Plyometric exercises combine strength training and cardio in a full-body workout. Commonly called “plyo,” the exercise includes intense drills that build muscle, stability and strength. Plyo moves have been relied upon by fitness professionals for years to build athletic speed and power. Even if you're a beginner, however, you can use these exercises to boost fitness at home or at the gym.
Jumping in Place and Standing Jumps
During plyo workouts, exercisers often jump in the air and land in the same place. Examples of plyo exercises that use this principle are tuck jumps, squat jumps, pike jumps and other vertical jumps. Standing jumps can focus on either vertical or horizontal movement and include maximal vertical jumps, lateral long jumps and standing long jumps.
Multiple Hops and Jumps and Box Drills
Many plyo exercises involve multiple hops and jumps, including successions of cone hops or multiple long jumps. Box drills are performed using elevated surfaces, such as special boxes, for jumping. The exerciser may perform single leg box jumps, standard double leg box jumps or repeated box jumps.
Also known as drop jumps, depth jumps are performed by jumping from one elevated surface to a lower point. Examples of drop jumps include jumping from a plyo box to the floor or jumping from a bench to the ground. These moves are often combined with other exercises, such as jumping vertically or sprinting after landing.
The Upper Body
Although many plyo exercises focus on jumping, some exercises target the upper body. These include clap pushups, one-arm pushups, one-armed throws with a medicine ball, twist throws, plank shuffles and medicine ball chops. Adding these moves to a plyo routine makes it a full-body workout.
Gauging Plyometric Intensity
A full-body plyometric workout utilizes all the major muscle groups and maintains a significant level of intensity. Understanding the level of intensity of plyo moves is important when planning a full-body workout to maximize all the body's muscle groups. Single leg exercises are more intense than those performed using both legs. For example, single leg jumps require more energy than double leg jumps. The height of jumps is one of the most significant indicators of intensity. Jumping higher during plyo moves equals more intensity. Reaching the arms overhead also increases the intensity of jumps during plyometric workouts.
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.