​5 Most Common Plyometic Mistakes

Plyometrics are one of the most effective tools for developing more powerful athletes. However, like many things with great potential, that potential can only be realised if used correctly. This way, you will be able to sprint faster, jump higher and change directions more quickly.
Unfortunately, there have been plenty of opportunities where plyometrics get abused and turned into something unrecognizable, unhelpful and downright dangerous.

Before you launch headfirst into the training in explosive plyometrics or any plyo workout—you must master three skills: (a)landing properly, (b)jumping properly and (c) jumping, landing and jumping again properly in quick succession. You need to know that you’re nailing them every time.

Arguably, the most important plyometric tip you will ever learn is “every landing should be as quiet as possible.” A quiet landing means you are  using proper technique and limiting the impact on your joints. Consistently landing softly allows you to get more benefits from a plyometric program with less wear and tear on your body.

Here is a breakdown of five ways that athletes and coaches get plyos wrong and changes you can make today to get them right.

1. You Don’t Know the Difference Between Force and Power

This cuts to the core of what plyos are all about. If you don’t understand the difference, then you can’t understand what plyometrics are actually meant to do.
Sports performance studies have conclusively demonstrated that plyometrics  are one of the best methods for  helping athletes transfer the strength they gain in the weight room into faster,  more explosive power on the field,  track or court.

So what’s the difference between force and power? The answer is time.

In the weight room, you need to produce enough force to move a weight. A 300-pound squat requires the athlete to drive 300 pounds of force into the ground to move the weight up and back to the start position. How long it takes doesn’t matter. You could hit the lift in a second, or fight it for 10 seconds. In either case, you’re producing 300 pounds of force.

But in game situations, you only have a fraction of a second to produce the force that will get you off the ground and ahead of  your opponents.  If the defender standing next to you has the same squat strength as you but can produce that force half a second faster than you, he is going to get off the ground faster, and jump higher.

Power is what matters most in team sports, because time is the key difference maker.

This is where plyometric training comes in. Plyos teach your body to apply the force you develop in the weight room in the shortest amount of time possible. Applying a big force in a little amount of time equals maximum power.

Far too many athletes spend all their time focused on the weight room trying to lift heavier and heavier weights. But that’s only part of the power equation. They are missing the essential element of time—and that’s improved best with plyos.

2. You Think Jumping Is Always a Plyometric Exercise

A lot of people refer to plyometrics as “jump training.” While many plyo exercises involve jumping, jumping isn’t always plyometric. The critical differentiator is an involuntary action in your muscles known as the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC).
The SSC is what happens in your muscles when you change directions in a hurry. It’s basically a three-step process in which your muscles slow down your body’s momentum, hold on to the energy that results from that movement for a tiny fraction of a second, and then convert that energy into more forceful movement.

So how does this translate into real-world activities? Again, it’s all about time. If you were to jump slowly, that’s not really plyometric training. But if you step off a box, land and then explode up as quickly as you can, that is a plyometric movement—because the rapid transition specifically targets the SSC.

Plyos make your body more efficient through the stretch shortening cycle. As you improve, your muscles become better able to generate fast, powerful movement.

To reiterate, many plyometrics are some form of jump. But not all jumps are plyometric for the reasons we get into below.

3. You Think Plyos Make Great Conditioning Drills 

There has been a recent trend of fitness classes that use plyometric moves as part of a high intensity cardiovascular circuit. That is an awful idea. People who perform these workouts take on all of the risk involved with plyometrics with far less benefit. Plyos are a tool for developing power, not for burning fat. They are ill-suited for that purpose.
It all comes down to fatigue. Plyometric exercises are meant to be done with max force in as little time as possible. You achieve this by performing a few powerful and explosive reps with about 30 seconds of rest (or more) between sets to recover.

This allows you to spend less time on the ground between jumps. Your transition speed is faster, and less elastic energy is wasted as heat, making for more powerful movements. The rest interval enables your energy systems to fully recover so you can give your max effort with every rep.

Plyometric conditioning circuits are designed to cause fatigue, which is the exact opposite of what you want in a proper plyo workout. When you are tired, you spend too much time on the ground. All of the elastic energy you are  creating gets lost as heat.

Will doing plyos fast help you get in shape? Sure. Repeatedly jumping is tough, and it challenges your conditioning. But when you are tired, you are also more likely to use improper technique. When technique breaks down, stress increases. Your landings gradually become harder and louder, and those jarring impact forces get absorbed by your joints rather than your muscles, which can lead to an injury over time.

