Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Category: "Exercise Technique"

Plyometric Safety Considerations

Whenever someone is exercising or performing physical activities, there are inherent dangers that accompany said activities. Plyometric exercise is no exception to this, and may even have more potential dangers involved, but usually only when certain guidelines are not followed. I have detailed some of these guidelines below and given some insight into each.

Pretraining Evaluation of the Athlete

Every individual that wishes to begin plyometric exercise should evaluate their current health and fitness status to determine if they are an appropriate candidate to follow such an intense training regimen.

Technique - Individuals should be not only physically mature, but mentally mature enough to be able to follow instructions to follow correct form and technique. For example, proper technique should be followed to maintain control of the body's center of gravity. A specific example of this would be the body's shoulders staying in line with the knees when performing jumping type exercises.

Strength - For lower body plyometrics, the NSCA recommends that an individual's 1RM squat should be at least 1.5 times their body weight in order to be strong enough to perform plyometric exercises. For upper body, the bench press 1RM should be at least the individual's body weight.

Speed - Again, for lower body plyometrics, the NSCA recommends that an individual be able to 5 reps of the squat with 60% body weight in 5 seconds or less. Upper body speed should be able to perform 5 bench press reps of 60% body weight in 5 seconds or less.

Balance - Plyometric exercises are not always done in a vertical plane, as some plyometric and agility exercises require lateral or horizontal displacements. An individual should have a good level of balance and spatial control over their body so that they reduce their risk for injury when exercising. An example of a balance test would be an individual balancing on one leg for 30 seconds without falling.

Physical Characteristics - Joint disorders, back disorders, or other disorders that affect an individual's ability to control their limbs in a controllable manner could increase the risk of injury. Not only that, but the NSCA recommends that individuals that are over 220 pounds may be at an increased risk of injury due to the immense stresses and strains placed on the body.

Equipment and Facilities

Going beyond the physical demands required for plyometric exercise, certain equipment as well as the area used should be of ideal conditions that are detailed below.

Landing Surface - As shock-absorbing as possible such as a grass field, suspended floor, or rubber mats are the best choices.

Training Area - This category is entirely dependent on the exercise being conducted. Bounding drills may require large horizontal spaces, whereas standing power jumps could be done in a small relative space.

Equipment - Boxes or platforms used for depth jumps, jumping on or off of, should have non-slip surfaces to prevent slipping and injury.

Proper Footwear - Cross training shoes are the best fit for plyometric exercises as they generally have more support for lateral movements of the feet and ankles.

Depth Jumps - This exercise in particular warrants its own category because a height of 48 inches (1.2m) is the recommended maximum height from the NSCA as jumping from a platform any higher than this could cause injury.

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS




Resistance Training 7 Step Approach - Step 2: Exercise Selection

Step 1 detailed the Needs Analysis of an individual to create training schedules based on the analysis of the specific sport and athletic/training ability of the individual. Step 2 is all about Exercise Selection.

Step 2 - Exercise Selection

Plain and simple, a resistance training program should be structured around the muscular needs of the individual for sport performance or goal-oriented needs. Creating a program based on proper rep ranges and intensity loads is crucial to help the individual meet their goals.

Exercise Type

There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of resistance training exercises, all of which can be split into 2 main categories, "Core Exercises" and "Assistance Exercises". Usually, when one thinks of "Core" exercises, we think of those that directly involve the abdominals or midsection. That is not the main reason why the name is derived for the "Core Exercises" I will detail below, but the midsection definitely plays a large part in these moves.

Core exercises are actions that involve large muscle areas (chest, shoulder, back, hip, thigh), involve two or more primary joints, and receive priority when an individual is selecting exercises as these are generally directly related to sport-specific applications. An example of a core exercise would be the bench press as it involves a major muscle group (chest) and uses 2 primary joints (elbow, shoulder).

Assistance exercises usually recruit smaller muscle groups (upper arm, abs, calf, neck, forearm, lower back, lower leg), involve only one primary joint and are generally less-important in improving athletic performance alone. An example of an "Assistance Exercise" would be a bicep curl as it mainly works the muscles of the upper arm, and only acts upon one primary joint (elbow).

Structural exercises are those that directly or indirectly load the spine in some way. A back squat for example places the resistive load directly on the spine causing many muscles to be involved in keeping a rigid torso.

Structural exercises that are performed very quickly are known as "power exercises". A good example of this would be a power clean. Power exercises are a fantastic way to practice sport-specific movements while creating a strong midsection and developing strong, powerful muscles!

Movement Analysis of the Sport

This stage is especially important and related to "Step 1: Needs Analysis" as an individual who trains in resistance movements that are as closely related to their sport-related performance as possible, the more likely their performance will increase. This is known as the "specific adaptation to imposed demands" (SAID) principle.

For example, a sprinter or competitive runner will see tremendous benefits from using weighted lunges in their training as the correct muscle set is involved in both the training and performance of sprinting.

One thing that can not be overlooked however, is muscular balance. Certain muscles not only act as agonists (primary movers) in a movement, but can also act as antagonists to other actions, or sort of a braking mechanism. For example, when you throw a baseball, your triceps muscle is involved in extending your arm at your elbow. As your arm extends, your bicep acts as one of these braking mechanisms in order for your elbow to not hyper-extend. If however, a baseball player strengthens their tricep muscles more than their bicep muscles, they can create a disparity between the two and can increase the likelihood of injury.

Besides muscular imbalance within a limb such as the previous example, muscular imbalance can also be detrimental to athletes who swing a piece of equipment for example. Golfers, baseball players, etc. can experience muscular imbalance as one side of their body may be stronger than the other to develop torsional power. If a well-balanced resistance training program is not implemented, one side of the body will continue to be stronger which can also lead to injury.

Exercise Technique Experience

Very basic theory here, if an athlete does not know how to perform an exercise with correct form and safety, then they should be instructed on how to correctly perform said exercise, and then start off with just small increases in intensity. For example, a distance runner may not have experience in the weight room, and has never done weighted lunges before. They should start off first learning what the correct form of a lunge is, then slowly adding weight as they improve strength and form.

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS