Kick Up Your Workout With Plyometrics - Gain Strength and Power

Plyometrics are exercises that are explosive movements that will not only build muscle mass but torch calories. They specifically target fast twitch muscle fibers and improve your power and agility. They are great for athletes looking to improve their times and performance, but can be an excellent addition to any fitness regime. For athletes they will increase your raw speed, make you more responsive, and that power will mean a better finishing kick at the end or your races; and for sprinters it also means more explosiveness out of the blocks. Plyometrics are hardly limited to runners and virtually all sports incorporate some version of them; think anything that requires jumping, a quick reaction, and raw speed.

Because they are anaerobic in nature and usually involve maximum efforts, they will boost your metabolism not only when doing the moves, but also in what is known as the after-burn effect, when your resting metabolic rate will be elevated for hours even after you've stopped exercising. The subsequent muscle mass that you build will further enhance the number of calories your body burns throughout the day because a pound of muscle consumes vastly more calories than a pound of fat. For these reasons these moves are appealing to anyone looking to get leaner and more fit.

Adding plyometrics to any regime needs to be done gradually and you need to be extra aware of your form through each movement. Because they are powerful, almost all-out efforts, as you tire your body will be more apt to 'cheat' or not do the activity correctly and you could be more prone to an injury if you aren't conscious. Just be certain to take your time and also know that while you may not feel sore during the workout, you will definitely feel the effort later on, so start out with only one set and then work your way up to three sets that you can do three times a week with at least a day of rest between them.

* Box Jumps:
Find a box or raised stationary bench or step. Facing the box, load yourself by getting into a low squat and prepare yourself for a leap onto the box. Return to the ground and do this 10 times. As you advance, increase the height of the box.
* Single Leg Hops: Balance on one leg and jump forward as far as you can with each hop. Do 10 on each leg.
* Squat Jumps For Distance: Standing with feet just about shoulder width apart, lower into a deep squat and thrust yourself forward as far as you can. Think about a standing long-jumper. Do this 10 times.
* Star Jumps: Stand with your feet together and arms at your sides. Jump high off the ground and as you do so kick your legs out to the sides and lift your arms over your head. This moves looks something like a jumping-jack from your old PE days.
* Bounds: For a distance of 30 meters aim to make each bound as long as possible; think of exploding off of each toe-off and then eating up as much air. Immediately as you land push off with the next leg to keep one fluid movement. Do two lengths of 30 meters alternating which leg you lead with.
* High skips:
Again for 30 meters skip up and off the ground to try to gain as much height as you can with each lift off. Do two lengths starting alternating which leg you lead off with.

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