What is Plyometrics?
Plyometrics is a training method designed to improve speed and power through quick and explosive movements.
Speed and power is developed through plyometrics by improving the efficiency of our muscle contractions. The faster our brain and body can activate all the muscle fibers needed for the given exercises the more power and speed we can express.
All plyometrics are based on the Stretch-Shortening cycle (SSC, often referred to “pre-stretch” or “Countermovement”)
When performing most dynamic movements our muscles will first be stretched eccentrically before they contract. This principle of eccentric into concentric movement is what we know as the Stretch Shortening cycle.
Some of the main mechanics responsible for the benefits of the SSC are “Storage of Elastic Energy” and the “Neurophysiological Model”.
- Storage of Elastic energy is basically the principle of stretching a rubber band. As the band lengthens/stretches there is build-up of stored energy and as we let go of the band it quickly contracts back to its normal state.
- Neurophysiological model explains that when a muscle is forcefully lengthened, an increased recruitment of motor units leads to an increase in concentric force output which enhances performance.
Why should we be doing Plyometrics?
Plyometrics has plenty of benefits and I find it very overlooked in completive CrossFit programming. Here is why you should implement it:
- Increase of power. When enhancing the body’s ability to contract muscles quickly we can develop more power as we express a bigger output in a shorter time span.
- Improved tendon & ligament strength.
- Improved neuromuscular system. A better communication between the brain and muscles.
Relatable examples of benefits from Plyometrics in the sport of CrossFit:
- You can use plyometrics to drive up global muscle tension. I have been using this especially when I have had a low-tension AM session before that, due to the lack of stability globally.
- Increased ability to fire muscles in weightlifting movements especially. By being more powerful through training plyometrics we can increase our ability to express maximum force/output when performing the OLY lifts.
I hope that above article has simplified the complexity of Plyometrics and given you an understanding of why Crossfitters as well as many other sports disciplines would benefit from such training method.
By: Andre Houdet, Performance Coach