6 Plyometric Exercises to Add Some Fire to Any Workout

Fitness

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Jump around. Jump around. Jump up, jump up, and get down! These are the lyrics to a classic 1990s anthem, yes — but they’re also a pretty accurate description of what a plyometric workout is like.

Plyometric exercises typically “have an explosive element to them,” says Tiffany Ragozzino, a certified fitness trainer. They “involve rapid, powerful movements designed to improve your muscle power. You may also hear them referred to as plyo or jump training. They focus on our fast-twitch muscles (the muscles necessary for power performance), which involve maximum force in short intervals of time.” Think: high knees, jumping jacks, and squat jumps.

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Tiffany Ragozzino is a certified fitness trainer, a PE and health educator, and the founder of The Pretty Little Lifters.

The Benefits of Plyometric Exercises

There’s no way around it: plyometric exercises are hard. They’re one of the best ways to raise your heart rate, and fast. By their very nature, they’ll leave you exhausted, sore, and sweaty. So why does anyone do them? Well, they have some pretty powerful benefits, such as increasing power, building strength, and improving coordination, agility, and balance. “Plyometrics can increase your power output since they help you jump higher, run faster, and combine speed and strength,” Ragozzino says.

They also train your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which tend to shrink and become less functional with age. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are the ones you recruit when you need to quickly move or change direction without falling. The short bursts of explosive movement characteristic of plyo exercises make sure they’re engaged and can help prevent the age-related losses, which in turn can help to prevent falls and increase longevity.

“Another less thought-of benefit is that plyometrics improves bone density [and] can help to reduce your risk of osteoporosis,” Ragozzino says. While it may seem counterintuitive to say that explosive movements strengthen your bones, it’s true: the force caused by plyo exercises travels through your bones, and that stress can stimulate bone growth.

What to Know About Plyometric Exercises Before Starting

Plyometric exercises do tend to be a little more high impact by nature. That doesn’t mean they can be modified, but doing so may require getting a little creative. “If someone is unable to jump due to physical or injury restrictions, there are other options to get plyometrics training in. You can focus on building your power and explosiveness in a modified way,” Ragozzino tells PS.

For example, instead of jumping, you could keep the power but only lift your heels off of the ground, or work through the move at a faster pace. But when it comes to plyo moves, it’s essential to talk to a doctor or personal trainer before trying them for the first time, especially if you have physical limitations.

The Best Plyometric Exercises

When narrowing down a list of the best plyometric exercises, we focused on moves that could be modified to suit a variety of abilities and they were accessible to all fitness levels. We came up with these six.

If you’re a plyo newbie, try adding just one or two to your usual workout at first, starting with just a few reps and working your way up once you nail the form. If you’re more conditioned, you can string these six exercises together for a full plyometric workout. Either way, these six plyometric exercises can help you build power, speed, and agility, all while getting your heart rate up to boot.

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