As with many fitness questions, it depends on how you define plyometrics. Academically, it implies that you take the targeted muscles (quads, for example) to the point of maximal stretch, then vigorously contract the targeted muscles to accomplish their typical movement. For example, if you jump off a 12 inch bench, especially if loaded with a barbell or dumbells, into a position of knee flexion (which stretches the quads), then jump as high as you can, knee extension as a result of quad contraction is the primary mover, gastroc-soleus, gluts are secondary. In other words, ankle plantar flexion and hip extension are secondary to knee extension in this example.
The benefits of this type of training in power and performance training are undeniable. In a general fitness training program, however, the key concern is the current fitness level of your client. I’m not an advocate of true power plyometrics for an untrained client, as the adaptation of connective tissue (ligaments, tendons) is most likely not sufficient to withstand the tissue stress.
Modified plyometrics can be used in most any training situation. Just jumping up and down, for example, can be considered to be a form of plyometrics. The benefits are the exercise stress to the tissues involved to stimulate them to adapt and become stronger. Doing a pushup where you have your client push up off the floor with both hands until the hands are off the floor, then come back down into shoulder horizontal extention and elbow flexion and repeat the movement is a plyometric exercise.
The long term benefits….power. Work through a distance over time. The trail down is a greater resistance to the stresses of endurance exercise…running, cycling, cross-country skiing, swimming, and on and on, not to mention strength and power weight lifting.
The quick answer:
Plyometrics train your body to handle generalized ground reaction forces in relation to gravity. If you or your client engages in activities where they rarely encounter forces other than gravity, plyometrics are an excellent way to manage improved daily function, balance, power, and athleticism.
Plyometrics also have the benefit of being almost infinitely modifiable by the fitness expert to suit the needs of a client. Techniques can be taught quickly and tweaked easily to engage multiple skill levels and ability ranges.
Further, the threshold for plyometric exercise can be altered quickly to induce greater muscular power, muscular endurance, or both.
Properly performed and instructed plyometrics will enhance any training routine and make the trainer’s services infinitely mobile as well since no equipment is required to perform these exercises.
Have fun with plyos and introduce your clients to new skill levels they never knew they had!
One of the main benefits of plyometrics is developing the ability to produce power. I use this type of training quite often with the athletes I train, and I’ve used it (when appropriate of course) with general fitness clients. It teaches them to use their muscles in a way that they can combine their strength with speed to move things (or themselves) quickly. I wrote an article on this subject and would be glad to share it with you if you email me.
I hope this helps.
I don’t see any mention of plyo’s being a bone strengthener…so here it is:
Plyo’s also build bone strength and bone density….
Plyo’s are a wonderful addition for all the reasons mentioned above – and the training adaptation will add to one’s reactive strength and power, explosive power, speed, and agility, but also strengthen the fascia, bones, joints, ligaments, tissues – and of course, our muscles…
Just remember it needs to be tailored to the client’s capabilities otherwise injury is right around the corner!