If you do not know what plyometrics is, no doubt you soon will. Fitness classes across the country are incorporating this advanced training technique. Typically, elite athletes have used this training to push themselves to the next level, such as jumping higher or exploding out of the starting blocks. But can recreational athletes use this training? If so, how should they modify it to fit their needs?

A Little Controversy  

Elite athletes, including professional and Olympic athletes, have used plyometric training for decades to increase their sports performance. Recreational athletes may need to approach this technique with caution. Although several guidelines have been proposed, there is nothing in place at this time to determine the ideal quantity or intensity of plyometric training.

So should you do plyometrics? It depends on your goals. If you are a recreational athlete who has no desire to compete or increase performance in any particular sport, you may not benefit from plyometrics. But if you have specific, sports-related goals, talk with a qualified trainer about adding plyometrics to your training. Before you do anything, though, understand the basics about plyometrics so that you stay safe and injury-free.

A Simple Example  

You may not know exactly what plyometrics is, but without knowing it, you have probably done plyometric moves. Plyometrics is defined as enabling a muscle to reach maximal force in the shortest possible time. Pretend, for example, that you are trying to reach a book on a top shelf. You are going to jump for it, so you squat down a little and then you leap up to reach the book. That is plyometrics.

In its simplest terms, plyometrics means moving from a grounded position and exploding. It can also be seen in everyday movements like hopscotch, jump rope, or jumping jacks. You could also begin from an elevated position, such as a box, and move to the ground, which is an even more advanced version of plyometrics. Athletes training with plyometrics will do such plyometric moves in repetition, much like strength training exercises.

All About Muscles  

The real story lies in the muscles. Imagine if you tried to jump for that book with straight legs. You could never do it. But if you drop into a preloaded position, bending the knees sligh