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Plyometric Exercises: 6 Moves for Strength and Agility

Plyometric Exercises

Plyometrics are crazy-tough. Endless burpees, jump squats, and speed skaters are enough to make anyone feel ill, but that’s precisely why you need to be doing them - they will train your body to be stronger, faster, more coordinated, and more agile than any other type of training. 

Even non-athletes have come to that dreaded gym class - burpee day. We know that plyometrics can be challenging, but they can work your body like no other. 

Plyometrics train your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which get ignored if you’re focused on slow, steady workouts without sprints or sudden bursts of energy.

It’s essential to improve your performance by training both slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers in your entire body. That's exactly why we’ve built a short, simple routine that uses resistance bands to build even more strength and balance - include it in your training regimen 2-3 times per week, and you’ll see your performance, no matter the sport you practice!

What is Plyometric Exercise?

  • Plyometric exercises are intense, aerobic moves that help build strength, explosiveness, agility, and speed. 
  • How? Plyometric moves are fast - they make your muscles stretch and contract rapidly, helping your body become stronger and more reactive in all athletic facets.
  • Plyometric exercises for speed help strengthen your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which help generate high force in short bursts - think sprints, not long-distance running.
  • While slow, steady exercise trains your slow-twitch, endurance-improving fibers, nothing trains your fast-twitch fibers better than a plyometric workout. 

Benefits of Plyometric Exercise

Here are the top reasons you should incorporate some plyometric exercises into your training regimen:

  • Trains fast-twitch muscle fibers for explosiveness
  • Increases tendon strength to reduce the chance of injury
  • Boosts neuromuscular efficiency to improve reaction times
  • Develops essential sports skills through practice
  • Improves strength in your stretch-shortening cycle, the “wind-up” for your jumps

6 Effective Exercises for Plyometric Training

#1: Banded Jump Squats 

This move is an excellent way to include some jump training techniques with plyometric bands. 

  1. Grab a hip circle or booty band and place it on your lower thighs, just above the knee. 
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend into your knees, hinge at the hip joints, and take a deep squat position.
  3. Push off through the feet and jump into the air, keeping your knees from rolling inward or outward throughout the movement. 
  4. Land your jump softly on bent knees, then repeat. Favor good form over height - you want to go for as much height as possible, but only as far as possible without compromising your form. 

#2: Banded Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are one of the plyometric moves everyone loves to hate, but they’re tough because they’re useful. These climbers will burn out your legs and core while working your upper body. 

  1. Loop a hip circle or small, looped resistance band around the arches of both of your feet. Then, get onto a workout mat in a high plank or push-up position. Place your palms under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from your head to your toes. 
  2. Tuck in your abs to protect and support your lower back.
  3. Draw your right knee up and into your chest while keeping both hips facing down toward the ground. 
  4. Step your right foot back again into the initial plank position. At the same time, bring your left knee up and into your chest. 
  5. Repeat, alternating legs as quickly as possible.

#3: Banded Plank Jacks

We love a good banded plank jack - this explosive move trains almost every muscle in your lower and upper body and builds some serious core strength. 

  1. Loop a mini band or hip circle and place it in two positions. You can wrap the resistance band around both of your lower thighs, just above the knee, or around both ankles.
  2. Start on a workout mat in a high plank or push-up position. Place your hands on the floor under shoulders and toes hip-width apart. Keep your core tucked in to activate your abs and protect your lower back. 
  3. Jump both of your feet out to the sides as far as you can comfortably, 6 to 12” on each side. 
  4. Jump both feet back to your starting position, with your feet hip-width apart. Don’t allow your bum to drop or lift too high; your body should be in a straight line from head to toe. 
  5. Repeat the move. 

#4: Banded Lunge Jumps

Jump lunges are a fantastic way to train balance, coordination, and massive leg strength. 

  1. Place a small, looped resistance band, or a mini band, around the middle of both of your thighs.
  2. Step the right foot forward, and bend both of your knees to 90°, staying up on your back toes. Your right front knee should be in line with the right ankle, not extending over the right toes. Evenly distribute your weight between your front and back foot. 
  3. From this lunge position, press into both feet and jump up. 
  4. Carefully switch the positions of your feet midair, and land in the mirror image of your starting position - your left leg should be a few feet in front of your right with both knees bent to 90°.
  5. Repeat jumps, switching your legs positions with every rep. 

#5: Speed Skaters with Band

This speed skater plyometric move helps push your lower body to its limits and improves leg and glute strength and overall motion range. This is also one of the best resistance band exercises for speed training your lower body. 

  1. Place a small, looped resistance band around both of your ankles, and get into a slightly squatted position. Stand with both feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent in line with your toes, and your weight centered into both heels.
  2. Keeping your knees bent, step your right foot forward on a wide, diagonal lunge out to the right at 45°. 
  3. Then, step forward with your left on a wide, 45° diagonal.
  4. Repeat for 20 steps forward, then turn around and walk 20 steps back. Keep your knees bent throughout the movement - they should never be straight. 

#6: Banded Burpees

This is the most-hated or most-loved plyometric move, depending on who you ask. Either way, these burpees will spike up your heart rate and build muscle strength and endurance over your entire body. 

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with your weight back into your heels, arms at your sides. Place a large, looped resistance band around a beam, with the other end around both of your ankles. Face away from the beam and move far enough away that your band has tension. 
  2. Hinge your hips and bend your knees, lowering into a squat.
  3. Place both of your hands on the ground in front of and slightly inside your hip line. Shift your weight onto your hands.
  4. Jump both of your feet back and land in a plank position. Your body should form a nice straight line from your head to your feet. Tuck in your core to support the line and lower back.
  5. Jump your feet forward to the starting position.
  6. Reach your arms overhead and jump.
  7. Land and lower back into a squat, ready for your next rep. Perform the burpees as quickly as possible while keeping good form. 

Final Notes: Ideal Frequency of Plyometric Training

Since plyometric exercises are such an essential aspect of training, you’ll want to include them into your routine as regularly as possible to see significant improvements and results. 

Include plyometric training into your routine at least 2x per week, and ideally 3x! Train plyometrics on opposite days to avoid overstressing the joints and muscles with these high impact moves. 

We promise these moves will get easier with time!

Katherine Holden

Katherine Holden

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