The how and why of plyometrics

posted on March 16th, 2010 in Cycling, Cycling Tips, Strength Training by Stephen

This month is plyometric re-introduction for my clients. I say re-introduction b/c my regular clients have done them before, however they have not done them for some time now. The reason for this is in the overall picture of the training plan, plyometrics are like the tip of the pyramid. My clients have been doing isometric and strength training all through the winter, and now that we are getting into the Spring events it is the perfect time for the plyometric workouts that will create the needed power for these events.

But, before we get into plyometrics let me explain some things.

For a strength training plan for a cyclist – just like Long Slow Distance is the base, isometric and strength building exercises are at the foundation of the pyramid. These are the base upon which strength is built. Then finally topped off with plyometrics. Caution should be used because rips can possibly occur when overworked or worked too soon. A solid base of 4-8 weeks of Isometric and strength training should be done before attempting any plyometrics. Learn the moves carefully. Plyometric moves range from simple side-to-side ankle hops to more advanced depth jumps.

Plyometric movements, are movements in which a muscle is loaded and then contracted in rapid sequence. Plyometrics are used to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, providing explosiveness for a variety of sport-specific activities.

Plyometrics occur anytime that the body is landing, stopping, and immediately taking off again. However, just like an airplane, the landing is the most important part of the movement. Many people do not land properly when doing box jumps and plyometrics. Injuries that may occur with landing to hard are: jammed knees, torn ACL’s, and muscle tears.

Plyometric exercises involve an increased risk of injury due to the large forces generated during training and performance, and should only be performed by well-conditioned individuals who are under supervision. Good levels of physical strength, proprioception (the bodies awareness of where it is) should be achieved before commencement of plyometric training. Proprioception aids the important components of balance, coordination and agility.

The landings should ideally be soft, but the shock of the landing should be absorbed through several joints of the body. So, with jumps, the leg muscles that control the ankle, knee, and hips all act as shock absorbers for the body to smooth out and soften the landing.

Plyometric exercises use explosive movements to develop muscular power. The ability to convert strength to speed in a very short time allows for athletic movements beyond what raw strength will allow. If the muscle is lengthened while loaded just prior to the contraction, it will produce greater force through the storage of elastic energy. This effect requires that the transition time between eccentric contraction and concentric contraction be very short.

Caution should be used because rips can possibly occur when overworked or worked too soon. A solid base of 4-8 weeks of strength training should be done before attempting plyometrics. Basic plyometrics should be introduced about a month before a competitive season, and continued for 4 weeks, along with strength training maintenance. After a good warm-up, clients will do 3 rounds of varied plyometric exercises, then 3 rounds of strength training exercises. So we do plyometrics while the client is still fresh, then work on strength and stability after.

However, when done properly the effects of plyometrics are great explosive power! Tim has been doing plyometrics for about a month now and just won the Pro1,2 Perry-Roubaix GA cup Road Race (a course that goes over packed dirt as well as pavement) March 2010 – Awesome job Tim!!!

What mistake do you notice in this exercise?

Untitled from Stephen Carhart

This was Tim’s first attempt in ‘lunge jumps’, so take it easy on him pls! :)

Strength – a $24.95 value
To Climb Stronger there is something that is really important: your strength foundation must come first if you want to climb Stronger! You must first become a stronger cyclist and this program is set up so that you build that strength! This program is set-up to create legs like pistons!

FIRST PHASE:
The program starts with core and stabilization exercises. They may sound easy or remedial, but they can be very challenging, in fact most of my clients dis-like doing stabilization the least because it is challenging.

SECOND PHASE:
Strength exercises that are going to give your legs the basic strength. Then we are going to single leg exercises that are going to make sure each leg is equally as strong.

THIRD PHASE:
Plyometrics. I have included a lot of detailed information about doing plyometrics because you have to be careful of proper execution and not burning out from them. Trust me, if 2x National Champ & Pro cyclist Daniel Holt can feel burned out after 2 months, so can you.

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One Response to “The how and why of plyometrics”

  1. [...] before you race to the gym or the basement to hammer out a plyometric workout, please read this first and keep in mind that a risky exercise may not be the most [...]

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