This article is Part 2 in a series on Plyometrics. Part I covered Programming Plyometrics for the Sport of Fitness.
Plyometrics is a category of exercises that I would define as high-powered jump training.
Although I stay within that conceptual framework for the 15 exercises in this article, I would include movements for the upper body as well, just as med-ball slams, rotational hits and flying push-ups. These are basically the equivalent of jumping for the upper body.
I keep the definition of “high power” fairly loose in this article too allow me to include more sport-specific, high-rep bounding elements from the Sport of Fitness (e.g. Double Unders).
As you read, keep in mind there is nothing particularly golden about having a list of exercises if you don’t know how to sequence, layer and build them into a comprehensive program.
After all, that’s why you have a coach.
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Now -without further ado- the countdown.
#15: Split Squat Jump
The beauty of split squats and lunges is that the one hip is extended (open) throughout the movement. The key to jumping, weightlifting, running and most other athletic movements is the ability to express a violent and complete hip extension. This is a great tool to help develop a complete hip extension, and with it athletic prowess.
#14: Squat Box Jump
This is my favorite primer for heavy squats. Most of the time when a person squats, then accelerate out of the bottom and then decelerate again as they reach end range. Adding a jump, requires an acceleration through the entire range, from the bottom through the very top. It teaches your hips to be in the right place in space, which translates to loaded squats.
#13: Dead Man Fall
The first layer in a progression of plyos, this variation has been made famous from Dr. Verkhoshansky who pioneered the Shock Method.
In this exercise, you simply land in an athletic stance from a set height and teach your body to absorb the shock.
Exercises 12 and 11 of this countdown will cover other progressions you can layer to the dead man fall.
#12: Depth Jump
The Depth Jump is essentially the second layer to the dead man fall, and it can be done with or without a pause. Adding a jump requires the athlete to take advantage of the shock created from the fall (eccentric) and translate that into a jump (concentric). If the athlete isn’t able to express complete control over the landing, her body will blunt her ability to jump.
If an athlete is not strong, they will struggle with the dead man fall. If an athlete is not strong and elastic, they will struggle with the depth jump.
#11: Depth Jump + Broad Jump
This variation takes the depth jump and adds yet another layer of complexity. Here, the athlete must be able to control the eccentric and change the direction of the hips to be able to jump horizontally. This exercise combines power, athleticism and precision into one.
#10: Double Unders
The power of specificity is often underrated. If you are an athlete looking to compete in the Sport of Fitness, then you need to be regularly exposing yourself to doses of double unders. For most athletes, the height and power needed to complete double unders is enough to be classified as a plyometric. Yet, for elite athletes moving to harder variations, such as weighted ropes, drag rope or triple unders may be required to make the movement adequately unsustainable.
The biggest thing that determines sustainability in Double Unders is jump height. …and jump height is determined by wrist speed.
#9: Squat Jumps; Rebounding
Jump Squats share all the benefits of the squat box jump, but with no time “wasted” on the reset. With a precise landing, you can go directly into the next rep, the plyometric version of cycling reps: rebounding.
#8: Box Hurdle Jump
One important skill for high box jumps is being able to jump (extension) and then immediately fold back up (flexion) to land deep in a squat on the top of the box. It is the same skill that is needed for Weightlifting; you must finish the pull (extension) before pulling under the bar (flexion) to the catch position.
Hurdles with a two-foot take off help teach the sequencing and timing of this valuable and transferable skill.
#7: Hip Transfer Box Jump
While a near max height box jump or hurdle requires a low landing on the box, this is not advantageous to all box jumps. Three movements (extension and flexion, then extension to standing) is much less efficient than one (extension). This single movement version of the box jump is what I call the Hip Transfer Box Jump. You transfer your hips to the final height in a single motion.
#6: Single Leg Box Jump
This is a more advanced movement that requires a unique combination of hip stability and power. Many people have a difficult time balancing on one foot, let alone producing power in an unstable environment. As with all unilateral exercises, this is a great way to identify and overcome discrepancies between sides of the body.
#5: Broad Jump + Vertical Jump
This is a personal favorite of mine. I love this plyo for two reasons. One, it is extremely high power, making it an excellent potentiation tool. Two, it teaches body awareness because the athlete must manipulate their body to redirect their momentum from horizontal to vertical and back again.
#4: Switch Lunge Jumps
These combine the power of double leg jumping with the therapeutic benefits of unilateral lunge work. This exercise is underrated as a potentiation tool for bilateral strength work (e.g. squatting), which is why I often prescribe this as a primer for cleaning, lunging and sprint work.
#3: Ice Skater Jumps
Lateral movements are certainly one of the Neglected Areas in CrossFit® Training. Bounding and explosive movements are virtually never seen in this plane. That is exactly why even low doses in this exercise elicit a potent training response. This is the top plyometric accessory that I would recommend to CrossFit® athletes.
#2: Box Jump Over
The top two exercises in this countdown are sport-specific movements. Nothing trumps an athlete’s requirements for his or her sport. The Box Jump over is seen frequently in fitness competitions and I believe it’s presence will continue to grow in the future due its ease of standardization. In other words, it’s easy to judge – just get over the box. This aspect is something I talk more about in our Box Jump Over Movement Guide.
#1: The Traditional Box Jump
The box jump is effective. For this reason it is tested in the Sport of Fitness and this is why my athletes see frequent doses of box jumps in their training. There are four variations of the traditional box jump, each with an appropriate use in a given scenario:
V1: Step-Up (if the standard allow for it, but not a plyometric)
V2: Box Jump; Alternating Step Down
V3: Box Jump; Rebounding with Mini Squat
V4: Box Jump; Rebounding High Catch
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