Plyometrics build lean muscle without requiring weights
Even if you aren’t familiar with the term, plyometrics are a part of your DNA. Ancient humans definitely needed them for survival, and they were coveted skills at the very first Olympics. Now, they are equally desirable, but for very different reasons.
Plyometrics can help you build lean muscle, ignite your metabolism, and improve your agility level – all without requiring any extra equipment. The secret to their power lies in the lengthening and shortening of the muscle during plyometric movements.
Bottom line? They can help you increase muscle power in an awesome way.
Check out this guide to incorporating plyometrics in your workouts:
Plyometrics are quick, explosive types of movement that can help you burn large amounts of calories in minimal time while also strengthening your muscles.
As a form of body-weight exercise that requires no equipment (other than your own body), plyometric movements have been around virtually forever, although they didn’t start out as “exercise.”
Many familiar exercises can become plyometric movements if you add an explosive burst. To do a plyometric push-up, for instance, once your sternum touches the floor hold your position and breathe for about three seconds, then perform an explosive push upward. You can also try jump squats or jumping on and off a small box.
1. Pile Jumps
“…standing with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out wide, and arms lifted in front of you. Press your knees out over your toes, then explode straight up and land softly.”
2. Squat Push-Ups
“…come into a squat position, drop your hands to the floor, shoot your feet back, and complete one push-up. Hop your feet forward, lift your chest, and repeat.”
3. Deep Mountain-Climbers
“…start at the top of a push-up position and step your right foot to the outside of your right hand. Keeping your core tight, explosively switch feet.”
4. Table Saws
“…starting on your butt with your hands and feet flat on the floor. Press hips up and kick up your left foot as you swing your right hand up and over. Alternate sides.”
Because plyometric exercises are so intense, you should only do two to three sessions a week to give your body time for adequate rest and recovery. And as you exercise, pay attention to proper form and quality of movement over quantity. Certain plyometric movements, such as depth jumping and drop jumping, can exert a force of up to seven times your own bodyweight.
One reason why exercise is sometimes regarded as a real-life fountain of youth is because, when done intensely, it boosts your body’s natural production of human growth hormone (HGH), a synergistic, foundational biochemical that addresses the serious muscle loss and atrophy that typically occurs with aging. However, not all types of exercise boost its production. Your body has three different types of muscle fibers:
- Slow (red, oxygen-rich muscle)
- Fast (also red muscle that oxygenates quickly, but is five times faster than the slow fibers)
- Super-fast (white muscle fibers that contain far less blood and mitochondria)
The super-fast muscle fibers are the only muscle fibers that have any major impact on your production of HGH. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people, including many athletes such as marathon runners, only train using their slow muscle fibers, which can actually cause the super-fast fibers to decrease or atrophy.
It’s important to understand that neither traditionally performed aerobic cardio nor conventional strength training will work anything but your slow muscles. Power training with plyometrics will engage your fast muscle fibers, but still will not affect HGH production to any great degree.