|Image 1 (musclemag.com): You don't have to restrict your plyometrics to leg exercises - plyometric push ups, for example can help you to build a bigger chest and a bigger bench.|
What about you? When was the last time you counted the seconds it took you to compile the concentric phase of a squat? What about "plyos" (=plyometric exercises) do you have some in your current routine? No? According to the results of a recently published study by Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal and his Spanish co-workers, this may be a mistake - at least if your goal is not solely to maximize muscle size, but also muscle function.
Plateau busting plyometrics and power building explosives - more than just hilarious bogus?
In a randomized trial, 60 active male physical education students (78.3kg body weight; 12.7% body fat; 20.4y mean age) were randomly assigned to one out of five training groups. For the subsequent 7 weeks the students performed one of the following exercise regimen (see A-E in table 1) three times per week for a total of 21 sessions (participants were instructed to avoid any strenuous physical activity and to maintain their usual dietary habits for the duration of the study).
|Video 1 (click to watch): Loaded countermove- ment jumps (CMJLoaded)|
- whether the combination training (A) would elicit similar performance increases as a specialized training routine and
- which of the specialized training routines (B-E) would elicit the greatest effects on the two outcome variables of the study.
30m sprint improvements: C > A > B > D > E - but all below 1% and not significantly different
And despite the fact that none of the improvements did result in significantly improved 30m sprint times (A: 0.23%; B: 0.13%; C: 0.33%; D: −0.68%; E −0.91%), there were statistical significant differences in the dynamic strength / power (measured via 1-RM full squats), as well as the maximal velocity of displacement during the full squat (a measure of the explosiveness), between the five study arms that may give us some clues in terms of what type of training could promote your individual training goals best.
|Figure 1: Relative changes in full squat 1RM and full squat velocity (left) and ratio of power (1RM) and explosiveness (velocity) improvements (right) after 7 weeks on the 5 different protocols (based on Sáez de Villarreal. 2012)|
- want to become more explosive; in that case, you would perform regimen C, because despite the fact that regimen E may be similarly specific (see figure 1, right), the overall increase in full squat velocity with C was 33% greater than with regimen E (25% vs. 16%).
- want to improve your overall power; in that case you would perform regimen A, because neither the classic power protocol B nor the surprisingly power-specific CMJloaded protocol D (see video 1) elicit similarly pronounced gains in 1-RM squat performance as the combined protocol.
But that's unfair - the volume was much higher!
|Image 2 (muscle-fitness-tips.net): Plyos make an excellent addition to every routine, no matter if you want to gain muscle, build strength or agility or just don't want to do the same boring workout all the time. If you need some inspiration on which ones you could simply add to your current routine, check out the exrx.net list and pick your favorites.|
I could probably come up with a dozen of other "confounding factors" and "things to consider", but in the end we have to cope with what we have and based on the data from this study it does not appear to be too far-fetched that you could also benefit from incorporating some explosive CMJs (or jump squats) and plyometrics into your regimen - even if it was for nothing else than a speed and agility building, fat burning body weight based HIIT protocol you can perform at the end of your regular workout sessions and even when you are traveling!
|In case you are looking for the best classic exercises click on the body part above to see the most effective ones|
- ExRx.net. Plyometrics and Power Exercises: Instruction and Movement Analysis. < http://www.exrx.net/Lists/PowerExercises.html > retrieved July 15, 2012.
- Sáez de Villarreal E, et al. Enhancing sprint and strength performance: Combined versus maximal power, traditional heavy-resistance and plyometric training. J Sci Med Sport. 2012.
- SportStrong.uk. Loaded Countermovement Jump. YouTube Video < youtube.com/?v=f69faqO1tto > retrieved July 15, 2012.