Diet, Weight Loss & Nutrition

What Are Plyometrics and Why Should You Care?

Dr. Ryan Shelton Headshot
By Dr. Ryan Shelton, NMD

We all lead busy and hectic lives that make it easy to let certain things fall by the wayside. For example, you might put off doing the laundry in favor of spending a few extra hours catching up on work. You might swing by the drive-through after work instead of hitting the grocery store and preparing a healthy meal. Once in a while, you just want to take the easy route, but there are some things that shouldn’t be neglected – your health is one of them.

As busy as you are, it is absolutely essential that you find time to work out. Not only will regular exercise help you maintain a healthy body weight and support your cardiovascular health, but it’s great for your mental health and wellness too! If you think you don’t have time for regular exercise, think again – there are plenty of options out there for high-intensity workouts that can be completed in less than thirty minutes. Many of these workouts focus on plyometrics to burn calories and tone muscles in a fraction of the time a traditional workout takes.

So, what exactly are plyometrics and how do you do them? Keep reading to learn the basics about plyometric exercises and to receive tips for incorporating them into your own workout.

What Are Plyometric Exercises?

The term “plyometrics” used to be synonymous with “jump training” because this type of exercise is characterized by dynamic moves like jumping, skipping, and hopping. Plyometrics do more than just help you build strength; they also stretch your muscles while helps to tone them. Including plyometrics in your workout can boost power, balance, strength, and agility. What you need to remember about plyometrics is that they are not designed for cardio – they shouldn’t be performed in a fast-paced circuit because you need to focus on form for both safety’s sake and to get the most out of the exercise.

So, what are some examples of plyometric exercises: Here are a few:

  • Plyo Push-Ups – Being in plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, your body in a straight line. Slowly lower your chest to the floor then push up explosively from your hands – use enough force for your hands to leave the floor for a split second then land softly and repeat.
  • Plant Squats – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and, with your weight on your heels, sit back and lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Then, in one quick motion, drop your hands to the floor and kick your feet back into plank position, keeping your body straight from head to toe. Next, jump your feet back to the squat position and repeat.
  • X-Overs – Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and, with your weight in your heels and then squat slowly down. Stop when your thighs are almost parallel to the floor then jump forward, gaining as much height as you can, and land softly on your feet. Return to the quarter-squat position and then repeat.
  • Broad Jumps – Again, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and, with your weight on your heels, sit back and lower your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Jump up explosively and, as your feet leave the floor, cross your right leg over your left and back to land in the starting position. Return to the squat then repeat with the opposite leg.
  • Skater Jumps – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and lower your body into squat position. With your weight on the right leg, push off to make a lateral move and land softly on your left leg, moving your right leg behind you like a skater. Repeat on the opposite leg.
  • Scissor Jumps – Begin in a standard lunge position with your right leg bent at a 90-degree angle, foot flat on the floor and your knee behind your toes. The other leg should be extended behind you, supported on the toe with the knee not touching the floor. Squat down then jump explosively up, switching leg positions in mid-air and landing softly. Repeat on the other side.

When performing plyometric exercises, you want to aim for more sets and fewer repetitions. The sweet spot is ten sets of three to five repetitions with 30 seconds of rest between sets. Using this formula and some of the exercises above, you can create a custom plyometric workout plan.

Sample Plyometric Workout

Now that you have a better understanding of what plyometric exercises are, you may be wondering what a plyo workout looks like. The beauty of plyometrics is that you don’t need any special equipment and you can generally use your own bodyweight for resistance.

So, whether you want to build power and balance, or you simply want to switch up your workout routine, plyos are worth a try. With this and other plyometric workouts, you can choose to perform all 10 sets of an exercise in a row, or you can alternate through them as you like. Here is a sample plyometric workout plan to try:

  1. Warm up with 10 minutes of light jogging and stretching to prepare your muscles.
  2. Exercise 1: Broad Jumps – 10 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions with 30 seconds rest between sets.
  3. Exercise 2: Plyo Push-Ups – 10 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions with 30 seconds rest between sets.
  4. Exercise 3: Scissor Jumps – 10 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions with 30 seconds rest between sets.
  5. Exercise 4: Plank Squats – 10 sets of 3 to 5 repetitions with 30 seconds rest between sets.
  6. Cool down with 10 minutes of walking or light jogging and stretching.

When it comes to getting your daily dose of exercise, it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you’re moving. If you want to get the most bang for your buck with exercise, however, consider switching from long, drawn-out cardio sessions to shorter high-intensity workouts featuring plyometrics.

By Dr. Ryan Shelton

Dr. Ryan Shelton, N.D.
Zenith Labs®



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