Plyometrics is an advanced form of exercise in which muscles are stretched and then forcefully contracted. Training with plyometric equipment can provide substantial improvements in the jump heights and running speeds of athletes. This type of training, which usually involves different forms of resisted jumping and running, is an effective way to increase explosive strength. Coaches and trainers often utilize plyometrics with their athletes, and many plyometric devices are available to maximize these workouts.
Plyometric Jump Box
Plyometric jump boxes are useful devices for power training. Boxes of different heights are arranged in a row, from shortest to tallest. Athletes then jump onto and down from each box, increasing intensity as they move down the row. Plyometric jumps were analyzed for a 2010 study in "The Sport Journal." Research participants who trained using plyometric jump boxes showed significant increases in lower-body power, which led to improved vertical jumps, broad jumps and 30-meter sprints.
Speed hurdles provide a great workout to increase agility and jumping power. These short hurdles have a maximum height of 12 inches and are usually set up in a row of five to six. The object of speed-hurdle training is for athletes to move down the row, jumping over each hurdle as quickly as possible. While traditional hurdles and plyometric jump boxes emphasize jump height, speed hurdles increase explosive endurance by requiring users to perform the same jump repeatedly.
The Vertimax is a sport-specific training device designed to increase power production. Users stand on the shock-absorbing board and strap their waist and hands to elastic bands, which are attached it. The Vertimax allows athletes to practice different resisted movements through several planes of motion. A 2008 study in the "Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research" analyzed athletes who used the Vertimax one to two days a week for resisted jump training. Over the course of 12 weeks, users increased lower-body power to improve running speed and jumping height.
Speed Resistance Trainer
You can increase speed, power and strength through functional-resistance workouts on a speed-resistance trainer. Two types of these devices exist -- one requires a partner to create resistance and the other uses a pulley attached to a stationary object. The exerciser straps a harness around her chest; a rope connects the exerciser to a partner or the pulley. The exerciser then runs forward and pulls the rope as her partner or the pulley offers resistance. A benefit of the pulley-speed resistance trainer is that athletes can adjust the level of resistance, giving them the opportunity to dial in specific resistance levels.
- AceFitness.org: Plyometrics: Controlled Impact/Maximum Power
- Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research; The Effectiveness of Resisted Jump Training on the VertiMax in High School Athletes; Matthew Rhea, Mark Peterson et al.
- The Sport Journal; Home Effects of Three Modified Plyometric Depth Jumps and Periodized Weight Training on Lower Extremity Power; Andrew Damon, John Kovaleski et al.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; A Comparison of Plyometric Training Techniques for Improving Vertical Jump Ability and Energy Production; Daniel Gehri et al.
- Power Plyometrics; Ed McNeely & David Sandler
- Physiological Aspects of Sport Training and Performance; Jay Hoffman
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.