There are many benefits of plyometrics, yet lots of people are scared off by the high-intensity, high-impact nature of plyometric training and plyometric exercises and therefore forego adding plyometrics into their workout routines.
While plyometrics for beginners can be demanding, plyometrics benefits are well worth it for most athletes, whether you are just starting out or are a competitive athlete.
But, what are the benefits of plyometrics? How do you get started with plyometric workouts? What are the best plyometric exercises for beginners?
In this guide, we will discuss the benefits of plyometrics for athletes of all ages and ability levels, and then we will provide a list of plyometric exercises to get you started incorporating this effective form of exercise into your workout routine.
We will cover:
- What Are Plyometric Exercises?
- What Is the Purpose of Plyometric Training?
- What Are the Benefits of Plyometrics?
- How to Get Started With Plyometrics for Beginners
- What Are the Best Plyometric Exercises for Beginners?
Let’s dive in!
What Are Plyometric Exercises?
Plyometrics, also referred to as plyometric exercises, plyometric training, or plyo exercises, are high-impact, explosive exercises that utilize rapid force generation to jump, bound, hop, or generate explosive speed to produce movement of your body in some way.
Plyometrics are often referred to as “jump training“ because most plyometric exercises involve some type of jumping or hopping, as jumping requires energy storage of the body and then a rapid release of this storage, which requires explosive power development.
Examples of plyometric exercises or plyometric drills include box jumps, skipping, jumping rope, burpees, depth jumps, single-leg hops, and vigorous bounding.
What Is the Purpose of Plyometric Training?
Plyometric training conditions your muscles, bones, and connective tissues along with your neuromuscular and cardiovascular systems to be able to generate force rapidly and explosively and then handle the impact upon landing.
Plyometrics movements work on a physiological principle known as the stretch-shortening cycle.
Essentially, there is a pre-loading phase in which your connective tissues, mainly your tendons, store potential energy through a stretch.
Then, like a spring recoiling, you bound upwards or jump, contracting the muscle that the tendon is attached to, and the tendon shortens as the muscle contracts, releasing this stored energy so that you can generate a tremendous amount of force quickly.
For example, if you are doing a single leg hop, you would begin the plyometric exercise by actually bending your knee and dorsiflexing your ankle, which stretches the stiff Achilles tendon.
Then, as you explode through the ball of your foot, the gastrocnemius (calf muscle) contracts and shortens, allowing the stored energy from the stretch in the Achilles to help spring the body up into the air higher and more powerfully than if you just jumped from a flat foot without pre-loading the muscle-tendon complex with the mini squat.
What Are the Benefits of Plyometrics?
Plyometric exercises provide a different training stimulus to your musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems than other forms of strength training because they rely on power generation and intensity as well as high-impact loading.
Note that power is the rate of force development, or speed times force, whereas strength is just force development.
This is why one of the main plyometrics benefits is working on explosive power, and plyometric workouts include dynamic, high-intensity, high-impact movements.
Here are some of the benefits of plyometrics for beginners to competitive athletes alike:
- Increasing heart rate and providing a stimulus to strengthen the efficiency of the cardiovascular system
- Improving both aerobic fitness and anaerobic capacity, in particular
- Training your anaerobic metabolic system to produce ATP or energy through anaerobic energy systems more efficiently
- Increasing explosive power, or the rate of force development
- Building muscle mass, particularly in fast-twitch muscle fibers
- Increasing muscular strength and force development
- Preventing musculoskeletal injuries by strengthening the muscles, tendons, joints, and connective tissues and improving neuromuscular coordination
- Improving balance and kinesthetic awareness
- Improving agility and the ability to precisely coordinate not only your movements at large but also the positioning of your body in space
- Burning calories and supporting fat loss much like high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Increasing metabolic rate after the workout through higher excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC) due to the intensity of plyometric workouts
- Boosting athletic performance through factors such as increasing speed, power, strength, coordination, jumping ability, and height
- Increasing bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis down the line
- Improving joint health
- Increasing flexibility and range of motion
- Boosting mood and self-confidence
- Providing a time-efficient workout due to the vigorous plyometric workout style
How to Get Started With Plyometrics for Beginners
Beginners often feel intimidated by starting plyometrics, particularly if you are an older athlete who may be wary of doing too much high-impact exercise.
If you have osteoporosis or significant osteoarthritis of your knees, hips, ankles, or spine, you should seek medical clearance before beginning plyometric training.
However, even if you are a senior adult, as long as you are healthy, you should be able to get started with beginner plyometric exercises.
Here are a few tips for plyometric workouts for beginners:
#1: Start Slowly
Because plyometric exercises are high-impact, you definitely need to build up gradually to prevent impact injuries such as stress fractures and joint injuries.
Begin with just one or two plyometric workouts per week with just a couple of exercises at most, depending on your current fitness level and workout routine.
Athletes who are already doing high-impact exercise, such as running, will likely be able to handle plyometric workouts more easily, but layering more high-impact plyometric exercises onto an already high-impact workout routine still puts you at risk for injuries.
Therefore, it is best to start with just a couple of beginner plyometric exercises per week and then build up from there.
#2: Focus On Intensity
Plyometric exercises are intended to be vigorous, explosive movements with maximal force generation.
The key to reaping the benefits of plyometrics is maximizing the intensity and explosive speed and force generation, not the number of reps.
For this reason, do fewer reps with maximal effort and take more rest in between reps and sets rather than try to build up doing long sets of low-intensity plyometrics.
Think about trying to jump as high as possible and explode as fast as possible using the mindset that “this is a sprint, not a marathon.”
#3: Choose the Best Beginner Plyometrics Exercises
You may see advanced athletes in your gym doing challenging plyo exercises, but they have likely spent time building their way up to these advanced plyometric workouts.
The best plyometrics for beginners are simple movements that you likely already know how to do technique-wise, but spend deliberate effort in your plyometric workouts to focus on building power through these movements.
Don’t worry about choosing a super tall plyo box for an impressive plyometric box jump right off the bat; just work on mastering plyometric exercises for beginners, like single-leg hops, burpees, and low box jumps.
What Are the Best Plyometric Exercises for Beginners?
Depending on your current fitness level and workout routine, you might be a plyometric training beginner but not a beginner or unfit athlete, or you may be just getting into your fitness routine.
Those who have built up strength already through general weightlifting or resistance training or cardio exercise are able to perform beginner plyometric exercises with more intensity, whereas complete novices should start very slowly with just a couple of basic plyometric drills.
You will need to judge your own readiness for plyometric workouts and consult a personal trainer or physical therapist if you have concerns about the safety of plyometric exercises for your current health status or musculoskeletal injury history.
That said, here are some of the best beginner plyometric exercises to get you started:
Plyometric Exercises for Beginners
- Jumping jacks
- Seal claps
- Jogging, hopping, or jumping on a rebounder, which is a mini trampoline
- Standing two-legged jumps
- Vertical jumps
- Standing single-leg hops
- Single-leg side-to-side hops
- Low plyo box jumps
- Jump squats
- Tuck jumps
- Lateral bounds
- Broad jumps (jumping out forward as far as you can)
- High knees sprinting in place
- Bounding/skipping in a dynamic and explosive way
- Jumping rope
- Low plyo box single-leg lateral hops
- Clapping push-ups from your knees or against the wall if you are not yet able to do them on your feet with your hands on the floor
Start with just 2-4 plyometric exercise per workout.
Depending on the exercise, try 4-8 reps per side.
For another type of cardio plyometric training for beginners, check out our 30-day jump rope challenge here.