Which of the following exercises is a plyometric activity?
Box Jumps (starting on the ground)
Box Jumps (starting on the top)
All of the above
None of the above
I could give you the answer right now, but I won’t. I wanted to discuss what a plyometric is first. We will see later if you change your previous answer.
A plyometric (plyo) is the act of elongating or stretching a muscle then rapidly contracting it.
We talked about how to get stronger faster using eccentric versus concentric exercises. This exercise technique combines both types of muscle firing patterns. The elongation of the muscle is the eccentric portion, and the contraction(shortening) is the concentric portion.
Notice the order of these two events; elongation (stretching) then contraction (shortening). You first have to stretch the muscle then shorten it.
The correct answer is Box jumps (starting on top). Many personal trainers or weight lifting coaches have box jumps as part of their workout routine. However, if you are starting from the bottom, this is just jump trining and NOT a Plyo. A good technique plyo starts from the top of the box, lands and then ends back on the top of the box! This does not mean that box jumps, starting on the ground, is a bad exercise it just doesn’t train your body to maximize the effectiveness of the plyometric workout technique.
When you land from jumping you get a huge eccentric contraction. This contraction is responsible for decelerating, slowing, your body down. After the deceleration comes the jump, or the rapid concentric activity.
On a normal box jump you contract your muscles first then you land, causing the eccentric activity. This is backwards hence the title “Scirtemoylp.” Most of the time when we do plyometric activities we are doing them backwards. There are occasions where the middle of the exercise is a plyometric activity, for example if you were to do 5 box jumps in a row. This would give you 4 plyometric work outs and 1 jumping working out. The key would be to focus on the landing then exploding. If you focused on just the jumping part, then you didn’t do any plyo exercises you just trained jumping, which isn’t a bad thing.
I also wanted to mention that this activity can and should be used when training the upper body. The key is remember elongate then contract. So for a bicep curl. You would START with you bar already curled. You would lower it, getting that stretch, then once your arms are completely extended you would curl as fast as you can. This is a great exercise for people who are training to do pull-ups, like military people, or even swimmers.
You can use the other activities, jump roping and hop scotch to incorporate the plyometric activity into your workout. The key is once you land go deeper. Go into a deep squat then jump back up. Trying to plyometrically train your calves in jump roping would be challenging, but you could use the edge of stairs, just be careful not to slip.
I see people doing Scirtemoylp all the time and I really wanted to address this issue. I think plyos are an incredible exercise and we should do more of them, properly. So the next time you exercise elongate the muscle and then fire it as fast as possible.
Try this exercise out the next time you are in the gym or standing around waiting at the mall and let me know how it goes for you.