Plyometrics should be a very important aspect of whatever strength and conditioning program you are using or thinking of using. Why? Because it’ll help you improve your skills!
Are you interested in increasing and developing your running and jumping skills?
Or how about adding more explosive power to your movements on the court? We thought so!
What is plyometrics?
It’s a way to greatly improve the power of any movement you make.
We would define power as the combination of speed and strength.
When it comes to resistance movements like running, jumping or bench pressing, the person performing the fastest would be considered to have the most power. So, adding the factor of time to speed and strength gives us the power aspect.
Plyometrics involves the lengthening (eccentric contraction) and shortening (concentric contraction) of the muscles.
Example of eccentric contraction: When your pectoral muscle stretches during the downward movement of a push-up exercise, it has gone through an eccentric contraction. It is also said to have been “loaded”.
Example of concentric contraction: As you push yourself up to complete the push-up, your pectoral muscle now goes through a concentric contraction as it shortens.
Whew! Making sense? You can find more info on stretching basics and tips here.
As your muscles stretch (eccentric), they build up energy. Some of that energy gets lost as heat but some is stored in the muscle. Then, as the muscle shortens during a concentric action, that energy is made available to the muscle as an extra boost.
Again, when we talk about plyometrics, the key factor here is time. How fast can we get the muscle to contract after it’s been stretched (eccentric contraction)? The extra energy boost we mentioned will be lost if the muscle isn’t contracted right after it’s been stretched.
To achieve the greatest force, or power, you must contract the muscle (after it’s been stretched) in the shortest possible time!
This whole process we’ve described is most often called the “stretch shortening cycle” and is the main aspect of plyometric training.