Kids jump. Kittens jump. Dogs jump. Adults do plyometrics. Like high-intensity interval training, jumping forces your muscles to expend maximum force in a brief amount of time. Doing plyometrics torches calories, improves your stamina, and increases your strength.
Add jump training to your regular workouts to engage large muscle groups like your hamstrings and gluteus maximus. You’ll burn fat and build muscle. Even more important – you’ll have fun. Enjoying your exercise routine is a crucial part of sticking with it. Introduce some moves that remind you of your playground days, and you might even start thinking of your workout as playtime.
Start Slow, Protect Your Knees – and Never Stick the Landing
Can’t remember the last time you jumped? Re-introduce your body to plyometrics slowly. Add one of the exercises below to your workout at a low number of reps until you get the hang of it. The moves below are listed from easiest to most difficult.
Protect your knees when you do plyometrics by keeping your rear end above them on the bottom part of a jump. Thighs parallel to the floor is as low as you should go. Squatting lower than this puts undue pressure on your knees.
You’ll also want to focus on landing as softly as you can – never “stick” the landing like a gold-medal gymnast, with legs straight and knees locked. Jumps should run together in a continuous motion, not with a hard stop between each one.
You remember this one right? Skip around the gym or down the street in front of your house. Too cool for school? Skip around the inside of your house where no one can see you.
You don’t need a line of kids to play leapfrog as an adult! Just do your best frog jump across the room or down the hallway, then turn around and come back. You may be surprised at how much energy this child’s game requires. Watch your knees on this one, and don’t squat as low as the kids do.
Start in a lunge position, with your right leg in front of your left leg and your hands on your hips. Now jump up quickly and switch your legs, landing in a lunge with your left leg in front of your right leg. Repeat 10-20 times.
How high can you jump? Begin in a squat with your thighs parallel to the floor and your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart. Now jump up and stretch your body long and lean – hands to the sky and toes pointed down. Land softly in the same squat position. Repeat 10-20 times.
Start with your feet slightly more than shoulder-width apart, then squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Now jump up as high as you can, swinging your arms over your head for momentum. At the high point of the jump, tuck your elbows and knees to your chest, then land softly in a squat. Repeat 10-20 times.
You’ll need a sturdy plyometrics box for this exercise. Most gyms have them in several heights – start with the lowest. Stand in front of the box with feet shoulder-length apart. Squat slightly, swing your arms, and leap onto the box. Step back down, and repeat 10-20 times.
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