Benefits of Plyometric Training
If you're looking to burn calories, then you've come to the wrong place. Plyometrics are not performed to burn calories but to increase muscle power and responsiveness. Plyometrics train the muscles by practicing fast and explosive movements, not by means of long and repetitive motions. The three key benefits of plyometric training are: increased muscluar power, prevent injuries, and boost high end abilities like sprinting or jumping.
Power is vastly different from strength. Power relates to one's ability to apply force quickly (such as jumping) as opposed to strength which refers to one's ability to simply displace weight. A real world example of this would be to take a bodybuilder who can leg press 800lbs and a kick boxer who can only leg press 400lbs. If we had each individual kick a training bag, the trained kick boxer will exhibit greater power and apply more force to the bag than the bodybuilder. This demonstration exemplifies how the bodybuilder may have more strength but the kick boxer has more power.
For many professional athletes, their careers depend upon how quickly their bodies can react and operate. Unfortunately, the demand for these quick responses places the body under a great deal of stress. By performing plyometric exercises in addition to regular strength training exercises and regularly stretching, athletes can build up all forms of muscular fibers which leads them to be less susceptible to injury.
Plyometrics target the fast-twitch muscle fibers. An activity like jogging targets the slow-twitch muscle fibers. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are exercised by executing movements quickly, therefore requiring the muscles to rapidly contract. Activities like long distance running allows the muscles to contract slowly (and sometimes not even fully contract as the stride does not require it).
Boost high end abilities
For an athlete looking to gain an edge in a particular sport, plyometrics is a great way to bring their skills to the next level. With proper training, plyometrics will increase an athlete's vertical jump, enhance their ability to make quick lateral movements, allow for greater punching/kicking force, and of course, it allows for one to increase their top running speed.
The benefits of plyometric training are great and essential for any athlete looking to improve their performance. A word of caution: plyometrics can be dangerous if one is not properly warmed up and supervised. Never start a workout off with plyometrics, be sure to stretch and warm up the muscles with some light weight lifting or jogging prior to performing any activities that require fast response muscle movements.