A favourite recent addition to my workout repertoire is plyometrics. Combining both strength and conditioning, plyometrics are awesome because they impart the benefit of a full-body effort but in record time thanks to the high intensity. To keep workout intensity and heart rate up, I’ll often use one of the exercised detailed below on its own and between sets of regular weight-lifting exercises (they can also be a great way to burn out at the end of a workout). Stacked back-to-back like in this, though, they’ll pack a fat-burning, muscle-building workout. And forget crunches—these exercises are super-challenging for your core, not to mention your legs and even upper body.
- 5 mins treadmill run at 6.5 mph
- 5 mins treadmill run alternating 10 mph for 30 seconds, walk 3.5 mph for 30 seconds
Some gyms have boxes specifically for this, but I’ve been using an aerobic step and adding levels to the bottom (just be sure it’s stable and balanced as you build it). This article details proper box jump form—the idea is you want to start in with bent knees and do a vertical jump, bringing your knees up, and landing on the box/step in a squat-like position (weight in heels, knees behind ankles), really making an effort to land softly/smoothly (think cat-like landing). When you jump down, also make sure you land in a similar way (squat, knees bent/soft, weight in heels, ankles behind knees), or consider stepping down to protect your achilles tendon.
If you’re new to this, don’t be afraid to start lower and work your way up so that you can perform these safely. I’ve been doing these for a few weeks and have already noticed huge improvement in my vertical, so be patient! Take as much rest as you need between sets (around 30 sec – 1 min if possible to keep intensity high):
- 10 @ warm-up height (somewhat challenging but more about getting the motion down) *8 step layers
- 10 @ moderately challenging height *10 step layers
- 10 @ challenging height *11 step layers
- 10 @ challenging height *12 step layers
- 10 (or as many as you can get) @ most challenging height *13 step layers
*These are the heights I’m doing now to provide a sample, and give you a sense of what’s possible with some work—when I first started I was doing ~4 steps lower on all sets.
Yup, just good old fashioned burpees! If you’re not familiar, here’s a link to proper form. This is part is pretty straightforward. For each set, go as fast as you possibly can, but take as much rest as you need between sets (again, keeping that rest period shorter if possible as to maintain high intensity):
- 20 reps at max speed
- 15 reps at max speed
- 10 reps at max speed
The idea here is that you want to start in a squat position and jump as far as you can forward, landing soft in a squat position (weight in heels, knees behind ankles, etc.), then launching into your next jump. More details on form here (although I would squat deeper on landing than is done in the demo).
- 3 sets x 20 consecutive reps
And phew—that’s it! Once you’re finished this workout, make sure to drink plenty of water and have a balanced meal to recover (high protein, some healthy fat and clean carbs). Once you give this workout a shot, you’ll understand why mixing plyometric training in delivers such great results. You’ll likely even notice a difference in other aspects of performance (lifting, sprinting) because of the explosive power plyos help you develop. And as with sprints, these are great because there’s no ceiling—as you get better, you’ll just execute each exercise faster for challenge.