Plyometric exercise training and improving balance, coordination and other motor skills through proprioception is one of the fastest growing areas of core training. Try adding plyometric exercise training to your bag of tricks and see for yourself.
What is Plyometrics and how can you benefit from a plyometric exercise training program?
Plyometrics and plyometric exercise training programs are exploding from cult status to a necessity because it zeroes in on two missing links to modern day athletics - Sport specific core training and proprioception.
Plyometrics is the activity of rapid alternation of lengthening and shortening of specific muscle groups while resistance is continuously being applied to them. This lengthening and shortening cycle when performed in rapid succession allows the muscles to store some of the lost energy in the lengthening phase for use during the contraction phase.
The faster your muscles can perform this lengthening and shortening with resistance cycle, the more powerful your movements become. Strength + Minimal Time Factor = Power. That's the science of Plyometrics.
I could go into the scientific jargon of concentric and eccentric muscle contraction, but you will probably become as confused as I was as to which is which.
The benefit is deadly power, but other benefits also kick-in; strength, speed, agility, along with muscle memory and even endurance. Once you start using these plyometric training exercises, you will quickly find out why I have also mentioned agility and endurance.
Training in slow motion conditions your muscles to move in slow motion. Plyometric training injects speed into muscle memory with the value added benefits of power and agility
What is Proprioception?
Proprioception is often referred to as the sixth sense. Proprioception allows you to sense the positioning of parts of the body in relation to other parts of the body. Without proprioception you would not be able to put a forkful of food in your mouth, walk or swing a baseball bat without visually watching your limbs doing it.
There is a lot of misinformation about proprioception. Proprioception is not a skill, it’s a sense… much the same as the sense of smell is not a skill.
Proprioception is your body’s enabler for learning and perfecting motor skills like balance and coordination. Proprioception allows you to improve coordination and balance through repetitive drilling… and nailing it all down as muscle memory.
Have you ever heard the expression once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget how? That's proprioception at work. Once a task is learned, it's programmed into body movements automatically as motor skills through muscle memory.
In other words, it enables you to remove the thought process. You don't think about it, you just do it.
Plyometric Exercise Training and Proprioception
The Vew-Do Balance Board Plyometric Training Exercises I’ve developed are easy to master and will have a radical effect on your core training. Many of these exercises were also designed as sport specific training drills to help perfect motor skills through proprioception.
Many of the exercises in this program are sport specific. The exercises movements mimic real-world actions. They transform them from just exercises to sport specific drills that helps develop muscle memory through proprioception.
Which sports benefit from plyometrics and plyometric training programs?
Just about any athletic activity or rehabilitation program would benefit from some form of Plyometric exercise training, but I’ll break the benefits down into two specific groups: Active or Dynamic Resistance and Passive or Static Resistance. Active resistances are outside forces with continuously changing levels of tension. Passive resistances are outside forces that remain relativly constant.
The list of active resistance sports includes wrestling, football, rugby, boxing, martial arts and related combat sports.
Some of the other sports include Football, Boxing, Rugby, Martial Arts, Swimming, Power Lifting, Gymnastics and some Track and Field events like the Shot-Put, Pole Vaulting and even Tennis.
The list of passive resistance sports includes most team sports like basketball, baseball, soccer and lacrosse, skiing, snowboarding, cycling, surfing and track and field events.
This plyometric exercise training program comes with a couple of warnings though... First, plyometric training exercises are not for couch potatoes or weekend warriors. Paticipants should be at an advanced level of health and physical fitness before jumping into plyometrics.
Second…They are not warm-up exercises. Do not even attempt to try plyometric training exercises until your body is sufficiently stretched out and warmed up.
The exercises in this program are design to be performed using a Vew-Do Balance Board and Vew-Do's Plyomeric Rock Training System shown below.
How to set up a Vew-Do Balance Board for Plyometric Training Exercises
Setting up your Vew-Do Balance Board for plyometric training is easy. First, find a place clear of large objects like furniture, walls and pieces of exercise equipment. To reduce the impact on joints like knees, ankles and shoulders, use an exercise area with carpeting or some other dense cushioning material like a wrestling, yoga or exercise mat.
Using 2 plyometric training rocks (aka teeter rocks) place the rocks (flat side to the floor) at stop ends of the Vew-do Balance Board sub-deck. Be sure that the Board’s center rail fits snuggly in the slots of the teeter rock and up against the stops at each end of the board….Ta da…..you’re done! Let’s rock n’ roll…
Vew-Do Balance Board Lateral Pancake Board Jumps
None of these exercises can be considered warm-ups, but pancake box jumps are the closest thing you’ll see to a warm-up exercise in Plyometrics. The term “pancake” is derived from the fact that the balance board lays on a flat surface like a pancake. You don’t use the Vew-Do plyometric training rocks for this exercise.
