Plyometric workouts are a great way to mimic the demands of a race or sporting event while simultaneously improving your overall performance. This type of exercise, in which your muscle elongates and then quickly contracts again, has been linked to improved agility, jumping height and muscular power. The following exercises, which require little to no equipment, can easily be performed at home in an open space.
1. Box Jump
Box jumps focus on your take off and landing form while building up your quadriceps strength along the way.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand facing a fight of stairs. Begin by squatting down and then jump forward onto the first step. Next, reverse the motion and jump backwards onto the floor again. During each of the jumps, be sure your knees do not buckle inwards and your landings are quiet. The exercise can be made more difficult by jumping onto a higher step.
2. Scissor Jump
This exercises helps you develop your vertical leap by activating your quad and glute muscle groups.
HOW TO DO IT: Start in a lunge position with your front thigh parallel to the ground. Jump straight up and reverse your legs so the opposite one is in front when you land. Continue to jump and alternate legs making sure to keep your front knee from moving inwards or beyond the end of your toe.
3. Lateral Step Over
Step overs challenge the stabilizing muscles in the hips and thighs by introducing a side to side motion.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand next to a step stool with your left foot on the floor and your right foot on the step. Simultaneously bring your left foot onto the stool as you lower your right foot to the ground on the other side of it. Then, reverse the motion and return to the starting position. Only one foot should be in contact with the step at any point in time.
This exercise uses the same pattern as the classic children's game to give the muscles in your lower body a challenging workout.
HOW TO DO IT: Start in a squat position and jump slightly forward landing only on your right leg. Be sure your knee does not buckle inwards and your landing is not stiff or noisy. Then, using only your right leg, jump forward and land on both feet once again. Continue to do this alternating between single and double leg landings. When you have finished a set, repeat the exercise and land on your left side. To make this drill more challenging, try to increase the jumping distance.
5. Toe Taps
Toe taps challenge your balance and agility by forcing you stabilize on a single leg.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand facing a kitchen chair with your left foot on the ground and the ball of your right foot resting lightly on the seat of the chair. Your right knee should be bent at a 90 degree angle. Bend your knees slightly and jump as you alternate the positions of each leg. Quickly move back and forth making sure your feet only make light contact with the chair. The hind leg should land softly as it strikes the ground.
6. Tuck Jump
This simple, yet effective exercise helps build power in the leg muscles used to run and jump.
HOW TO DO IT:From a squat position, jump straight up in the air as you simultaneously tuck your knees into your stomach. Then, bring your feet under you again as you land quietly on the same spot you took off from. As the exercise becomes less difficult, try to increase the height of your jump.
Warnings and Guidelines
Plyometric workouts should be completed two times each week. Initially, perform two sets of 15 repetitions of the exercises at a slower pace. During this phase, the emphasis should be on maintaining proper form. As this gets easier, the speed and intensity of the exercises can be increased and two to four sets of 30 seconds of each technique can be done. During these intervals, try to complete as many repetitions of the exercise as you're able. Be sure to stop if you are unable to maintain good technique or if you are experiencing any pain during the workout.