How to progress your plyometric training
This is a sequel to our previous blog 'What is plyometric training and why should you be doing it?' - if you haven't read it yet, click here. In this particular blog, we will be talking about appropriately progressing plyometric exercises.
In life, we learn to crawl before we walk, and we walk before we run. Strength training, cardiovascular training and, you guessed it, plyometric training, is much the same - it needs to be progressed appropriately. Going from doing nothing to doing a lot, every day, or placing your body under high impacts that it isn't ready for, is a great way to end up hurting yourself (all you sporadic runners out there with shin splints probably know what I'm talking about).
In terms of plyometric progression if you're starting at point zero, the initial focus should be on eccentric force absorption, in other words, learning how to decelerate/land properly. A plane needs to know how to land before it takes off into the sky, much like a ferrari would be pretty unsafe without any brakes! So, before you delve into the more advanced end of the plyometric continuum (barbell loaded jumps, depth jumps etc), start with the basics first.
The basic end of the continuum would include things like tall to short landings and low box drops (see our old instagram videos for examples) to train force absorption and practise good landing mechanics. To help build tissue capacity/elasticity, basic plyometric exercises like pogo's would be suitable. Even something like skipping, which is essentially the same as doing low-level pogo's, are an underrated warm up tool to improve these qualities. From here, once these basics have been practised and nailed, you should then look to build your rate of force development through basic jumps like low box jumps/squat jumps.
Supplementing this exposure of low level plyometric drills with strength work is the best way to help progress you along the continuum and improve your athleticism. Gaining lower body strength (quads, for example, are huge contributors to deceleration in running/jumping), practising eccentric/tempo work and exposing yourself to the plyometric basics will do wonders for your body's ability to tolerate greater loads. This should also be a consideration for those of you finding yourselves with constant niggles after a period of running - are you ticking these boxes? If not, maybe it's time to start!
A basic plyometric progression continuum might look like this:
Linear: straight line - e.g. jumping forwards or backwards
Multi-directional: including lateral/rotational jumps and landings
Double leg: including landing/jumping/skipping etc.
Single leg: including landing/jumping/hopping/bounding etc.
Extensive: low level, less taxing, repeatable - eg pogo's and skipping
Intensive: high impact/intensity, more taxing and less repeatable - eg depth jumps, continuous high hurdle jumps, heavy loaded jumps
An example starting point could be as simple as:
- A) Pogo's 2x20
- B) Tall to short landings (double leg) 2x10
x 2-3 exposures per week for a minimum of 3 weeks (alongside regular strength work)
Give it a try and see how you go!