Think plyometrics are just for getting your sweat on and increasing your cardio and foot speed? Think again! Plyos can be hugely effective if you’re looking to build muscle. And guess what one of the best ways of decreasing fat is? Replacing it with lean, mean muscle.
Of course, not every plyo exercise is created equal when it comes to building muscle. (Sorry, don’t expect to get build lean muscle on your ankles doing ladder work.) So we’ve compiled a handy guide of the five best muscle-building plyo workouts for those of you who want to incorporate a little more movement into your daily lift.
1. Squat Jumps: Have your leg gains plateaued? Do your quads need a boost? Go hard on squat jumps to recruit more muscle fibres and get over the hump. If you’re already in decent shape, start with three sets of ten.
2. Plyo Pushups: Plyo pushups are like squat jumps for your chest! Really explode up from the ground if you want to get the most out of these. Power is the name of the game. Start with three sets of ten if you can. If you can’t get to ten, finish the set on your knees instead of on your toes.
3. Skipping: Ever since that one episode of Entourage, everyone’s been self-conscious about their calves. (No? Just me?) Well, self-conscious or not, plyometrics can be a great way to strengthen the gastrocnemius. We recommend skipping. Many people don’t think of skipping when they think of plyometrics. But the old boxing stand-by is unquestionably a plyometric. Skip at a fast pace keeping your weight on your toes until your calves start to burn. Then keep going. As your calves get stronger and it takes longer to feel the burn, switch to one leg at a time.
4. Jumping Scissor Lunges: Jumping scissor lunges aren’t as hard or as complicated as the name would suggest. They’re essentially squat jumps, but from a lunge position. Unless you’re already in phenomenal shape, these will destroy your glutes if you do them as powerfully as you can. Again, start with three sets of 12 (six per side).
5. Side Plank Star: Ok, side plank stars won’t make your muscles look bigger, but we can’t ignore the core! A strong core is at the … what’s the word … heart of a powerful frame. Make sure to keep your body as straight as possible the entire time, focusing more on proper technique than power. If you tack these on the end of a plyo workout that incorporates the other four exercises above, you’ll be thankful for the relative break! Start with three sets of 25 per side.
If you’re not used to doing explosive exercises, then approach these plyos with caution the first time out. Having a personal trainer show you the proper form is highly recommended!
(Photo credit: Everkinetic (http://everkinetic.com/) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)