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Plyometrics by Prenna
Most people who are engaged in some form of athletic pursuit rely on both strength and speed as part of their activities. To help improve these aspects of fitness coaches and athletes have been a system of exercise known as plyometrics. Plyometrics were developed in Eastern Europe for Olympic competitors. These athletes saw greater improvements than when they worked on separate speed and strength exercises. Since they were first developed plyometrics have been used by athletes from all over the sporting world, from combat sports to skating.
Plyometric exercises stretch the muscle being used just before a sharp, explosive contraction. An example of this is in the vertical jump test, where the quadricep muscles are stretched in the squatting motion just before the athlete jumps vertically upward in an explosive contraction of the quadriceps.
Some Example Plyometric Exercises:
- Tuck Jumps: Stand on a spot and jump vertically and try to bring your knees up to your chest. This is one of the more low intensity plyometric exercises.
-Bounding: As it sounds, just perform multiple bounds forward while trying to spend as little time in contact with the ground as possible. This is a medium intensity exercise.
-Box Drops: Stand on a low box and allow yourself to drop off it to the ground. As soon as you make contact with the ground attempt to spring straight back up onto the box again. This is a very high intensity plymetric exercise and should be left until you have been doing plyometrics for some time.
- Situps with a Clap: These are performed as normal except that as you push up you allow your hands to leave the floor and clap. The idea is again to spend as little time as possible in contact with the floor to gain maximum explosiveness.
As with all exercises proper warm up's and cool down's must be performed. As you begin to explore plyometrics you will start to come up with ideas for more sport specific exercises. The main things to remember are that the movements must be fast and explosive and performed with good form. As this type of exercise works the muscle so intensively it is not something to be done every day but if plyometrics are incorporated into your routines you will see a great increase in your overall power.
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