JOE's post-workout tips: A plyometric circuit for explosive strength
From box jumps to push ups, there are plenty of different ways to work on your explosive strength
Whether you play sports, workout just to stay fit or simply want to improve your performance in the gym, you'll see plenty of benefits from doing some form of plyometric training.
Plyometrics essentially train your muscles to contract faster, in particular for functional movements such as jumping or throwing, as well as focusing on coordinating strength and speed which can be of great benefit to athletes, but to anyone who wants to burn fat and increase muscle strength. This can also help to reduce the risk of injury, but as with all exercises and forms of training, seek the proper advice from a trainer, make sure that your form does not suffer, and don't go too hard, too fast.
With all these exercises, the key will be to make sure that you have the correct technique and don't sacrifice the quality of your reps for the quantity that you're doing. For all of them, aim for about 5-6 reps until you're confident, and then progress towards 10.
Low to high box jump
If your gym doesn't have plyometric boxes, it's possible to make them and do some of these workouts at home if you have the space. You can also buy them, or ask your gym to get them in, seeing as they should be a part of any decent facility's core equipment.
Line up three boxes of differing heights, starting with the lowest and moving up higher in a progression. What you want to do is jump up on to the lowest box, making sure both your feet land at the same time, then jump off so that you land in front of the next highest box. Set yourself again (take your time and make sure you've got the explosive energy to make the jump) and jump up on to the next highest box. Sames as the last time, dismount, making sure both your feet land at the same time, and jump on to the highest box in the series. Our mate Scott Herman runs us through a brief display, but he's going a lot faster than we recommend you do if you're just starting out.
Again, he also recommends 10-20 reps, but start small and slow and make sure that you aren't going to injure yourself. Make sure that you're not bending down below a 90° angle at your knee to make the jump, as that will put extra strain on your joints but also is not of much benefit in a sporting situation, as you're unlikely to be able to bend your knee 135° to make a jump for a header or leap for an aerial ball. If you're not confident that you can make the highest box, leave it out and just do two, or see if there is a smaller box that you feel you could make.
Do 5-6 reps of this jump circuit, with the progression from low to high counting as one rep. Do 3 sets.
Single leg box jump
While you have the box jumps out, you can progress to the next exercise which is a single leg box jump. Control and balance will be key to your form here, as you need to make sure that you have the ability to launch and land on the same leg, keeping it stable throughout the movement.
You can use whatever size of box you want, but it's a good idea to start with a small box and make sure that your technique is fine. Swinging your arms up in a controlled manner is also a good way to help you generate the explosive power from one leg to jump up. Starting on your right leg, lift your left leg off the ground, lower yourself slightly so that you can explode up, and land on the box on the same leg, without lowering your left leg.
Complete 5-6 reps, and switch to your other leg, completing a further 5-6 reps. Aim for 3 sets.
Moving to the upper body, plyometric exercises are also of huge benefit. Again, the concentration must be on form, stability and technique. Our mate Anthony at Raw Condition Gym runs us through the exercise and the key pointers in the video below.
While Anthony uses benches, you can work your way up to that by using aerobic steps, which are adjustable in height, or start on the ground and simply explode up and control the downwards movement, until you're confident that you can make a higher movement.
Posterior swing to earthquake
Using a medicine ball or a slam ball, if your gym has one, hold the ball out in front of you, swinging the ball down between your legs by bending your knees and pivoting at the hip, then bring the ball up overhead as you thrust your hips forward, and slam it back down.
The key here, as pointed out in the video, is to ensure that you use your whole body to slam, and not just your arms.
One of the key factors with any workout program is nutrition, so make sure you get some protein to help maintain and grow muscle mass. For something that’s delicious, try Mooju chocolate milk. With over 10g of protein in a 250ml container, as well as carbohydrate, Mooju is a great choice for your workout.
Hat-tip to Scott Herman Fitness. Check out his vids for more great ideas