a period of several weeks. Taking the example of track jumpers, Verkhoshansky first suggests training in unweighted bound jumps for body preparation. From there, barbell squats to increase force for the start of the jump, with a follow up of barbell jumps to help increase the speed. Lastly, depth jumps would help provide high-level stimulus.

Plyometrics & Martial Arts

Plyometrics Jump Training
Plyometrics Jump Training
Plyometrics Jump Training

Since plyometrics helps develop the body to explode from a static position, its applications to martial arts are incomparable to anything else. Not only will they allow for more powerful kicks and punches – the basic moves for most martial art styles – but it can also improve one’s agility as well. The following are just a few plyometric exercises that help martial artists improve their body for faster reflexes, higher jumps, and greater strength:

  • Clap Push Ups: Do a normal push up, except when coming up, you push your body up into the air and do a quick clap before landing back down.
  • Broad Jumps: From one end of the room to the other, you leap forward as far as possible, and continue this over and
  • Lateral Hops: You jump from side to side without stopping
  • Tuck Jumps: At a static position, you jump high up, tucking your legs into your chest with every jump.
  • Medicine Ball Wall Throw: If you have a medicine ball, you throw simply throw it to the wall and when it returns, immediately toss it back against the wall. Repeat this motion over and over.

These are just some of the basic moves that can be done to help any martial artist strengthen their body. However, it must be noted, careful attention to posture and execution should be considered with every exercise, since doing it incorrectly may result in injury.

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