Winter got you feeling down in the dumps? Tired of being cooped up inside all day? Fear not, my friend! Our new plyometric winter workout program is here to save the day (or at least, your sanity). This program is specifically designed for those of us who are stuck inside during the colder months and may be dealing with a little bit of seasonal depression. The importance of staying active in order to keep your mood up can’t be overstated! And thankfully with our beginner plyometric program, you'll be able to work up a sweat and boost those endorphins, all from the comfort of your own home.
This program is designed to be both effective and efficient, so you can get the most out of your at-home workout, learn some new plyometric movements safely, and work up a big time sweat! With a variety of types of exercises, including bodyweight and resistance band work, you can easily modify the workouts to fit your own fitness level and goals. Because these types of workouts target key muscle groups such as the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, you can build strength and improve your overall lower body function. And the best part? You don't need a ton of fancy equipment to get started. Just a little bit of space and your own body weight is all you need to work on increasing strength, mobility, and explosiveness! So why wait? Let's kick those winter blues to the curb and get moving!
Intro to plyometrics
Plyometric exercises are a type of high-intensity, explosive movement that can provide a number of benefits for athletes of all levels. These exercises, which involve quick, powerful movements that work to improve power, speed, overall athletic performance and fitness, are designed to push your muscles to their limits and can be a valuable addition to anyone’s workout routine. By taking advantage of the body's natural stretch reflexes, plyometric exercises work to improve muscle power and coordination, and can be used by a variety of athletes, including runners, basketball players, and even bodybuilders. When performed correctly, plyometric exercises can be a highly effective tool for improving athletic performance and can help athletes to reach their full potential.
There are several factors that qualify an exercise as plyometric:
- Intensity: Plyometric exercises are high-intensity movements that require high energy and effort. (Don’t worry, we’ll start you easy!)
- Explosiveness: Plyometric exercises involve quick, powerful movements that involve a rapid stretching and contracting of the muscles.
- Impact: Many plyometric exercises involve some form of impact, whether it be jumping, hopping, or bounding. (Lower impact variations will be suggested when possible!)
- Muscle power: Plyometric exercises are designed to improve muscle power and coordination, and often involve exercises that challenge the muscles to work harder and more explosively.
- Stretch reflex: Plyometric exercises take advantage of the body's natural stretch reflexes in order to improve power and coordination.
- Athletic performance: Plyometric exercises are often used to improve athletic performance and are commonly incorporated into workout routines for athletes of all levels, as well as non athletes who simply want to improve their cardio!
It is important to properly warm up before starting any exercise program, including plyometric workouts. A proper warmup increases blood flow to the muscles and helps to prepare the body for the physical demands of the workout. It can also help reduce the risk of injury. During a plyometric workout, muscles are subjected to high-impact movements, so it is especially important to properly warm up the muscles and tendons that will be under stress. In contrast, a regular strength training workout typically involves less explosive movements and may not require as extensive of a warmup. However, it is still important to prepare the body for physical activity and warm up appropriately to reduce the risk of injury.
Here’s a short and effective warmup routine that will get your body set for plyometric workouts:
Jogging or jumping jacks - 5 mins
Both of these will help limber up ankle joints and the muscles and tendons of the lower leg, essential before starting a plyometric workout! If you don’t have ceiling space for full jumping jacks, simply substitute skipping with no rope!
High Knees - 2 x 20 seconds
Start on the balls of your feet and alternately bring your knees up towards your midsection and back down as fast as you comfortably can, in a “running in place” motion. You are simply exaggerating the height of your knee lift, which will help mobilize your hips, and ankle joints as well as warm up all leg muscle groups.
Arm Circles - 20 reps backwards and forwards
- Stand in front of a stable box or platform that is about knee height.
- Begin by crouching down and swinging your arms behind you.
- Quickly extend your hips, knees, and ankles as you jump off the ground and swing your arms forward.
- Land softly on the box with both feet, immediately lowering back down into the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps. At first, you’ll just want to get used to the movement itself, but once you’re feeling comfortable you can aim for 3 sets of 5-15
- Start in a lunge position with your left foot forward and right foot back.
- Quickly switch legs by jumping off the ground and switching your feet in midair, landing in a lunge position with your right foot forward and left foot back.
- Immediately jump off the ground again, switching legs and returning to the starting position.
- This one can be tricky to nail the balance, so try a few reps at first and then rest for a minute or two so you’re not losing balance due to lack of leg stamina. Once you’re comfortable aim for 3 sets of 10
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Lower down into a squat position, keeping your chest up and your weight balanced.
- Explode upwards out of the squat, jumping as high as you can.
- Land softly back in the starting position and immediately lower down into another squat. Land on the balls of your feet in order to absorb the impact.
- Once you’re comfortable with the movement, try for 3 sets of 10.
Remember to always start slowly and gradually increase intensity as your body becomes more comfortable with the movements. It is also important to use proper form to avoid injury and maximize the effectiveness of the exercises.
Skipping: Believe it or not, skipping is a plyometric exercise! The stretching and rebounding of muscle groups that occurs as you skip makes this basic workout extremely effective and essential for plyo beginners! Check out this handy article explaining different skipping techniques in more detail! If you don’t have a rope, or the ceiling room, simply keep your arms up in a running position. Start with basic skipping, with both legs at the same time. Once your legs feel comfortable, switch to alternate leg skips (or jumps)… the key is to minimize the time spent with your feet on the ground - its essential to jump back off the ground as quickly as possible to maximize the rebounding effect for proper plyometric work. Getting maximum height on your skips or jumps is less important than making sure your feet are jumping and rebounding off the ground quickly! As always, if you feel any pain or discomfort, stop the exercise immediately. If you don't have a skipping rope yet, or are unsure about the different types, check out this NYT guide!
Medicine ball slams: If you have access to a medicine ball either at the gym or at home (and a surface to slam it) this one is great!
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a medicine ball with both hands.
- Raise the ball above your head and explosively slam it down on the ground as hard as you can.
- Catch the ball as it bounces back up and repeat the movement.
- Alternatively (If you have a brick or concrete wall), you can throw the ball sideways into a wall for an amazing oblique focused workout: for this version, plant your feet wider than shoulder width for extra balance, and stand perpendicular to the wall between 5-10 feet from it. Wind up by turning your torso and arms away from the wall, then throw the ball into the wall with as much force as you can generate. Use your full body to generate power for the throw, focusing on turning the hips and accelerating with both arms. Legs should stay planted for this throw, unless you feel more comfortable stepping with the throw and allowing your foot furthest from the wall to swing around as you release the ball. Aim for 3 sets of 10, and the same for wall throws, alternating between facing each direction. Wall throws can be added to the medicine ball slams for additional sets, or substituted.
Congratulations! Finishing a plyometric workout is no small feat. A plyometric workout program can be an effective way for beginners to improve their athletic performance and overall physical fitness. By focusing on exercises that involve explosive movements and high intensity intervals, plyometric workouts can help to build strength, power, and endurance. Since plyometrics can be challenging, it is important for beginners to start slowly and progress gradually in order to avoid injury and get the most out of their workouts. With consistent effort and proper form, a plyometric workout program can be a valuable addition to any fitness routine.
This workout routine has been designed for general informational and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding your health and fitness goals. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop immediately and consult your healthcare provider. The creator of this routine is not responsible for any injuries or adverse health effects that may result from the use of this information. Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.