beginner plyos

Top 13 Plyometric Exercises For Beginners

August 01, 2021

We are here to introduce 13 plyometric exercises for beginners plus all the benefits that come from doing them. Train using plyometric exercises to lose fat, run faster, jump higher, hit harder and reduce risk of injury. Plyometric training has been around for almost half a century now and is still being used to create some of the best athletes in the world. Read on to see how even beginners can start to use plyometrics exercises.

how do I start plyometrics

What are plyometrics?

The word plyometrics was coined by Fred Wilt, a former US Olympic long-distance runner. The word comes from the Greek words plio meaning more and metric meaning to measure. Today you might hear people referring to plyometrics as simply, plyos.

Plyometrics were first developed by scientists from the Soviet Bloc during the Cold War in the 1960s-1970s. The scientist leading the charge in this new training protocol was Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky. He designed a series of exercises called “jump training” where athletes would complete multiple jump exercises to try to increase speed and explosiveness. He published his findings on this new method of training in 1964. It was no coincidence that during this time frame the Soviet Bloc countries were crushing everyone in track and field events (they possibly had some extra help from some performance enhancers as well during this time).

This original “jump training” employed the use of the shock method where an athlete would drop down from a raised platform then upon hitting the ground would experience a “shock”. This created a forced eccentric contraction which was then converted immediately into a concentric contraction as the athlete would jump immediately after landing. This all happened in a short time frame of .1-.2 seconds. Dr. Verkhoshansky tried many other exercises but he found the best results when using this depth jump to replicate the forces of landing and takeoff.

Fred Wilt saw this style and took notes of how athletes were jumping and skipping around. Wilt later teamed up with Michael Yessis who had spent time in the Soviet Union and worked with Dr. Verkhoshansky. From the early 1980’s Yessis continued to develop new methods of using the principles of jump training to enhance explosive power.

Plyometrics has since become an important aspect of many athlete’s training regimens, from the original shock method of Dr. Verkhoshansky to more varied plyometric exercises being used today. In modern day fitness training, you will hear the word plyometrics being applied to multiple exercises not just the original jump training. The world of fitness continues to evolve with people now referring to multiple explosive movements as plyometrics, even including exercises like pushups.

How do plyometrics improve explosive power?

Plyometrics are so effective at improving explosive movements because they take advantage of opposing muscle contractions. These contractions are when the muscles are shortened or lengthened. Force is produced on both sides of these contractions. The three major segments including both types of muscle contractions that create the stretch-shortening cycle are:

  • Eccentric Contractions: This is when the muscles are stretching and lengthening while still producing force. The stretching muscle stores potential energy in its elastic components. This is the loading, cocking or absorption phase. You can think of when basketball players bend at the knees before getting ready to spring up into the air.
  • Amortization Phase: This is the transition time between the eccentric and concentric contractions of the muscle. The dynamic stabilization happens as the muscle rebounds from storing the energy to releasing it. It’s important to note that if this phase lasts too long some of the potential energy can be lost.
  • Concentric Contractions: This is when muscles are shortening while still producing force. The stored force or elastic energy is released in this phase propelling you up into the air. This is where the basketball player actually jumps up off the ground.

In this post we mainly focus on plyometrics that are jumping movements. The landing portion of the jump causes the muscles to lengthen, creating the eccentric contraction while the jumping portion of the exercise is when the muscles shorten, causing the concentric contraction. It’s important to keep the time in between these two segments as short as possible to reap the most benefits of doing plyometrics.

Benefits of Plyometrics

There are multiple benefits of doing plyometrics including the enhanced performance of nerves, tendons, and muscles so that you can run faster, jump higher and hit harder. Plyometric exercises can help you to excel in dynamic sports and can also improve many aspects of your daily life, including reducing the chances of suffering ACL injuries.

Quicker Nerves: Plyometrics involve different contraction forces, resulting in sending messages to your brain through your neuromuscular system. Because plyometrics revolve around quick explosive movements the neuromuscular system has to work in overdrive thus improving its functioning by enabling  contraction and relaxation of your muscles quickly.

Stronger Tendons: Plyometrics require strong tendons because the movements are fast and powerful. By performing plyometrics you build up the strength and elasticity in the tendons which might help you to avoid injuries in the future.

More Powerful Muscles: Due to the nature of the explosiveness of plyometrics, muscle fibers must convert strength into speed. Plyometrics can actually strengthen and increase the amount of fast-twitch muscle fibers in your muscles. The stronger and more abundant fast-twitch muscle fibers equal faster muscle contraction.

