Plyometric exercise is described as explosive movements in which your muscles exert maximum force in the shortest period of time. Think: Squat jumps, box jumps and kickboxing kicks. These high intensity exercises burn fat and train your fast-twitch muscle fibers, beneficial for speed and power.
Plyometric exercise is widely used by athletes in team and individual sports, but has gained popularity among gym-goers looking to reap impressive results. A study by Recil et al. (2015) supports the suggestion that plyometric exercise and HIIT are better together. The study found that the combination of plyometric training with HIIT was more beneficial to improving weight loss and metabolic abnormalities in young obese females than HIIT on its own. By pairing HIIT with plyometric movements, you get the best of both worlds by training your strength and conditioning simultaneously.
Benefits of Plyometric Exercise
Plyometric exercise is beneficial in a number of ways. Since it focuses on increasing the strength of your fast-twitch muscles, it works to improve strength and build muscle in your upper and lower body. Plyometric exercise is also the perfect fat-burning tool because you’re using explosive bodyweight movements to exert maximum force in a short time period. Your heart rate stays elevated the entire time you’re exercising, so you burn more calories, even after you’re done working out. Plus, it decreases your chances of injury because it trains your body to produce force more effectively.
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The Warm Up
Warming up before plyometric exercise is key to an effective workout. Your warm up should prime your body for the upcoming workout and complement the plyometric movements you’ll be performing. For instance, if you plan to do jump squats and plyometric lunges, warm up with skipping and low-intensity lunges. These less intense activities mimic what you’re going to do, and get your body prepared for the workout. Low-intensity cardio is also beneficial, especially when pairing plyometric exercise with HIIT. Perform five to ten minutes of warm up exercises like knee hugs, butt kicks and light jogging.
Plyometric exercises target specific muscle groups, but continuously fatiguing the same muscles can hinder your workout performance and can also be quite dangerous. Create a HIIT plyometric circuit where you train different body parts throughout. For example, circuit between explosive medicine ball sit ups, front box jumps, ball slams and jumps lunges. These four exercises independently work the muscles in your abs, legs and arms so you don’t exhaust yourself. A plyometric HIIT session shouldn’t go beyond 30 to 45 minutes due to its strenuous nature.
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Think like An Athlete
Your mental focus during a plyometric HIIT workout is just as important as your physical exertion. Make sure to mentally prepare for the explosive movements and focus on your technique to avoid injury. Never sacrifice form for quantity; you must recognize when your technique has lost its form and be willing to take a break if your body can’t handle it. Your body can only go as far as your mind can take it.
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Racil, G., Zouhal, H., Elmontassar, W., Abderrahmane, A.B., De Sousa, M.V., Chamari, K. Amri, M., and Coquart, J.B. (2015). Plyometric Exercise Combines with High Intentensity Interval Training Improves Metabolic Abnormalties in Young Obese Females More So Than Interval Training Alone. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 41(1): 103-109.