Upper Body Plyometric Exercises
Participating in an upper-body plyometric-training program builds power in the muscles of your abdomen, arms, back, chest and shoulders. This is important for playing the variety of sports that require explosive upper-body movements. The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends performing upper-body plyometric exercises multiple times per week on non-consecutive days, but only after building a foundation of muscular strength through a standard resistance-training program. Choose exercises that mimic the movements required for your sport or sports.
Volume and Frequency
The volume and frequency with which upper body plyometric exercises are practiced is based on the individual's strength. The intensity of the drill will drive the number of reps and sets. Two sets of 10 reps with a two minute rest in between sets is the norm; but don't feel obliged to push past your current fitness level. If you can only perform an exercise with one rep, work your way up to adding more reps over time.
Plyometric push-ups increase power in your chest, shoulders and upper arms. It is appropriate for football blockers, who frequently have to deliver blows to the bodies of defensive pass rushers in a similar motion. Lie face down with your hands below your shoulders and ankles flexed, so your toes touch the floor. Extend your arms explosively, pushing your body and hands off the floor as high as possible. Break your fall with your hands, then lower to the starting position and repeat immediately. Perform the drill from your knees, if desired, to make it less challenging.
Power drops work many of the same muscles as plyometric push-ups in a basketball chest pass-like movement. The exercise requires a medicine ball and a platform. Lie on your back with your head close to the base of the platform and extend both arms above your chest. Flex your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Have a partner stand on the platform and hold the medicine ball above your chest. When ready, tell her to drop the ball. Catch the ball and bring it down to your chest, then explosively extend your arms, throwing the ball straight upward so your partner can catch it.
Side throws target the lower-back muscles and obliques, which are located on the sides of your abdomen and coordinate to turn your torso to the left and right. Performing the exercise regularly may help baseball players and golfers rotate with more power, potentially increasing bat speed or club-head speed. Stand either with your left side 3 to 5 yards away from a wall if you are right-handed or your right side closest to the wall if you're left-handed. Hold a medicine ball about 6 inches in front of your abdomen with both hands. Powerfully twist forward, releasing the ball into the wall. Allow your hips to rotate along with your torso. Pick the ball up and repeat the drill. Also perform the exercise in the opposite direction to promote muscular balance.
Two-Hand Overhead Throw
The two-hand overhead throw works the muscles that extend your shoulder joints, moving your arms downward from an overhead position. These muscles play a role in the overhead movements involved in baseball, softball, swimming, tennis and volleyball. Stand about 5 yards away from a wall with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold a medicine ball above your head with both hands. Extend both arms simultaneously and throw the ball at the base of the wall as hard as you can, then pick up the ball and repeat.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association advises that when an athlete not perform plyometric exercises when tired. Warm up for up to 10 minutes with full-body calisthenics like jumping jacks or rope-jumping, squats and lunges and stretching. Master each exercise before going on to more demanding ones.
- National Strength and Conditioning Association: Plyometric Exercises Position Statement
- Sports Fitness Advisor: Upper Body Plyometric Drills
- American Council on Exercise: Medicine Ball Power Drops
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle
Matthew Schirm has worked in the sports-performance field since 1998. He has professional experience as a college baseball coach and weight-training instructor. He earned a Master of Science in human movement from A.T. Still University in 2009.