Improve Athletic Performance: Whether you’re an athlete or not, plyometric exercises can enhance physical prowess. If done right plyometric exercises can increase your vertical jump height and long jump distance. Plyometrics have been proven to reduce sprint time, improve running economy, enhance joint position awareness and lead to better postural control.

Injury Reduction: Strengthened tendons equate to fewer injuries. This study showed that plyometrics coupled with dynamic stabilization exercises reduced ACL injury risk.

Burns Calories & Reduces Fat: The explosive nature of plyometrics means that your body has to produce a lot of force/power to propel your bodyweight off the ground. This type of movement requires your muscles to consume a lot of energy leading to more calories burned in shorter time periods. The high intensity of plyometric exercises also enable you to burn more calories post exercise as you can end up in EPOC (excess  post exercise oxygen consumption) up to 48 hours after a plyometric workout.

13 Best Plyometrics Exercises for Beginners

Plyometrics are no walk in the park, so it’s vitally important that you are completely warmed up before attempting to do plyometric exercises. Explosive exercises such as plyometrics are an intense workout with high impact potential. If you are a beginner than you should consult with your doctor or trainer to make sure your body is in a condition that can take the toll from a plyometric workout.

If you have the strength and stamina to do plyometric exercises then you should start slowly with the easier plyometric exercises before attempting the more challenging movements. The following 13 beginner plyometric exercises are listed by the degree of difficulty, starting with the easiest first.

Follow these guidelines when performing thee following plyometric exercises for beginners:

  • Make sure to focus on form first then you can turn up the intensity.
  • Try performing these plyometric exercises for beginners on a shock absorbing surface to reduce the impact on your joints when landing.
  • Take adequate rest between sets. Your resting time should be 5-10 times the length of time it takes to complete the set. So if a set of 10 Frog Hops takes 10 seconds you should rest for at least 50 seconds before moving on to the next set.

1. Frog Hops

This plyometric exercise engages all the major muscles in the lower body including the glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. The core is also worked during frog hops to help keep the body upright. The frog hop will act as a plyometric as well as a deep dynamic stretch because you will start and end in a wide squat position.

is plyometrics good for beginners

How to:

  • Start with your hands on the back of your head then lower down into a squat position with feet angled out and your legs spread wide
  • Explode up through the ground, jumping up and forwards
  • Land softly in the same squatting position and immediately repeat jumping movement
  • Complete desired reps

Note: To make this exercise more friendly for beginners you can try completing frog hops by jumping straight up instead of up and forward.

2. Broad Jump

In this exercise the goal is to see how far forward you can jump from your starting position without any movement beforehand. Broad jumps require leg strength, power and explosiveness. All the major muscles in your legs will have to work hard to send your body forward through the air. Adding the arm swing also engages your upper body and allows for a great stretch.

plyometric workout for beginners

How to:

  • Stand with feet shoulder with apart
  • Slowly recoil down to a low squat position while leaning forward, keeping your back straight with your arms up behind you
  • Explode through the ground by pushing through the balls of your feet and swing your arms forward, jumping as far as you can
  • Land gently then immediately transition into another jump
  • Repeat for desired reps

Note: Try performing this exercise next to objects or even a tape measure so that you can see the distance that you jump, this will give you a benchmark to work from while trying to improve it over time.

3. Squat Tuck Jump

The squat tuck jump is an amazing exercise to boost the power of your lower body. This exercise will improve your jumping ability while getting your heart rate pumping leading to more calories burned in a shorter time.

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  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands together in front of your chest
  • Lower down into a squat position while leaning forward slightly
  • Explode into the air by pushing through the balls of your feet
  • Keeping your back straight throughout the movement. Tuck your knees up to your chest as much as possible mid-air
  • Land gently then immediately repeat the movement
  • Complete desired reps

Note: You can try to swing your arms to gain momentum on the way up. Try to continue to jump higher, bringing your knees closer to your chest each jump.

4. Star Jumps

This is a great full body plyometric exercise that improves explosiveness and quickness. Moving all your limbs in concert adds a level of complexity because you must send these signals through your neuromuscular system quickly. This exercise works all your major lower body muscles including your adductors. Lifting your arms out to your sides also targets your delts.

beginner plyo workout

How to:

  • Stand with feet together with your arms at your side
  • Slightly bend your knees then explode up by pushing through the balls of your feet, spread your legs out to the sides while you raise your arms up and out to shoulder level
  • Bring your arms and legs down to starting position as you land gently
  • Immediately repeat movement from above
  • Complete desired reps

Note: To make this exercise a little easier try to get the lower body movement down before adding in the arm movement to match.

