To Plyo or not to Plyo


Love them? Hate them?

I have to be honest, for me plyometrics are a total mind f*ck. I mean, by then end of a good plyo sequence, I feel like I am going to die. So in order to do a plyometric workout again I have to trick my mind into believing that I’m not going to die.

For bikini competitors, plyometrics are pretty standard as part of the training program. However, I was really, really tempted to skip them each week because they take a lot of energy, and are pretty hard on my body. That’s when I started to do research to see if they are really worth the torture that I feel they are.

For those of you who don’t know, plyometrics are, plyometrics can be traced to Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky, a Russian scientist who developed the method after observing that Olympians. He called this training “shock method” which incorporated both depth jumps and depth drops. Yuri developed his method in the 60’s and 70’s. Today Plyometrics has come to mean almost any type of training that involves jumps or explosive movements.

I started doing my research to find out how plyometrics impact physique hypertrophy and muscle building. Specifically, I wanted to know if plyometrics would help me in my pursuit to improve my physique.

What I found was this small study showing that plyometrics increases the area of type I & II muscle fibers. I also found this study comparing the effects of resistance training and plyometrics. It found that plyometrics were the best at increasing power, and both resistance training and power were similar in increasing strength and gross muscle size. Finally I found this study comparing a program of only strength training to a program of only plyometrics to a program that incorporated both. What they found was that the program incorporating both strength training and plyometrics worked best at increasing both strength and power.

So in conclusion, it looks like the data supports that plyometrics help build muscle and that the best program is one incorporating both strength training and plyometrics.

Even though I am not a huge fan of doing plyometrics I will continue to incorporate them into my workouts. I find that plyometrics are easier to take if I superset them with a traditional strength training exercise. For example, supersetting squats with high jumps. I also think plyometrics are great for mixing things up or getting an intense workout when you don’t have a lot of time or equipment.

Here is a simple plyometric plan. I usually repeat it circuit style 4-5 time:

  • 15 pop squats
  • 15 switch lunges
  • 15 wide stance jumps holding for 5 seconds at the bottom of each jump.
  • 15 narrow stance jumps
  • 15 frog jumps

Do you do plyometrics? Love them or hate them?