#TryItTuesday: Plyos, Yes or No?
This past weekend, I was reading a health and wellness magazine and came across an article that recommended putting plyos in your workout routine. I had heard of plyos, but I wasn’t really sure what it was, and of course, the big questions: Is this something I should be doing? Or am I too old?
What Exactly Plyometrics Are
Remember the fun we had as kids, hopping, skipping and jumping around the playground? Plyometrics mimic these moves.
Plyos (short for plyometrics) used to be called “jump training.” Plyos incorporate explosive movements into a workout. Exercises move from muscle extension to muscle contraction in quick succession in order to increase power, flexibility and speed.
An example of a plyometric movement is instead of doing a regular squat, doing a squat followed by a jump into the air with legs fully extended.
Plyometrics are primarily used by athletes, to improve performance. So, the question is: Do plyos in the fitness routine for the average 50-year old just trying to get back into shape? I say "yes," especially if you are looking to take your workout to the next level or add variety (like me.)
Plyometrics are a great way to increase the calorie burn of your workout while improving your fitness level and strength.
Facts About Plyometrics
- Intensity level is high, and so too are the impacts.
- This workout is good for flexibility as it combines contracting your muscles and stretching them.
- Pylometrics aren't considered an aerobic workout, but if you repeat your jumps without pausing for 30 to 60 second intervals, your heart rate will go up.
- This workout is great for muscle strengthening.
- It's free and can be done at home, outdoors, in the gym and while traveling. Just make sure to choose a soft surface for landing.
- No equipment is required, but you can use cones or foam barriers to jump over, if you wish.
Please take this note of caution: If you have arthritis or other bone or joint problems, plyometrics are not a good choice for you. As with any new physical activity, if you have any question regarding its safety and your body, please check with your health care provider before starting.
How To Start
For me, the easiest way to get started was by incorporating a few plyometric movements into the exercises I’ve already been doing. I quickly learned that proper form is critical, so performing the exercises in front of a mirror or having someone watch me has been essential in preventing any injuries.
Here are a few examples of plyo exercises:
Jump squats: As you lower into the squat, extend your arms and bend the elbows with hands in a loose fist. When you reach the squat position with your thighs parallel to the floor, push off the balls of your feet and jump, fulling extending your legs and letting your arms swing behind you. Land softly on the balls of your feet as knees bend back down into the squat position.
Split lunges: Step forward with one leg and lower your body to 90 degrees at both knees. Keep your weight in your heels and don’t allow your knees to cross the plane of your toes. Using your quadriceps, hamstrings and hip flexors, spring out of the lunge position into the air, switching the feet so that the right leg is in front and the left leg is behind you when you land. Lower into another lunge, switching sides when you jump to complete one rep. Land softly and maintain proper form throughout the movement.
Plank jumping-jacks: Start in the plank position with arms straight, hands stacked beneath the shoulders, core engaged and hips tucked up and in. Keeping your hips stable, jump your feet out wide and back together, landing softly on your toes.
Box jumps: Stand in front of a box or other suitable platform, such as a park bench. A sturdy surface 12 inches off the ground is a good starting point, but this can be higher or lower depending on your fitness level. Bending your knees and swinging your arms, jump up onto the box and either jump or step immediately back down to the same position, quickly jumping up again for the next repetition.
Pushup with a pop-up: Begin in a high plank, lowering your body into a pushup and back up to the starting position. At the top of your pushup, jump both feet forward until they are just behind your hands. Shift your weight forward, then jump your legs back to the starting position to complete one rep.
An Aggressive Routine Shake-Up
Because of the intensity, plyos should not be done daily. Your muscles will need a break from all that jumping. If you’re not active now, you may need to start working on your basic fitness first and later have a trainer show you how to perform the moves, so you don't get injured.
For me, plyos are a fun alternative to my strength-training workouts. I love the variety and adding a bit of intensity to some of the more familiar moves. I’m also hoping it will help me with my strength, balance and agility, and help with the boredom of the same ol’ routine.