Stand alongside the center of the board facing the vertical length of it. Slightly coil your legs and jump laterally to the other side of the board, repeating this motion from one side to the other. This is a speed burner. The trick to perfecting this exercise to take just enough air to clear the board before coiling your legs for the next jump. After landing, spend as little amount of time on the ground as possible.
Another variation to this is the Vertical Pancake Board Jump. Stand alongside the center of the board, but face horizontally across it. Coil up, jump vertically across the board to the other side and then jump back to your original position. Remember that you’re looking to increase foot speed, so limit the amount of air you take on the jumps. You want just enough to clear the board on landing and prepare for the next jump.
Sport Specific Benefit – Low-impact Plyometric exercise for developing power and increasing foot speed. This exercise is effective for every physical activity including rehabilitation.
Vew-Do Balance Board Lateral Box Jumps - Now we’ll start to get into some serious plyometric training. The box jump is a simple yet effective plyometric exercise. The term “box” is used because this exercise is commonly done using a wooden box. There are lots of fancy box jumping apparatus on the market; usually the only benefit is increased height. The problem is, about the only other thing you can use them for other than plyometrics is possibly doubling them as a seat or a snack table.
Stand alongside the center of the board facing the vertical length of it. Slightly coil your legs and jump laterally onto the board, bend your knees, coil and jump off the board on the opposite side. Reverse the sequence of floor, to board, to floor again returning to your starting position.
This is a speed exercise. You’ll need to add some air to your jump to make it onto the board and remember to keep your feet close together. Try to use as little time as possible to land and prepare for the next jump. The 3 step sequence of the box jump will also help your coordination, muscle memory and endurance.
Vew-Do Balance Board Vertical Box Jumps - Stand alongside the center of the board, but face horizontally across it. Coil up, jump onto the board, bend your knees, coil and jump off the board to the opposite side.
Continue facing the same direction after your landing. Reverse the sequence by jumping backwards onto the board, bend your knees, coil and jump backwards again off the board to your starting position.
Sport Specific benefit – Increased power and foot speed is an almost universal benefit, but is critical for the following athletes because it adds balance and agility. Football players, boxers, wrestlers, soccer players, surfers, skiers, snowboarders, skateboarders and martial arts.
Vew-Do Balance Board Carving Jumps – Do you often need to change your body position laterally? How about being able to do it with more quickness, power and agility? If your sport requires aggressive lateral movement, this plyometric carving jump exercise will help you kick-in that extra split-second burst of power. The added benefit is balance training.
Stand at one end of the board facing horizontally across it. Coil and jump laterally onto the center of the board. Immediately coil and continue jumping laterally off the board to the other end. Continue facing the same direction and reverse your jumping direction back onto the board. Immediately jump again laterally off the board to your original position. Spend as little time as possible on the floor or the board. The goal is to develop a short quick carving technique.
Sport Specific benefit – Any sport where carving and lateral movement is important. This includes all your board sports like snowboarding, skiing, skate and wake boarding as well as surfing and skating. Also helpful for soccer and football players especially positions where you need quick lateral movement. Running backs, receivers, defensive backs and linebackers are the beneficiaries.
Vew-Do Balance Board Grand Amplitude Carving Jumps – This is where the rubber meets the road. “Grand Amplitude” in wrestling is quickly elevating your opponent and taking them from their feet to their back in a wide arc. This exercise requires the same wide arc and will hone your carving ability along with some serious balance, agility and endurance skills.
Using the same body position as the carving jump, keep your feet together, coil your legs and jump laterally in a wide arc across the length of the board. Adjust your body position in mid-air to absorb the impact of the landing and to position yourself for the next jump. Make sure you use enough power and get enough air to clear the entire length of the board. Landing should be done cleanly and without any hopping or extra steps.
Immediately coil your legs and jump the length of the board to your original position. Land cleanly and prepare to jump to the other side of the board. The key to performing this exercise correctly is your old friend proprioception. You must change your body positioning in mid-air to have the ability to land cleanly without any extra steps.
Sport Specific Benefit – Any athlete that needs powerful lateral changes in body position. Skiers, snowboarders, surfers, skateboarders, hockey and figure skaters. Running backs, receivers, defensive backs and linebackers in football. Soccer players, wrestlers and gymnasts.
