MF MUS­CLE EX­PERT Should I be do­ing my gym’s ply­o­met­rics class?

Ply­o­met­rics can be a great train­ing tool for build­ing ex­plo­sive­ness and ath­leti­cism, but many gyms don’t teach them prop­erly

Men's Fitness - - Experts -

Ben Crook­ston is a strength and con­di­tion­ing coach and the founder of Train Heroic. He spe­cialises in weightlift­ing, aer­o­bics and ply­o­met­rics.

Alot of gyms of­fer classes that claim to be ply­o­met­rics-based – typ­i­cally fea­tur­ing end­less box jumps – but they’re miss­ing the point of what ply­o­met­rics ac­tu­ally are, and what they should be used for.

Feel the force

The aim of ply­o­met­rics is to in­crease your abil­ity to ex­ert force, and force equals mass times ac­cel­er­a­tion. If you can in­crease the speed at which you land from a jump or a bal­lis­tic press-up, you’ll ex­ert more force, which means you can do ev­ery­thing more ex­plo­sively. This makes plyos an ex­cel­lent tool for speed­ing up the body’s re­sponses and im­prov­ing ath- letic per­for­mance. But for this to be ef­fec­tive, you have to be per­form­ing the ex­er­cise at max­i­mum ef­fort and only a hand­ful of times, rest­ing as long as nec­es­sary be­tween reps to en­sure you can ap­ply your­self with max­i­mum force ev­ery time.

Most ‘ply­o­met­ric’ gym classes use ex­plo­sive moves such as box jumps or clap pres­sups, but in a for­mat where you per­form up to 20 con­sec­u­tive reps as part of a cir­cuit. While this will cer­tainly help you shift ex­cess body fat, it isn’t ply­o­met­ric, and it won’t im­prove your ex­plo­sive­ness or ath­letic per­for­mance.

Jump around

If you’re just look­ing to main­tain your gen­eral level of fit­ness, you don’t need to worry about ply­o­met­rics. But if you specif­i­cally want to get more ex­plo­sive, make sure you have a solid foun­da­tion of strength and mo­bil­ity be­fore you jump in – no pun in­tended. Plyo ex­er­cises in­volve dy­namic, ex­plo­sive move­ments that – when done prop­erly at max­i­mum in­ten­sity – put your ten­dons and mus­cles un­der a lot of stress, in­creas­ing the risk of in­jury.

To min­imise this, I rec­om­mend mas­ter­ing func­tional ex­er­cises such as heavy bar­bell squats, cleans and snatches be­fore you start do­ing se­ri­ous plyo work.

Even when guys do use ply­o­met­rics cor­rectly, they tend to spend more time do­ing lower-body plyo work. If your sport in­volves ex­plo­sive up­per-body move­ments – such as throw­ing balls or punches – I’d add up­per-body plyo moves like bal­lis­tic press-ups or depth press-ups to your ses­sions, aim­ing for sets of five to ten max­ef­fort reps, rest­ing as re­quired be­tween sets. You can even work your up­per body while do­ing box jumps by hold­ing light dumb­bells or wear­ing a weighted vest.

So if you’ve got a good strength base and you want to be more ex­plo­sive, you should def­i­nitely add ply­o­met­rics to your rou­tine. But not by go­ing to a class that con­fuses ply­o­met­rics with high-vol­ume fat-loss drills. train­

Moves such as the al­ter­nat­ing ply­o­met­ric press-up can make you more ex­plo­sive

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