5. Scissor Jumps

Scissor jumps engage the larger lower body muscles including glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. This exercise will increase power and strength in the lower body. You can improve your coordination as you will be switching stance mid exercise then landing with your feet position switched.

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How to:

  • Start in a staggered stance with your right leg in front, left leg behind you. Your arms should be in the opposite position, with your right arm back and left arm forward
  • Explode through the balls of your front foot jumping into the air. While in air make a transition where your legs and arm change position, landing gently in the opposite stance.
  • Repeat above movement immediately upon landing, returning to starting position
  • Complete desired reps

Note: Make these more difficult by incorporating a weighted vest and/or ankle weights.

6. Lateral Hops

Lateral hops are a fantastic exercise as they are a unilateral exercise. This exercise will challenge your balance and coordination as your stabilizing muscles need to work hard to keep you under control. Your hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and calves have to work in unison to complete this one.

how do I get started in plyometrics

How to:

  • Start with your hands up out in front of you and standing on one leg with your knee slightly bent while you lift your other foot off the ground
  • Jump laterally by pushing off the balls of your foot  trying to go as far as possible
  • Land softly on your opposite foot then immediately jump back to starting position
  • Complete desired reps

Note: Make sure you are in an area where you have enough space to jump side to side without obstacles in your way. To make this exercise easier start slowly and take your time when landing, get your balance before jumping back to the other side.

7. Front Plank Side Hop

This exercise combines a few movements and engages multiple muscle groups. It is a plyometric exercise that works not only your lower body muscles but also your core and shoulders. If you’ve ever done planks you know those alone are difficult but adding the explosive jumping movements will be a real challenge.

full body plyometric workout

How to:

  • Get into plank position with your legs straight and arms stacked under your shoulders
  • Push through the balls of your feet and kick your legs up while bending your knees and keeping your back straight
  • Land on the balls of your feet to one side of your body with knees bent at 90 degrees and your calves parallel to the ground
  • Push off through your feet once again repeating the above motion but land on the opposite side of your body
  • Once more push through the balls of your feet, kicking up and return back to plank position with your legs straight behind you. This is one complete rep.
  • Repeat for desired reps

Note: Focus on controlling each portion of this exercise by making sure your core is engaged throughout the movement.

8. Backward Forward Jumps

Backward forward jumps are a great way to shock your muscles as we don’t tend to jump in multi-directions often, especially backwards. This new stimuli on the lower body muscles leads to better balance and stability and at the same time can increase power and explosiveness.

plyo exercises for beginners

How to:

  • Stand with feet hip width apart in a quarter squat, leaning forward slightly with your arms down to the sides
  • Explode off the ground by pushing through the balls of your feet jumping backwards while swinging your arms upwards
  • Gently land and immediately recoil into a quarter squat position with your arms back and up behind you then jump forwards to the starting position
  • Repeat for desired reps

Note: It may take some time getting used to jumping backwards so start small and make sure you are comfortable before increasing the distance and intensity.

9. Double Leg Butt Kick

This plyometric jumping exercise not only can increase your power and strength but can also act as a dynamic stretch for the quadriceps. Double leg butt kicks are a great aerobic exercise that can improve the efficiency of the stride and might help to boost the speed of hamstring contractions leading to faster running ability.

benefits of plyometrics

How to:

  • Stand with feet hip width apart and knees bent slightly
  • Explode off the ground and kick back your heels to touch your butt
  • Land gently with your knees bent then immediately jump up again
  • Complete for desired reps

Note: Try to increase the speed of jumps while shortening landing time.

10. Jumping Lunges

This is the more advanced version of walking lunges where you will have to jump to transition to the opposite lunge. This is a challenging plyometric exercise that will target the glutes, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors and calves. You will need to activate your core and stabilizing muscles when performing jumping lunges. The takeoff, landing and transition require high level of coordination and balance.

what are plyometrics

How to:

  • Start in a deep lunge position with one leg forward and one behind with both knees bent at 90 degrees
  • Jump up while switching position in mid air while swinging your arms to help propel you up
  • Land softly with your opposite leg forward, immediately lift off again to repeat the same jumping movement
  • Complete desired reps

Note: To make this movement easier in the beginning you can start and land in a high split stance then once your more comfortable with the movement you can complete in a lunge position.