Vew-Do Balance Board Diamondback Jumping Jacks – I call these “Diamonds backs” because the foot postioning resembles the four corners of an imaginary diamond. This is one of the harder exercises for coordination. I suggest walking through this exercise slowly at first to develop some muscle memory before you step it up to full speed.
Stand alongside the center of the board, but face horizontally across it. Coil up, jump onto the board. After landing on the board, jump up vertically and land spread eagle with your legs on the outside of each end of the board. (You can cheat a little by landing on the same side of the board as you started, but spread your legs as far as you can.) Jump back onto the board with your feet together.
The next move is to jump forward in front of the board. Then jump backwards back onto the board with your feet together. Jump up vertically again and land spread eagle with your legs across the length of the board. Jump back onto the board with your feet together and then jump backwards off the board to your original starting position. You can enhance the effectiveness of this exercise by raising your arms above your head during the spread eagle jumps, just like a regular jumping jack.
This exercise requires coordination, balance and muscle memory. You’ll feel a little awkward until you get the sequence mastered, but you’ll appreciate the results.
Sport Specific benefit – Any sport that requires balance, coordinated foot movements and speed. Best examples are soccer, wrestling, hockey and figure skating, martial arts and boxing.
Vew-Do Balance Board Extreme Squat Thrusts – This exercise takes the classic squat thrust and adds an aerial component along with additional arm movement. Don’t be fooled by the looks of this. You’ll feel some serious arm burn doing these.
Squat down and face across the board. Place both hands down on the board, shoulder length apart. The first move is to uncoil your body and assume a push-up position. Coil up and return to your starting position.
While facing the same direction, jump up onto the board while raising your arms above your head. As soon as you land on the board, immediately jump up again, jumping slightly backwards off the board while raising your arms above your head and return to the original squat position. Repeat the cycle.
Sport Specific Benefit – This is an all-around plyometric training exercise. It works the legs, abs, and arms. Best bet for full body sports like gymnastics, wrestling, martial arts and swimming.
Vew-Do Balance Board Vertical Riot Bomb Push-Ups – How about a plyometric exercise carved from a modified “jailhouse” push-up. Forget about clap or Japanese style push-ups. They’re no comparison to this street-tough arm burner. Don’t try this exercise if you have any shoulder or rotator cuff problems.
Assume the standard push-up position, facing across the board with your arms shoulder length apart and the board in front of you. Coil down and push up quickly using the spring in your arms to get enough air to land on the board.
Perform another push-up, this time landing with your arms in front of the board. Reverse the sequence backwards onto the board again and finish the cycle with another push-up off the board and return to your starting position. Make sure you absorb the landings by bending at the elbows to relieve the impact strain on the shoulders.
If you ate your “Wheaties” you can try this variation of the Vertical Riot Bomb. Skip the push-up onto the board and vault your arms across it. Be aware that you’ll need enough air to clear the board and land on the other side. Reverse the sequence and vault back to the starting position.
Sport Specific Benefit – Any sport which requires straight ahead, powerful arm thrusts to create separation between you and your opponent or another object. Best bet for boxing, shot-put, gymnastics, wrestling, martial arts, defensive and offensive linemen in football to name a few.
Vew-Do Balance Board Lateral Riot Bomb Push-Ups – This exercise adds lateral movement to a standard push-up and something else. It requires you to torque your mid-section during the push-up phase. With some sports, it’s all about pushing people or objects around. That requires powerful arm thrusts while simultaneously using torque from your hips and abs. Stay away from this exercise if you have rotator cuff or shoulder problems.
Face your body along the vertical length of the board, with your shoulders lined up with the center and take a close-hand push-up position. Coil down into your push-up. As you vault up onto the board, torque your hips slightly to change your arm position and land on the board with your hands.
coil into another push-up from the board, and torque your hips to land on the opposite side of the board. Reverse the sequence and the hip torque to return to your original position. Make sure you absorb the landings by bending at the elbows to relieve the impact strain on the shoulders.
Another variation of this exercise is to skip the push-up onto the board and just arm-hop from one side of the board to the other. May the force be with you on that one.
Sport Specific Benefit – Here’s a partial list sports that could benefit from lateral riot bombs. Pole vaulting, wrestling, offensive and defensive linemen in football, shot-put, discus, hammer-throw, javelin and gymnastics.
Vew-Do… “Balance Without Limits" ™
By: Rick Contrata