Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Plyometrics: An important exercise

Plyometrics is basically any exercise that involves a dynamic shift from the absorption of force to the expression of force. A typical example would be two consecutive bunny (two-footed) jumps. On landing from the first jump the muscles of the legs, calves and ankles would be put on stretch (this is technically known as an ‘eccentric contraction’). They then transfer power, by way of a shortening muscular contraction (technically known as a ‘concentric contraction’).

Because sports science research proves that muscles are able to exert much more force when they perform plyometrically. It’s a bit like pulling out a spring to its fullest length and then letting it go. Immense amounts of energy will be released in the split second the spring recoils. Significant improvements are achieved by (1) boosting muscle and tendon strength, and (2) improving the neuromuscular activation of the response (basically, our brain becomes better at co-ordinating what is required).

Although our body naturally performs the plyometric action when required, this does not mean that our response cannot be improved. In fact the right training programmes can significantly boost both our power and speed i.e. dynamic performance.

Dangers of Plyometrics:
Because plyometrics is often misunderstood – or performed incorrectly – if one don’t know exactly which exercises to perform, and how to integrate them into his existing training programme, then he unlikely to derive any benefit. Even worse – he could injure himself.

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