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Jump To It

What if fitness was just a hop, skip, and a jump away? Add some plyometric moves to the mix and it just might be.

Plyometrics—sometimes referred to as jump training—refers to explosive training moves designed to increase power, balance, speed, and agility. The method was originally developed for Olympic athletes, but has since become a popular fitness tool for people of all ability levels.

Plyometric exercises often mimic the motions used in sports, such as skiing, tennis, or basketball. In our valley, plyometric moves become popular in the fall when we start focusing on ski conditioning—but the benefits aren’t limited to skiing. You can use plyometric moves year-round to build and maintain fitness.

Why It Works
Plyometric moves rapidly stretch a muscle (eccentric phase) and then rapidly shorten it (concentric phase). This stretch-shortening cycle has been shown to improve reflexes, strengthen muscles, increase muscular power, and reduce the force of impact on joints. The method prompts what is known as the myotactic reflex of muscle—in short, it improves the power of muscular contraction.

Plyometric exercise has been shown to:

  • Improve vertical jump
  • Increase muscular strength
  • Protect joints
  • Improve balance and agility
  • Improve speed

Jump to It
If you want to incorporate some plyometric moves into your fitness routine, start small and build from there. Try these moves:

  • Jump and Stick: Start from the balls of your feet and jump high (not far). Land with your knees bent and hold for a few seconds before jumping again.
  • Standing Long Jump: Swing your arms back, then forward as you leap, and jump as far as possible, landing on both feet.
  • Skaters: Cross your right leg behind your left leg as you bend your left knee into a half-squat position. Extend your left arm out to the side, and swing your right arm across your hips. Hop a few feet directly to the right, switching the position of your legs and arms. (Continue from side to side.)
  • Split Jumps: Stand with one foot in front of the other, squat low, jump high, switch the legs midair, and land in a low squat with the opposite leg in front.
  • Forward Bounds: Mimic a sprinting stride, but do it in slow motion—bounding off of one leg and landing on the other.