This is part two of a two-part plyometric training series. Make sure to check out the previous article to get the basics of plyometric training before reading this!
Plyometrics should be programmed similar to your power movements (squats, cleans, snatches). I typically don’t program them more than 5 reps in a given set. The goal is to get MAX HEIGHT for a lot of these movements. The more reps you do, the harder it is for you to reach that height.
If you have a beginner who is just learning how to jump, you probably don’t need to put them on a periodized program. They will be making improvements every session with the power ability. Sometimes putting beginners on a detailed program can limit their progression as an athlete. For these people, I would start them out by keeping their volume the same. Since their ability to generate power will increase the intensity will naturally increase each time. If they just higher, the intensity is higher.
Beginners can start with a simple 3×5 or 5×5 model. I would start them jumping onto a box. Jumping onto a box is actually much easier on the joints and connective tissue than jumping in the air and landing on the ground. By starting on a box, they can learn proper landing mechanics before landing on the ground. As they progress, you can decrease the height of the box or start introducing depth jumps. That’s right I said DECREASE the height.
Decreasing the box height is actually harder for the athlete. The higher the box is, the less eccentric forces that are placed on the connective tissues in the landing. The higher you fall, the higher amount of eccentric forces that are placed on the connective tissues. The lower you fall, the less. This is why depth jumps are more advanced than normal counter movement jumps.
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If you have an athlete that is intermediate of above, a periodized approach will be a better to fit their season and allow them to better adapt to the stress. This should be done the same way as strength and power movements are programmed.
Start with a month or two of high volume, short rest between sets. Multiple sets of 4-6 jumps seem to work well with this.
The next month or two give them more time between attempts and drop the number of jumps to 3-5 reps. You can have them do more sets but they should be falling farther with these jumps. The goal is to begin to load the connective tissues more and more each month until you have the athlete begin a peaking phase.
The last month you can really be testing your athletes with deep depth jumps by doing 1-3 reps for multiple sets. Adequate rest must be given for the body to recover. Treat these like max snatch or clean and jerk attempts. You want at least 1-2 minutes of rest between sets/reps.
Options for Progressions
As your athlete improves their ability to jump, it is important to make the movements harder. Again, the height at which one FALLS is what makes plyometric training hard, NOT the height jumped to.
It will be harder on your connective tissue to fall off a box than to jump up to a high box (assuming good mechanics are achieved).
There are plenty of ways to increase the difficulty of the jumps. Here are a few that I recommend:
- Progress from jumping up to a box to jumping in place with no box. Prisoner jumps or jumping over hurdles are harder than box jumps.
- Depth jumps. Instead of jumping up to a box, fall off a box and then jump as high as you can or to another small box. The higher the box you fall from, the larger the eccentric force that will be applied to your connective tissues.
- Decrease the amount of time spent on the ground. Land stiff and get off the ground as fast as possible. If you land softly in a squat position, there will be less forces placed into the connective tissue.
- Land on a harder surface. If you are used to jumping on a gym mat, if you do jumps on wood or concrete, that will increase the forces put into the connective tissues. This also applied to types of shoes. Soft shoes will be easier than barefoot.
- Adding a horizontal direction into the mix. Change of directions is another way to load the connective tissues. If you have an athlete that has lots of change of direction, this is strongly recommended.
Plyometric train is fun! It is a way to improve speed, power, and strength. It allows you to keep some load off the spine and still increase lower body function. If you have a strength athlete battling an injury, these are a great alternative. I love throwing these in there as well as sled, prowler work, and hill sprints.
I hope this helps! Enjoy giving some of these principles a go!
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