Plyometrics – A Primal Exercise For Strength Building

We can learn a lot from our early human ancestors, who were always running after prey, leaping from boulders, climbing trees and hanging from vines. Their daily existence was centered around surviving in an inhospitable world, and these exercises weren’t just necessary for everyday living – they gave them the strength and power and fitness necessary to survive. In today’s terminology, we characterize these primal exercises as plyometrics, or exercises designed to develop maximum muscular power. They’ve sadly fallen by the wayside in favor of complicated routines performed on weight machines or with cardio equipment, but just because nowadays we have access to high-tech gyms and expensive equipment doesn’t mean that these old school plyometrics can’t lead to strength building today.

In fact, by following a primal plyometrics routine laid out by thousands of years of evolution, we can expect our strength building to jump into overdrive. Plyometric contractions are specifically designed to maximize explosive force, so you’ll get strength building along with endurance training. The following exercises, most of which can be performed anywhere, without any equipment at all, will help you run faster, leap farther, jump higher, and generate more explosive power. Please note that these are intended for moderate athletes, for people in decent shape. If you’re just starting, or you’re coming off an injury, don’t jump right into these. Furthermore, it is recommended that you perform these on a surface that “gives,” like grass, sand, or a rubber track, to reduce the stress on your joints.

Squat Jumps

Start in a squat position – thighs parallel to the floor, arms out in front of you for balance – and then explode upwards, jumping as high as you can. Land in the standing position and resume the squat position. Repeat. Experienced athletes looking to maximize explosive strength building can come down immediately into the squat position. Complete three sets of 10.

Tuck Jumps

Start in a standing position. Jump as high as you can, bringing both knees up to your chest. To increase core strength building, make sure you’re bringing your knees to your chest, rather than bending to meet your knees. Achieve this by keeping your torso as straight as possible. Complete three sets of 10.

Single Leg Jumps

Stand on one foot, raising your other leg so that the thigh is parallel to the floor. Leap with just the one foot as far as you can. Beginners can switch feet after every jump, but experienced athletes should try doing ten consecutive jumps before switching legs.

Box Jumps

The only of the exercises that requires equipment (although even that can be worked around), box jumps will increase your vertical, as well as increase explosive strength building. Stand with feet close together in front of a 4′-6′ box (or a ledge/bench/etc of similar height). Jump and land on your heels on top of the box. Step down and repeat, three sets of 10.

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