Plyometrics 101 Workout Routines

plyometric push up


Last week we discussed plyometric training, which can be categorized as a form of high intensity interval training that revolves around explosive jumping movements.

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Like high intensity interval training, p lyometrics can be a great way to stay in shape, burn fat, and increase your body's ability for explosive movements.

The best part about plyometics is that they can be performed by just about anyone. Plyometrics offers many advantages that typical cardio sessions do not such as more diversity, increased fat burning, and more fun!

Just like High Intensity Interval training, plyometrics works your fast twitch muscle fibers, which are key for fat loss due to the “after burn” effect. As we discussed in our HIIT article, the “after burn” effect is when your metabolism is temporarily increased following a high intense workout that involves your fast twitch muscle fibers. This is because your fast twitch muscle fibers take up to 24 hours to fully recover.

According to, “A study presented by Florida State University (Tallahassee) researchers at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) reported that subjects who performed HIIT cardio burned almost 10% more calories during the 24 hours following exercise than a steady-state group, despite the fact that the total calories burned during each workout were the same.”

You will get a similar “after burn” effect from plyometrics because you are working these same fast twitch muscle fibers. How long of an “after burn” you get will depend solely on your workout intensity.

Plyometrics are similar to HIIT as you are utilizing these same fast twitch muscle fibers. Plyometrics will help to strengthen your lower body and your legs by forcing your body to adapt to maximum force and exertion. The more powerful your legs are, the stronger they become.

According to Joe Defranco who is nationally renown for training some of the top NFL athletes, an athlete's 1 rep maximum on the squat tends to increase when their vertical leap and overall lower body explosiveness increases. Plyometrics has been shown to improve the squat, bench press, sprinting and other explosive movements when used with post activation potentiation. In fact, a study conducted by Chiu and colleagues (2003) found that highly trained athletes improved their power performance in the jump squat after a PAP session.

Many of the top Football, Basketball, Soccer, volleyball and Track and Field athletes all over the world perform plyometrics regularly as part of their training regimen. At world renown sports training Academy IMG in Bradenton, FL – young soccer, basketball, and football players perform plyometrics to increase their lower leg drive and power.

In Las Vegas, Nevada at Joe Abunassar's Impact Basketball, over a hundred current and future NBA Players perform plyometrics to prepare for the upcoming NBA season and to increase overall explosiveness.

Plyometrics can be a fun and exciting way for the average person to stay in shape as well.

Who can perform plyometrics?

The short answer is just about anyone! If you are between the ages of 16 and 60 with no pre existing injuries of the ankles, knees, and lower back you are an excellent candidate. It is also good to have a fitness base before beginning. You should be able to squat 70 Percent of your Body Weight before beginning plyometrics. If you weigh 200 lbs, you should be able to squat 140 lbs. This will ensure that you have enough lower leg strength and drive to perform the exercises properly.

So who are Plyometrics not good for?

Let's take a look at a few groups of people who should not perform plyometrics.

-Anyone Over the Age of 65 Due to Weaker Joints, Ligaments and Tendons

-Anyone considered Clinically Obese. Establish a fitness base before you start plyometrics

-Anyone recovering from a serious knee, back, or ankle injury

Injury Prevention

The best way to prevent injury associated with plyometrics is to make sure you are warmed up and stretched before your 1 st set. This should include a 5-10 minute warm-up where you break a light sweat with activities like jump roping, jogging, or even cycling. Get the blood flowing in your legs and when you are nice and warm make sure to stretch out your quadriceps, hamstrings, ankles, and calves. You should always make sure to warm up properly before beginning.

Another great trick to prevent injury and help your muscles recover following a plyometric workout is to use a foam roller, which is a type of myofascial release.

Think of this as a way to give you a deep tissue massage and relax the muscle. My favorite foam rolling exercise is to foam roll my IT band which runs directly into your knee ligaments. This is a great way to prevent knee injury. For a visual demonstration of the IT band foam roll, check out this video.

Now that you have figured out if plyometrics is right for you and learned how to prevent injury, let's take a look at a few sample workouts.

Beginners Workout

Equipment Needed: None

Warm Up Period: 10 Minutes of Light Jog, Stretching, Optional Foam Rolling

Exercise One: Squat Jumps

Sets: 4

Repetitions: 10

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Description: This exercise is performed just like a dumb bell squat for the 1 st half of the movement, with your arms resting comfortably at your side. As you lower your torso and hips to the ground and they reach about 90 degrees, explode off the ground and jump straight into the air. Land and repeat.

