Author: Alex Meiliunas (Ba.Sci Human Movement Maj. Ex Physiology
Since the 1960's, the Soviet Union has been practicing what we now call, Plyometrics. The Soviets had been successful in the use of Plyometrics in their training regimes. The results showed in jumping events. It wasn't until 1975, when Fred Wilt, former Olympic runner, used the term Plyometrics in North America. The Russian Yuri Verhoshansky could very well be called the "Father of Plyometrics". He has been the leading researcher and coach most recognized with the spread of Plyometrics, for more information look at any of his works.

Side Box JumpsThe idea of plyometrics is to develop the greatest amount of force in the shortest amount of time. Plyometrics is one of the best ways if not the best way to improve power. Power is similar to strength except you are adding a time factor. Therefore the relation of strength and speed is what we are talking about when we talk about power. A person who can perform a specific resistance movement, such as jumping, bench press etc., the fastest would be said to have more power in that movement. So what we are looking at is not just the contraction of the muscle, but how fast will it contract. It has been shown that a muscle will contract the fastest when it has been loaded. This is why you should be able to jump higher if you crouch down then immediately jump up than if you started in the crouch. It is basically working what is termed a “Stretch Reflex” of the muscle. Plyometrics can help maximize power in the stretching and shortening cycle of a muscle or muscle group. They also promote reflex power through a broader range of motion than most endurance athletes use. The balance and strength aspect of the movements allow for development of optimal efficiency. These exercises also train an athlete to absorb shock better, improving resiliency in the joints and soft tissue. With plyometric training, an athlete is able to sustain repetitive contractions over time, say continuos jumping for a rebound in basketball. You develop strength and power through a broad range of motion, while creating a more versatile muscle and joint. Some exercises include: jumps-in-place, standing jumps, multiple jumps, box drills, depth jumps, bounding, and medicine ball exerc

Some Important Points

- Always warm up and stretch especially the legs.
- Explosive movements are required for optimum results.
- Correct foot placement is essential.
- Adequate recovery between reps can not be stressed enough.
- Use only your body weight when performing plyometric exercises.
- Keep your body balanced.
- Avoid damped landings; use sprung floors, dry grass or an athletic track.

An Example Program for Beginners

Warm Up: An absolute must prior to doing this circuit. Spend 5 –10 minutes working gradually on an exercise bike, or fast walk / light jog. Follow this by a further 5 minutes of skipping, before stretching, especially your quadriceps and calf muscles.
Ricochets: Staying on the balls of your feet, make rapid moves forward keeping your feet together, jumping only a few inches both forward and upwards. Aim for 3 sets of only 5 – 10 meters, with 30 - 60 seconds rest between sets, then walk / light jog for 2 minutes before next exercise..
Alternate Leg Bound: Aim for both good height and distance, using your arms for extra power. Change the leg after each landing, 3-5 sets for 20-30 meters, rest as above.
Double Leg Bound: Aim for both height and forward motion, whilst landing on both feet, (on your toes), explode off again immediately on landing and repeat. Concentrate on your landing, not squatting down to far. Perform 3 – 5 sets of 6 –8 jumps, rest as above.
Skipping: Aim to spend as much time in the air as possible, using your arms to gain extra height. Alternate your leg upon landing, thrusting the leading leg upward towards the chest and slightly forward. Perform 3 sets of 20 – 30 seconds then rest for 30 seconds between sets.
Cool Down: by fast walking, taking long strides, and pushing up with your toes in order to feel a stretch in your calf muscles. Spend at least 10 minutes on stretching your legs, as the muscle fiber’s will certainly feel sore.


Power Training for Sport: Polymerics for Maximum Power Development. Tudor O. Bompa, PhD. Coaching Association of Canada, 1996.
Jumping Into Plyometrics, Don Chu , Human Kinetics, 2nd Edition 1998