11. Front Box Jump

One of the quintessential plyometric exercises, box jumps engage the glutes, quadriceps and calves. Front box jumps are great for improving your vertical jumping height while also increasing explosiveness in the lower body. They also burn tons of calories and help you improve your balance and coordination.

can I do plyometric exercises everyday

How to:

  • Place a plyo box/platform or bench about 6 inches in front of you
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Lower down into a squat position and swing your arms behind you
  • Push through the ground and swing your arms up, jumping up onto the box
  • Land gently on the platform on the balls of your feet
  • Hop down to the ground
  • Repeat for desired reps

Note: To make this easier lower the platform's height. To increase difficultly you can increase the height of the platform or add weight with equipment like a weighted vest.

12. Lateral Box Jump

Similar to the box jump, the lateral jump requires you to jump up onto a raised platform. The difference here is that you’ll be jumping to the side which forces your muscles to contract in a different manner. This is a great exercise for athletes as many dynamic sports involve moving laterally in explosive movements.

best plyometric exercises

How to:

  • Set up platform about 6 inches to your side
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Lower down into a squat position and swing your arms behind you
  • Push through the ground and swing your arms up, jumping up to the side landing on the platform
  • Land gently on the platform on the balls of your feet
  • Hop down to the ground on the other side of the platform then jump back towards the starting side
  • Repeat for desired reps

Note: Make sure the platform you’re landing on is sturdy and start at a low height until you are comfortable enough to do at least 10 reps each side before increasing the platform’s height.

13. Plyo Pushup

This upper body plyometric exercise will get those fast twitch muscle fibers in the chest, triceps, abs and shoulders firing.  The difference between a regular pushup and a plyo pushup is the “jumping” component where you’re meant to explode lifting your hands off the ground.

plyometrics for beginners

How to:

  • Get into pushup position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width and leg straight out behind you with your back straight
  • Slowly lower your chest until it’s a few inches from the ground
  • Push through your hands with explosive force so that your hands come up off the ground
  • Land gently and immediately perform next rep
  • Repeat for desired reps

Note: To make plyo pushups easier you can do them with your knees bent, touching the ground. To increase difficulty, turn the plyo pushup into a clapping pushup, clapping your hands together while in mid air.

Related: Pushups With Resistance Bands: How To, Variations & Muscles Worked

Plyometric Workout for Beginners

Here is an example of a good plyometric workout for beginners...

You will complete 3 rounds of the following exercises with 30-60 seconds rest between each exercise:

  1. Frog Hops 10 reps
  2. Scissor Jumps 10 reps (5 each side)
  3. Broad Jumps 5 reps (as far as possible)
  4. Squat Tuck Jumps 6 reps (as high as possible)

Related: 26 Bodyweight Leg Exercises For Muscle, Strength & Explosive Power

Are Plyometrics HIIT?

Plyometrics exercises can be incorporated into a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workout but they aren’t technically the same as HIIT. HIIT training is based around time intervals of high intensity exercises which can be anything from pushup to situps. It’s possible to do a HIIT workout while performing only plyometrics.

Related: HIIT For Beginners: 18 Exercises Plus 5 Workouts

What Age Can You Start Plyometrics?

Studies have shown that plyometrics that are implemented at a young age can result in positive benefits, perhaps even improving future performance. By being exposed to stretch shortening cycles at a young age the body can adapt and improve performance. At young ages plyometric training is usually conducted at a low to intermediate level. Intense plyometrics like depth jumps might not be suitable for youngsters as this is an advanced form of plyometrics.

How Often Should I Do Plyometric Exercises?

Due to the intensity of plyometrics the frequency in which you should do them is less than you would for normal bodyweight exercises. Studies have shown that lower to moderate frequency of plyometric exercises produce superior results. The optimal frequency for doing plyometric exercises seems to be twice a week in order to gain strength, improve performance and enhance agility.

best beginner plyometric exercises

CONCLUSION

Although plyometrics are an advanced style of training, beginners can still become competent at doing plyometric exercises if they get the form down. These exercises might look intimidating at first glance but just think back for a second to remember those days that you were doing jumping jacks in school gym class; yes those could be considered plyometrics in today's vernacular.



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