We’re about to take your workout from basic to beyond. Plyometrics, also known as jump training, turn ordinary exercises into powerhouse moves.
And the magic starts deep within your muscle fibers. Your slow-twitch (type I) and fast-twitch (type II) muscle fibers to be exact. Training your slow-twitch muscle fibers helps improve how you use oxygen during aerobic exercise. On the other hand, fast-twitch muscle fibers generate more force and are activated during plyometric exercises. Imagine running a race: Your slow-twitch muscle fibers will give you the stamina to get through each mile. As you approach the finish line, your fast-twitch muscles kick in so you can sprint to the end.
But faster doesn’t always mean better — it’s important to activate both muscle groups. CeCe Marizu, Daily Burn 365 trainer, says, “Fast-twitch muscle fibers wear out faster than slow-twitch muscle fibers and are used when the body is pushing to its max potential.” Here’s your perfect workout to keep it simple — or power up with a plyometric variation.
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5 Bodyweight Exercises to Make Plyometric
Here Marizu shows us how to take five bodyweight training moves, then level them up. Do 15-20 reps of each bodyweight exercise and then three to five reps of its plyometrics counterpart. Rest for a minute after completing one round of each pair of moves.
1. Squat to Squat Jump
The squat is one of the most important functional movement patterns to master. When you pick up a bag of groceries off the floor, you’re squatting. Squats primarily train the muscle fibers in your glutes, but they also work your hip flexors, core and back. Scale your squat up not just by adding weight or some height, too.
To make it plyometric: From the bodyweight squat position, release the tension in your glutes by driving your hips forward and swinging your arms behind you as you jump off the ground. Marizu says the key to creating momentum is using your arms. “Try jumping with your hands behind your head — it’s hard! Your arms act almost like sails to take you up a notch,” she says.
2. Lunge to Plyo Lunge
Unlike squats, which use a broader base of support, lunges are more dynamic and force you to recruit more muscles in your core and quads to maintain balance. Get a leg up on your lunges by adding some speed to your split stance in the plyo version.
To make it plyometric: “Make sure your stride is big enough between your front and back legs so you can still feel that connection with your heel and the floor. Also, use your quads to help you out,” Marizu says. Because plyo lunges can make you tired faster (and require a bit more coordination, too), Marizu recommends focusing on the depth of your lunge and to slow down so you don’t sacrifice form.
3. Step Jack to Star Jumps
Step jacks are used in every warm-up before a workout or run for a reason. “They work everything from your glutes to your calves and inner thighs,” Marizu says. Meanwhile, the plyometric variation, the star jump, also recruits your arms, deltoids (shoulders) and lats to help pull your body upward.
To make it plyometric: Marizu says slightly bending your knees will help prevent your fast-twitch muscle fibers from tiring too quickly, so you don’t lose height. “Think of your knees like a coil. When you press down into them in a tighter position, the spring moves a little faster and with more force,” Marizu explains.
4. Plank to Plyo Spider Lunge
The ultimate isometric exercise, the plank is a true test of core strength. Start by holding a plank for 30 seconds and work your way up to a full minute. The dynamic variation, the spider lunge, uses your upper body and core to push off the floor to stabilize your body. Just remember to keep your core tight and your back and pelvis lifted throughout the exercise.
To make it plyometric: “Push the floor away from you to create room for your foot to come up and keep your joints in alignment,” Marizu says. Another pro tip: Pull your stomach up and in to allow more space to fill your abs. “The small details in this move help make it one tough move at any pace!” Marizu says.
5. Plank to Frogger
The frogger, also called a squat thrust, is one of the most underrated bodyweight exercises, Marizu says. It combines lower body strength, shoulder stability, hip mobility and balance. The low-impact step-up frogger exercise is a great way to practice good plank and squat form. But if you’re ready to power things up (and burn more calories), go for plyometrics!
To make it plyometric: Hop your feet forward from the high-plank position to generate more force. Use the same pushing motion in the plank to spider lunge to engage your core and get into a squat position.