Newsletters

Get Well+Being delivered to your inbox every Monday Morning.

Fit Check: Plyometrics
These 11 exercises will help you build explosive power and speed By Melissa Romero
Comments () | Published December 2, 2011
If you caught the NBA All-Star Slam Dunk Contest last week, you probably saw Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin jump over a car. Chalk it up to pure talent if you want, but chances are he has spent some serious time at the gym improving his hops.

Athletes like Griffin who want to improve their explosiveness usually turn to plyometrics, a training regimen that combines strength and speed for maximum power. It’s not for the faint of heart: The National Strength and Conditioning Association says you should be able to squat more than 1½ times your body weight before incorporating plyometric exercises into your workout. And high-school athletes should avoid plyometrics altogether; it can damage growth plates in their bones.

Whitney Maymon, a trainer at Evolution, a personal-training studio near Thomas Circle, says it’s safe to incorporate one to two plyometric exercises into your routine once a week, but only after you’ve started a strength-training program. Here are 11 exercises to try if you want to be the next Blake Griffin.

Warm-up
Before starting your workout, warm up for 10 minutes to get your heart rate up. Maymon says jumping rope is a good choice. Dynamic stretches, such as leg swings or arm circles, are ideal for warming up, too.

Exercise 1: Squat Jumps
Muscles areas: Quads, hamstrings
Intensity: Low
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

With feet just wider than hip width, go down into a deep squat. Then, in one fluid motion, jump as high as you can, extending your arms upward and using them to help propel you into the air. You should come to full hip-and-knee extension at the height of the jump. Repeat.

Exercise 2: Split-Squat Jumps
Muscles areas: Quads, hamstrings
Intensity: Low
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Start in a lunge position. Keep your back upright. From the lunge position, jump up, switching legs mid-air, and land in the lunge position with the opposite leg forward. This should all be one fluid motion. Repeat.

Exercise 3: Lateral Box Push-Offs
Muscle areas: Legs
Intensity: Moderate
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Stand next to a platform or box that is between from mid-shin to knee-height. Step sideways onto the box, then, shuffling your feet, step down on the other side. This should all be one fluid motion. Repeat.

Exercise 4: Box Jumps
Muscle areas: Legs
Intensity: Moderate
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Start in a deep squat, and use your arms as you jump onto the box, coming to full hip extension at the top of the box. Jump or step down to the floor and repeat.

Exercise 5: Hurdle Jumps
Muscle areas: Legs
Intensity: Low
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Lay out three short hurdles about 1½ feet apart. Hop with both feet over the hurdles. Walk back and repeat.

Exercise 6: Tuck Jumps
Muscle areas: Legs
Intensity: Moderate
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Jump in place, tucking your knees to your chest. Swing your arms to give you more power.

Exercise 7: Broad Jumps
Muscle area: Legs
Intensity: Moderate
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Start with a wide stance and get in a deep squat. Use your arms to propel you forward as you jump, reaching full hip extension while in the air. Land in the squat position, and repeat.

Exercise 8: Side Throws
Muscle area: Arms, core, hips
Intensity: Low
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Facing a wall from about three feet away, stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold a light medicine ball in both hands at the right hip. Toss the ball underhand into the wall, twisting your core and hips as you throw. Catch the ball and repeat. After one set on the right side, switch to your left and repeat.

Exercise 9: Arm-Push Throws
Muscle area: Arms, core, hips
Intensity: Low
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Standing in the same position as the side throws, hold the ball in one hand and throw it into the wall. Catch it in the same hand and repeat. Switch arms after one set. Maymon says this exercise is great for baseball or tennis players.

Exercise 10: Ball Slams
Muscle area: Core and lower body
Intensity: Low
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Hold the ball above your head and stand with your feet just wider than hip width. Slam the ball into the ground and catch it. Repeat.

Exercise 11: Plyo Pushups
Muscle area: Arms, core
Intensity: Moderate
Reps: Two to three sets of 10 to 12

Do a standing pushup using the bar of a weight bench. As you push off, do so with enough force that your hands leave the bar as you stand. If you’re comfortable enough, clap your hands mid-air and drop down into another push-up. Advanced athletes can try this exercise on the ground.

Cool down:
Jog for 10 minutes. Within an hour after your workout, eat something with carbohydrates, but be sure to include a larger portion of protein.

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Washingtonian on Twitter
 

More >> Health | Top Doctors | Well+Being Blog

Categories:

Fit Check Fitness Sports
Subscribe to Washingtonian

Discuss this story

Feel free to leave a comment or ask a question. The Washingtonian reserves the right to remove or edit content once posted.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Posted at 04:14 PM/ET, 12/02/2011 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Blogs