4. You Save The Best For Last

Sometimes athletes reserve plyos for the end of their workouts which is precisely the wrong way to go.

It is not possible to perform plyos with full explosiveness at the end of a workout. Strength exercises fatigue your muscles and sap the amount of force they can produce. Also, your central nervous system, the control center that tells your muscles to fire, is no longer as able to produce explosive movements.

The result is a movement that looks like a plyo, but without the force and power needed to train the SSC. You might do a lot of jumping and put all your effort into the movement, but the jumps will almost certainly not be plyometric.

To solve this problem, perform plyos after your warm-up but before your heavy lifting or sprint work. You should be stretched and ready for explosive movements but still feel fresh. In short, warm up, do plyos, then lift or do speed drills.

5.  You Believe Size Of Box Matters    

 It may look cool to leap on top of something that comes up to your chest, but using a box that’s too tall too soon is a good way to hurt yourself. Far too many athletes take falls and injure themselves while trying to pull off big Box Jumps for the sake of showing off on social media.

Worse still, it is not even beneficial from a training standpoint.

In a proper Box Jump, your hips and knees should have about the same degree of bend when you land as they do when you start your jump. If you have to tuck your knees to your chest to land a leap, your box is too high.

For Box Jumps, Depth Drops and Depth Jumps, start with a box the same height as your knees, and gradually progress to taller boxes to keep the exercises challenging.

For Depth Drops and Depth Jumps, use a box that allows you to land softly relative to your ability. You need to judge what feels right.

It is better to increase the difficulty gradually than to try and make big leaps and wind up with achy knees or ankles. A cautious approach is the way to go.

Remember, if you suffer an injury, you can’t play your sport or train to get better, which is a surefire way to fall behind your opponents.

Hope ye enjoy the blog post guys ☺

               

Understanding Energy Systems and Performance

Every cell in your body requires an unrelenting supply of energy to keep you alive.

Energy systems are the way the body meets these energy demands.  Conditioning is directly related to energy production and expenditure.

Your body uses two primary energy pathways:

1.) Aerobic (requiring oxygen)
2.) Anaerobic (without oxygen)

Both of these energy systems are responsible for the production of ATPthe molecule which provides most of the body’s energy.

Energy production is so crucial to your survival that your body has several systems in place to regulate the process and make sure that energy demands are met smoothly, namely through homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the maintenance of the body’s internal environment within the required physiological ranges in the face of varying internal and external stressors.

Basically, homeostasis regulates what happens inside the body under the purpose of continued energy production and delivery.

From a big picture perspective, every adaptive response to the body’s environment is to maintain homeostasis and to continue producing energy in that specific environment.

There are three variables that define the type of environment that your body perceives: 

1.) Rate of energy production

When there is a high rate of energy production required, the activity is anaerobically dominant.

High rate = High Power output

  1. Track and Field-jumps/throws/sprints
  2. Weightlifting 
  3. Power lifting 

2.) Duration of energy production

When there is a high duration of energy production required, the activity is aerobically dominant

Duration = economy/efficient

Endurance events

  1. Triathlons
  2. Cycling
  3. Marathons

3.) Work-to-rest ratio

When there is a high level of work with only a small amount of rest, the activity is aerobically dominant

These three variables can be understood within the context of the force-fatigability relationship, that as the maximum rate of energy production increases, the maximum duration of energy production decreases (and vice versa).

Understanding the simple yet powerful concept of the anaerobic power reserve is absolutely essential to getting to the heart of how energy systems and performance are related

Today, it is accepted that the energy provision for every effort relies on the simultaneous participation of all three energy pathways with a predominant pathway working above the others

Explosive Efforts: all-out exercises with a duration of up to 6 s (predominance of phosphagens pathway). 

High Intensity Efforts: all-out efforts lasting from 6 s to 1 min  (predominance of the glycolytic pathway in addition to the ‘phosphagen’s pathway and ‘oxidative phosphorylation’)

Endurance Intensive Efforts: exercise with a duration exceeding 1 min (predominance of ‘oxidative phosphorylation’).

There is a trade off between the duration of an activity and the amount of power you can exert.

Different energy systems are capable of producing ATP at different rates and for different durations.

The two anaerobic systems (glycolysis and phosphocreatine hydrolysis) are utilized most for short duration activities with high power output.

The more efficient aerobic system, on the other hand, is capable of producing a lower power output for a much longer duration.

