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Utilising plyometric training: Training adaptations and


considerations.
Plyometric training is commonly portrayed as that standard procedure in
training muscular power within upper and lower body limbs and improves
athletic performance (Markovic and Jukic, 2007). From a physiological
point of view Chu et al. (1999) claims that the aim behind plyometrics is
to convert resistance applied to an eccentric muscular contraction into an
equal or greater concentric contraction, often referred to as the stretchshortening cycle. More specifically, plyometric training is believed to
enhance power and speed in conjunction with reaction time similar to the
characteristics of a competitive sporting situation (Inci Karadenizli, 2013).
Similarly Ebben (2007) stated that plyometric exercise can be classed as
jumping, bounding or throwing exercises which train fast-twitch muscle
fibres as well as the nerves and reflexes which activate them.
Implementing the concepts behind plyometrics into practical use
considers factors such as environment (sand, grass or aquatic),
combination training and training intensity all of which will be explored
throughout this article. Common plyometric exercise techniques mainly
consist of a jumping or explosive nature such as standing jumps, depth
jumps, bounding, throwing and pushing (Chu, 1999) all of which can be
administered bilaterally as well as unilaterally.
Guidelines behind plyometric training implementation should consider
frequency, volume, and intensity and rest periods to ensure effective
training adaptations. The general recommendation for frequency of
plyometric training programmes is two to three sessions per week, but
this should consider factors such as fatigue and interference of other
formats of training (aerobic) when designing a programme (Ebben, 2007).
In terms of volume, Ebben (2007) stated that sets should consist of a
maximum of ten repetitions but lower repetitions with higher intensity is
often favoured to encourage the training of power. Volume considerations
also include foot contacts per session and it is thought that athletes
beginning in plyometric training should perform at least 80 to as many as
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100 foot contacts per session, obviously considering intensity within this
as well with more complex exercises being more energy expending than
others (Ebben, 2007). Rest periods are calculated by multiplying the set
length from anywhere between five and ten times depending on intensity
and level of ability. The intensity of plyometric exercises mostly relates to
exercise variation and progression such as bilateral to unilateral
progression, the increase of box height, exercise performed with added
weight and the inclusion of overhead targets are ways to increase exercise
intensity (Ebben, 2007).
The execution of plyometric training in different environments provides
different responses to the joints and muscles the main environmental
comparisons being between firm surfaces and aquatic or sand based
environments. Miller et al. (2002) propose that the weight bearing status
of an athlete reduces when in water, chest deep water creating 30-40%
and waist deep water 47-60% of total body weight respectively. Taking this
into consideration Miller et al. (2002) stated that this reduced weight
status subsequently reduces joint loading making aquatic based
plyometrics appropriate for pre-land based plyometrics work as well as a
rehabilitation technique for joint and muscle injuries. The components of
aquatic based plyometrics can also be considered as a progressive stage
of plyometrics due to surface, profile and wave drag providing increased
resistance to explosive movements performed in water submersion.
Despite these suggestions Stemm and Jacobson (2007) conducted landbased versus water-based plyometric training and found that there was no
difference in strength gains between the two environments, but did
highlight the reduction of muscle soreness and signs of reduced injury
risk. When comparing sand-based plyometrics to firm surface Impellizzeri
et al. (2008) found similarities to the aquatic environment in that jumping
exercises induced less muscle damage than firm surface exercise. Whilst
also considering this surface for rehabilitation purposes Impellizzeri et al.
(2008) proposed its inclusion within a pre-season training schedule to limit
overuse injury risk of a firm surface. In spite of this it was also found that
sand-based plyometrics resulted in the loss elastic energy use during the
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landing phase as a result of the surface (Impellizzeri et al., 2008) reducing


the power related benefits and competitive exercise similarities.
Combination training is another plyometric training approach which
involves the grouping of a strength training exercise with a
biomechanically similar plyometric exercise often labelled a complex
group (Alemdarolu et al., 2013). This approach is often taken by coaches
to develop power as well as improvements in vertical jump height, leg
strength, joint awareness and proprioception (Miller et al., 2002). Current
research generally highlights that complex group application is a more
effective method for improving power when compared to conventional
programmes. Reviewing the literature Alemdarolu et al. (2013) reported
that complex training is also an effective measure for muscular
performance improvements, linear power in particular. Although most
studies relate to lower limb it was also reported that rotator cuff exercises
saw the largest improvements in power through combination training.
Conducting their own study Alemdarolu et al. (2013) examined the
effects of combining plyometric and resistance training during the same
session upon squat jump (SJ) and countermovement jump (CMJ),
concluding that combination training increases both SJ and CMJ
performance more than conventional training.
Plyometric training is characteristically known for improving power
through explosive activity through the conversion of eccentric to
concentration contraction known as the stretch-shortening cycle.
Enhanced plyometric training results can be achieved through adaptations
to a conventional plyometric session by considering the effect of intensity,
environment and combination training. Intensity progressions such as
height, weight and overhead reaching are claimed to have enhance
vertical jump and lower limb power outcomes. Consideration to volume of
foot contacts per session should also be taken into account to make
training specific and safe (Ebben, 2007). The choice of environment can
play a role of the outcome of plyometric training especially in relation to
joint loading as sand-based and aquatic-based environments display
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reduced joint loading as consideration for rehabilitation and pre-season


programme in relation to injury. However the environment should also be
considered for a plyometric progression due to the increased resistance of
movements performed in water submersion (Miller et al., 2002). Finally
combination training should be considered to enhance the improvement
of power especially when considering linear power and SJ exercises as
conventional programmes show reduced levels of improvement than
those achieved from plyometrics combined with resistance training
(Alemdarolu et al., 2013).

Reference List
Alemdaroglu, U., Dundar, U., Koklu, Y., Asci, A. and Findikoglu, G. (2013)
The effect of exercise order incorporating plyometric and resistance
training on isokinetic leg strength and vertical jump performance: A
comparative study. Isokinetics and Exercise Science. Vol. 21: 211-217.
Chu, D. (1999) Plyometrics in Sports Injury Rehabilitation and
Training. Athletic Therapy Today. Vol. 4, No. 3: 7-11.
Ebben, W. (2007) Practical Guidelines for Plyometric Intensity. NSCA's
Performance Training Journal. Vol. 6, No. 5: 12-16.
Impellizzeri, F., Rampinini, E., Castagna, C., Martino, F., Fiorini, S. and
Wisloff, U. (2008) Effect of plyometric training on sand versus grass on
muscle soreness and jumping and sprinting ability in soccer
players.. British journal of sports medicine. Vol. 42: 42-46.
Inci Karadenizli, Z. (2013) The effects of plyometric training on selected
physical and motorical characteristics of the handball
players. International Journal of Academic Research. Vol. 5, No. 4: 184188.

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Markovic, G., Jukic, I., Milanovic, D. and Metikos, D. (2007) Effects of sprint
and plyometric training on muscle function and athletic performance. The
Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research. Vol. 21, No. 2: 543-549.
Miller, M., Berry, D., Bullard, S. and Gilders, R. (2002) Comparisons of
Land-Based and Aquatic-Based Plyometric Programs During an 8-Week
Training Period. Journal of Sports Rehabilitation. Vol. 11, No. 4: 268-283.
Stemm, J. and Jacobson, B. (2007) Comparison of land-and aquatic-based
plyometric training on vertical jump performance. The Journal of Strength
& Conditioning Research. Vol. 21, No. 2: 568-571.

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