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Can plyometrics increase my lifting performance?

Yes, ploymetrics can definetely increase your lifting performance. Plyometrics take advantage of whats called the stretch shortening cycle. Your muscles have an elastic quality to them which if exploited through plyometrics allows your muscles to contract more quickly and to recruit more motor fiber units. This means you'll use more muscle, and use it more explosively to lift a weight. Increasing strength is largely about your ability to recruit lots of muscle fibers quickly. Regular plyometric training has been shown to dramatically increase one rep max bench and squat strength without any other changes in a persons lifting performance. Start slow and gradually increase both the volume and intensity of ploymetrics. Do not increase volume and intensity in the same week, and never increase one or the other by than 5% on a week to week basis.
Powerlifting is a sport that requires high levels of strength to be successful in competition. Strength from a technical standpoint is defined as the total amount of force you can exert on an object. Power on the other hand is defined is the amount of force you can exert divided by the time in which you exert the force. In other words, if you have two athletes who can both deadlift 500lbs they are both equally strong, but if one athlete can deadlift the weight in 30 seconds and athlete number two can lift it in 15 seconds, athlete # 2 is the more powerful athlete. Generating a lot of power at the beginning of the pushing phase of a lift will speed up the bar and make it easier to complete the lift, so adding power to strength will make you a better lifter. Plyometrics help to increase power production. Plyometrics take advantage of what is known as the "stretch shortening cycle". Your muscles, ligaments and tendons have an elastic component similar to rubber bands. When you jump off a box and land, or squat down, ligaments and tendons of the body are stretched slightly and there is stored elastic energy in those tissues. For example, if you squat down and stay in that position, the stored energy is quickly lost. However if you immediately reverse the squat and stand up quickly, you can combine the stored elastic energy with the power of your muscles and tendons as you contract, to create a movement that is more powerful than just a contraction alone. Plyometric training teaches your body to maximize stored elastic energy and convert it to exert maximal power when you move. Start slow and build a good foundation for plyometrics. Start with learning to stabilize the body after you land from jumps or upper body plyometric movements. For lower body plyometrics, you should be able to land in an athletic position without your knees buckling in wards. Once you can maintain this position graduate to movements in which you land and rebound immediately into another jump. Then eventually progress to advance movements such as dropping from height, landing and then immediately jumping onto another box, or leaping outwards. For upper body plyometrics start with stabilizing by catching a med ball for a chest pass, or dropping into a plyometric push up. Then progress into catching the ball and exploding throwing it back, or into plyometric pushups. If done properly a plyometrics program will add power to your game and help become a better power lifter.

  Yes.  Plyometrics are in the Power Stage of NASM's Optimum Performance Training (OPT) model and are used for training your body to produce the most force in the least amount of time.  Using plyometrics correctly can add another strong dimension to your body’s ability to lift weight. 

  Currently I cycle a routine focusing on maximal strength one month and hypertrophy the next and I will often superset both my maximal strength and hypertrophy exercises with plyometrics.  However, it is important to remember that plyometrics are high impact exercises and your tendons and ligaments need a lot more time to grow and repair , so you should allow more time between plyometric routines than for normal lifting routines (ie: Monday – hypertrophy/plyometrics, Wednesday – hypertrophy only, Friday – hypertrophy/plyometrics.) 

  You also want to make sure that your body is ready for the punishment.  I wouldn’t recommend anyone start doing plyometrics as part of a beginning routine or coming back off of an exercise break.  Again, these are very high impact exercises and can very easily cause an injury for those who haven’t properly prepared and conditioned their bodies

  Starting out, I would recommend doing one exercise 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps for chest and back, and 1-2 exercises for legs.  This will give you the most bang for your buck because you will be working both you major and minor muscle groups with each exercise.  I personally love plyometric pushups for chest, speed pull-downs or medicine ball chops for back, and standing long jumps and wind sprints for legs (these are great for off-the-line power for football or soccer players.)  If you want to add height to your vertical jump for basketball, then squat jumps or box jumps are excellent.

  Good luck and have fun!

-Isaac

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.