MYTH: anything explosive or requiring a massive amount of strength is an anaerobic event.

Not necessarily: the aerobic system predominates in activity lasting more than around 50 seconds, even though you may still be explosive or strong.

The contribution of the aerobic system to energy production increases over time.

What about events with repetitive tasks or movements (football, MMA, etc.)?

As an action/activity is repeated over and over again, it becomes more and more aerobic, which is why you slow down with each repeat.

Consequently, it’s not surprising that most team sports have a huge aerobic component to them.

During all-out, max effort activities, the crossover to aerobic dominance occurs at around 20-30 seconds.

So how much speed/power does the anaerobic component account for? 

Different people are able to produce a different amount of power anaerobically versus aerobically.  This difference is called the anaerobic power reserve.

Anaerobic power reserve= max speed – max speed produced aerobically

Don’t get confused by the equation: the anaerobic power reserve is simply the portion of your max speed that is not produced from your aerobic energy system.

The amount of your max speed produced aerobically versus anaerobically can predict how soon you will fatigue:
Those with a larger component of energy coming from the aerobic system are able to maintain speed a lot longer than those with a larger anaerobic component.

A lot of runners sabotage their training by allowing their long runs and easy runs to become anaerobic, and this can sacrifice future races, as well as future workouts

 Improving aerobic fitness is one of the most important concepts when it comes to training in general.

Your capacity for improving the aerobic system is much greater than the anaerobic system.

This is because there are 3 factors that contribute to aerobic fitness, all of which you can manipulate:

1.) Oxygen supply
2..) Oxygen utilization
3.) Substrate availability

In order to talk about training aerobic fitness, we must broach the controversial topic of training intensity…

If you look at only a short period of time, the body adapts quicker to high intensity training (it provides a stronger stimulus).

However, if you train beyond 4-6 week at a high intensity, you are going to see higher rates of plateauing and overtraining.

Moderate and low intensity training produce less significant improvements in the short run but greater and longer lasting improvements over the long run.  

When it comes to actual aerobic training methods, there are a couple of basic principles:
1.) Heart rate should be below anaerobic threshold
2.) The lower the intensity, the higher the volume
3.) Aerobic fitness can be improved through steady state or intervals

Now on to some actual training methods…

Cardiac Output:
Goal: increase the left ventrical size and improve slow twitch muscle fiber endurance

Key Characteristics:
HR in the 130-150 bpm range
30-90 minutes of activity

Tempo Intervals:
Goal: increase capillary density and oxidative abilities of slow and some fast-twitch fibers

Key Characteristics:
8-10 sec work (70% of max intensity), 60 sec rest
8-16 reps
moderate intensity

High Resistance Intervals:
Goal: improve endurance of fast-twitch muscle fibers

Key Characteristics:
high resistance- incline or load
short work period ,5-6 sec
rest until heart rate is in the 130-160 range
moderate-to-high volume

improve aerobic fitness

 

In fact, it’s one of the most important concepts when it comes to training in general… 

How to Build Explosive Power 

There are two parts to the anaerobic system, both of which produce energy much faster than the aerobic system.

Furthermore, during a 400-m all-outrun of about 52-s, the last 20-s of effort is performed at VO2max, showing that the activation of ‘oxidative phosphorylation’ is much faster than previously thought [21]. Today, it is accepted that the energy provision for every effort relies on the simultaneous participation of all three energy pathways with a predominant pathway working above the others [21]. 


1.) Alactic (Mostly explosive but only produces energy for a few seconds)
2.) Lactic

The cost of such rapid energy production is that it leads to fatigue much faster and you’re not able to sustain high power output as long.

When it comes to actual anaerobic training methods, there are a couple of basic principles:

1.) Intensity should always be greater than 90%
2.) Use longer rest periods for developing max power and shorter rest periods for improved capacity
3.) Anaerobic training is about much more than just fatigue

We see these principles reflected in the following anaerobic training methods:

Alactic Interval Training:
Goal: increase rate and capacity of lactic energy production

Key Characteristics:
3-6 sec of work, 60-120 sec rest
10-20 sets
Use exercises intended for explosive strength and power training

Lactic Interval Training:
Goal: increase lactic energy production and anaerobic endurance

Key Characteristics:
30-40 sec of work, 1-4 min of rest
2-5 sets
1-2 series

Rest longer for lactic power, shorter for lactic capacity

Resistance Training and Runners/Gains in Performance

Resistance training is extremely beneficial as it:

1. Enhances endocrine and immune function (which are compromised by endurance training)

2. Maintains muscle mass (also negatively affected by endurance training)

3. Improves functional capacity in spite of aging by maintaining maximal strength and power (both of which decrease with prolonged endurance training)

4. Builds bone density (something many runners lack due to poor dietary practices, but desperately need in light of the high risk of stress fractures)

5. Enables us to more rapidly correct muscle imbalances, as evidenced by the fact that resistance training is the cornerstone of any good physical therapy program.

Amazingly, a single bout of resistance training can elevate the metabolism for more than 48 hours – and favorably affect endocrine and immune status in a manner that is conducive to fat loss. If you want to be lean, you have to lift weights!

Scientists at the Research Institute for Olympic Sports at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland found that replacing 32% of regular endurance training volume with explosive resistance training for nine weeks improved 5km times and running economy.
Running is more than just VO2max, anaerobic threshold, and a good pair of sneakers; it’s also about localized muscular endurance and nervous system efficiency. And, you can’t have strength endurance unless you’ve got strength. Build a solid foundation and you’ll be a complete runner.

Resistance training isn’t just about “feeling the burn” in your muscles; it’s about grooving connections between the muscles and the nervous system that tells them what to do.
When you use machine’s and work through a fixed line of motion, you’re allowing your nervous system to get lazy, so to speak; it doesn’t have to recruit any stabilizing muscles to ensure that you move efficiently. Machines turn you into a “motor moron” and ingrain muscle imbalances that can negatively affect your running efficiency and lead to injury.
When you do a dumbbell lunge, your body has to generate force in single-leg stance – and in order to generate force optimally, you need to have what is called “frontal plane stability.” With the lunge, this refers predominantly to the ability of the adductors (inner thigh muscles) and abductors (outer thigh/butt muscles) to co-contract, working together stabilize your thigh so that you don’t tip over. By doing a lunge correctly, we can teach these muscles to balance each other out properly, and in doing so, improve running efficiency and prevent problems such as lateral knee pain, anterior hip pain, and lower back pain (just to name a few).
A look at the status quo, however, shows that most women will try to train their adductors and abductors with those inner and outer thigh machines. Unfortunately, the adductors and abductors NEVER work in isolation like this, and they never work in a fixed line of motion. The adductors and abductors don’t just move the thighs in and out; they also have subtle effects on rotation of the femur, so when we’re “stuck” into one plane of motion, we promote dysfunction.
Factor in that the lunge also trains the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, and core stabilizers extensively at the same time, and you’ll realize that it isn’t only safer than these machines; it’s also offers more bang for your buck. Why do five different exercises when you can get even better results with just one?

When we resistance train, it’s important that we – over time – gradually increase the load that is imposed on our system; otherwise, our body doesn’t really have any reason to adapt in a manner that will be favorable to use getting stronger, faster, or leaner.
The most successful endurance athletes are the ones who go the fastest for a set distance – not the ones who can run the longest. Anybody can go forever. Step outside your comfort zone by moving faster, desensitise yourself to zones above your normal race pace, and – perhaps most importantly. If you are serious about making improvements to your running, start heavy and explosive resistance training(progressively of course).

Specificity of training is more important than we think. If you want to run a marathon, you don’t do all your training on a cycle, do you? Of course not! It wouldn’t be specific for you!
In scientific jargon, super-slow training doesn’t work due to a phenomenon called “asynchronous recruitment.” We all have slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers, and it’s to our advantage to activate as many of them as possible when we resistance train in order to truly reap the benefits that our nervous system and muscles can offer. Slow twitch fibers are always recruited first; your body won’t also call upon the fast twitch fibers in your muscles unless it really needs help with a challenging task – like the last few reps on a set of five squats.

Once we’re a bit experienced with resistance training, in order to recruit fast twitch fibers (which can actually be converted to slow twitch fibers to enhance endurance performance), we need to train with at least 70% of our maximal strength on a particular exercise in order to build strength with classic “repetition work.” The more experienced one gets, the higher this percentage goes; really experienced lifters won’t get stronger below 85-90%, in fact.
Jump squats are a good example of dynamic effort training, which teaches the nervous system to recruit muscles faster. Additionally, some dynamic effort training can teach your tendons to store more elastic energy (like plyometrics). If your tendons work more efficiently, your running style is more relaxed, reflexive, and “springy,” as you don’t have to “muscle” every stride.