Be Fit Fit! A Strong Start!

We all want to improve our speed and strength - plyometric exercises can be very handy here! Do not start any of these without making sure your GP is OK with it and without a few months of strength and aerobic training. Plyometrics tend to become intensive very quickly and, due to their explosive nature, it is easy to get injured.

Always make sure to warm up properly before doing any plyometric exercises. Never warm up with static stretches, where you hold the stretched position for a while. Warm up with either a jog or 10 min. on the rowing machine, or dynamic stretches (such as marathoner's legs, single knee tucks to the chest, butt kicks, and so on). Typically, plyo exercises do not take you long time anyway, because they are so tiring, so you might invest all that time into a solid warm-up. You might do them once or maximally twice a week or intercept your weight training session with some of them: do them between weight lifting sets instead of resting, you'll get even fitter - fast! Progress from low to high intensity and do not use any weight or wrist ankles for this type of movement. Beginners should aim at about 80-100 ground contacts during a typical session, while the intermediate exercisers will aim at 100-120 and advanced - 120 to 140.

Plyometrics will get you out of breath very quickly and also, they will make you feel that muscle burn super quick. This is the kind of discomfort you want to achieve, but if anything aches in a sharp way, stop, as this will lead to an injury.

Plyometrics are great for the prevention of bone loss as we age - each impact movement makes our bones that much stronger! Also, they quickly contribute to increased power, speed and strength, as well as coordination. Perform them quickly. The simplest example of a plyo movement is rope jumping. You might also try squat jumps, vertical jumps, lateral jumps, burpees, jumps over a box or cone, depth jumps, or front or side jumps onto a plyometric box (or a step). If it is too challenging to start from jumps onto a box, then work on jumping from the box down! Land on soft knees: The lower you squat following the landing, the better the workout (you will feel it in your quadriceps and gluteal muscles, I promise!). Also, try 'froggy jumps", i.e. squat in place and, from that immobile position, jump as far in front of you as you possibly can! Repeat 20 times! Jogging and running is also a form of plyometric exercise: you have to move your legs relatively fast, and each step is, act ually, a one-leg jump! For the upper body, you may want to try the following plyo challenges, using a sand bell or a medicine ball: squat throws, overhead throws, side throws, throws to the back over your head, slams of the ball onto the ground with a simultaneous deep squat, one -arm overhead throws, or even plyo push-ups (hands over the ground [tougher] or over a box [easier]. Once you master these, place your feet on a plyo box and perform plyo push-ups with your hands over the ground - this is a real challenge!

Aim at completing 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps of every exercise you choose to do and in between the sets, rest plenty (or do your weight training).

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