Exercise Two: Leap Ups

Sets: 4

Time: 30 Seconds

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Description: This exercise is very similar to the squat jumps except that you will drive your knees up into the air as you jump. This puts extra emphasis on your quadriceps. Jump into the air as explosively as possible and drive your knees up towards your chin in a fluid motion. Land and repeat.

Exercise Three: Side-to-Side Ankle Jumps

Time: 30 Seconds

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Description: This exercise will focus on quick jumps. Find a line or pick an imaginary spot on the floor. Bring your feet together, and hop over the line with both feet together. You only need to bend your knees slightly on the takeoff and the landing. For this exercise, focus on the quickness of your jumps instead of the height you get off the ground.

Intermediate Workout

Equipment Needed: Plyometric Box 24-36 Inches High (Depending on Jumping Ability)

Warm Up Period: 10 Minutes of Light Jog, Stretching, Optional Foam Rolling

Exercise One: Depth Jumps

Sets: 4

Repetitions: 12

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Description: Begin the exercise standing on a plyometric platform that is about 2-3 feet off the ground depending on your jumping ability. Start Low and you can always go higher. Step off the plyometric box and land in a very athletic position with your back arched, chest up, knees slightly bent and your arms at your side ready to drive. Immediately upon landing, drive your feet down into the ground, bend your knees and swing your arms back and jump as high and fast off the ground as you can. You are jumping straight into the air, and going for height.

Exercise Two: Bounding

Sets: 4

Repetitions: 12

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Description: This is a fantastic exercise that forces you to incorporate your entire body into the explosive movement. You will begin the exercise with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees bent slightly. Arms will be bent and elbows start at your side in a position where they are ready to drive back and initiate the movement. Bring both arms and elbows back and bend the knees. You will then spring forward and jump out, for maximum distance while landing in an athletic position ready to repeat the movement. It is ok to take a bunny hop in between “bounds” to catch your balance and regain momentum.

Exercise Three: Box Jumps

Sets: 4

Repetition: 10

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Description: You will use a plyometric platform anywhere from 24 inches to 36 inches off the ground depending on your vertical leap. You will start standing about 6 inches away from the plyo box. You will be jumping onto the box for each repetition. Drive your arms back, bend the knees, and tuck your knees up so you can clear the box easily. This is one repetition. Land and repeat the rest.

Advanced Workout

Equipment Needed: 2 Plyometric Box's 36-48 Inches High (Depending on Jumping Ability), 10 Lb Dumb Bells, 12 Inch Plyometric Box

Warm Up Period: 10 Minutes of Light Jog, Stretching, Optional Foam Rolling

Exercise One: Depth Jump into Box Jump

Sets: 4

Repetitions: 12

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Description: You will set up 2 plyometric boxes in a row about 3 feet apart. You will begin the exercise standing on the 1 st plyometric box. You will step off the plyo box, and immediately upon landing - gather yourself, and drive your legs down into the ground and jump on the next box. This is a depth jump straight into a box jump. You should jump with the same form you use to perform the regular box jumps.

Exercise Two: Weighted Squat Jumps

Sets: 4

Weight: 10 Lb Dumbbells

Repetitions: 10

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Description: This exercise is performed exactly like the squat jumps, except you will be holding a 10 lb dumb bell at your side. You will lower your torso and hips bending at the knees and hips, while holding the 10 lb weight comfortably at your side. You will drive up and explode off the ground as high as possible. By holding the dumb bells, you are forced to use only your lower body to get height off the ground. This is one of the best plyometric exercises you can do.

Exercise Three: One-Leg Box Jumps

Sets: 4

Equipment: 12-inch plyometric box

Repetitions: 12 each Leg

Rest Time: 60 Seconds

Description: You will begin by standing about 3 inches away from the plyometric box on one leg. This is performed exactly like the regular box jumps except you will be doing so with one leg and staying on the “jumping leg” throughout the entire movement with your off leg never touching the ground. Bend your knees slightly and explode onto the plyometric platform with one leg. Hop back down on that same leg and repeat the movement.


Plyometrics are one of my favorite forms of cardio. There are so many different plyometric routines you can choose from.

Remember, cardio does not have to be boring and it does not mean that you are repeating the same treadmill or jogging workout over and over. Create some excitement in your workout and you will have amazing results.

Besides the amazing fat burning and lower body strengthening benefits of plyometrics, it has been proven that people are more motivated by new forms of exercise. You will be more consistent and train harder if you are performing an exercise technique that you truly enjoy. I hope that you guys get as much out of plyometrics as I have. Try out one of these sample plyometric workouts and see for yourself how much fun it can be!

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As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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