CSCS Chapter 18: Program Design and Technique for Plyometric Training
CSCS Study Guide Chapter 18

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    Chapter Goals:

    • Understand the physiology of plyometrics.
    • Learn the phases of the stretch shortening cycle.
    • Learn the components of plyometric programs.
    • Be to make safe and effective plyometric programs.
    • Give guidance with equipment used with plyometrics.
    • Instruct the proper execution of upper and lower body plyometrics.

    Plyometric Mechanics and Physiology

    Mechanical Model of Plyometric Exercise

    The Elastic energy held inside muscles and tendons increases with a rapid stretch.

    When concentrically acting after holding this energy, the energy is simply released and take part in the total force production.

    Mechanical Model of Skeletal Muscle Function

    SEC, or series elastic component, is stretched and stores the energy to increase force produced.

    The CC, or contractile component, is the main source of force from the muscle in a concentric action.

    The PEC, or parallel elastic component, puts out a passive force with unstimulated muscle stretching.

    Neurophysiological Model of Plyometric Exercise

    This model uses potentiation of the concentric act with the stretch reflex.

    The stretch reflex is a response from external stimuli that isn’t voluntary.

    Muscle spindles are stimulated, the stretch reflex gets stimulated, and this sends an input through to the spinal cord by the type Ia nerves.

    After the synapse with the alpha motor neurons in the spine, the impulses will go to the agonist extrafusal fibers and cause a muscle action as a reflex.

    Stretch Shortening Cycle

    This uses energy from the SEC and stretch reflex for the facilitation of max increases in muscle recruitment over a small amount of time.

    Three phases

    • Eccentric is a stretch of the agonist.
    • Amortization is a pause after phase 1 and before phase 3.
    • Concentric is a shortening of the agonist.

    Fast musculotendinous stretch rate is important for muscle recruitment and activity that comes from the SSC.

    The Long Jump and Stretch Shortening Cycle

    The eccentric phase is from touchdown and goes to the end of the movement.

    The amortization phase is when we transition from eccentric phase to concentric phase. It is fast and there is no movement.

    The concentric phase is after amortization and it is when we push off and ends when the foot leaves the ground.

    Plyometric Program Design

    Needs Analysis

    For the best plyometric program design, the strength and conditioning specialist needs to see the needs for the athlete based on sport, position, and training status.


    Lower Body Plyometrics

    Appropriate for almost every athlete or sport.

    Movement direction is different for sports, but most have similar needs for max vertical and lateral movements in short time.

    Upper Body Plyometrics

    Drills will have medicine balls throws and catches along with different push ups.

    Trunk Plyometrics

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    Trunk exercises done plyometrically must have movement modifications.

    Typically, they should be  short and quick and stimulated the stretch reflex


    Plyometric training deals with the amount of stress put on muscles, connective tissue, and joints.

    Primarily controlled by types of plyometric drills.

    When intensity increases, the volume should decrease.

    Factors that affect intensity

    • Points of Contact
    • Speed
    • Height of the drill
    • Weight of the participant


    • 2 – 3 days between plyometric workouts is typical.
    • So, 2 – 4 workouts per week is average.


    Depth jump recovery should have 5 – 10 seconds of rest between reps, and 2 – 3 minutes between sets.

    Time between sets is based on a work to rest ratio and stays specific to volume and type of the drill being done.

    Drills shouldn’t be considered cardio conditioning, but more as power training.

    Drills for specific body areas shouldn’t be done two days in a row.


    For lower body exercise, volume is seen as contacts per workout.

    For upper body exercise, volume is throws or catches per workout.

    Volumes differ based on experience.

    Appropriate volumes

    • Beginner = 80 – 100
    • Intermediate = 100 – 120
    • Advanced = 120 – 140

    Program Length

    Most programs last between 6 and 10 weeks, but vertical jump height improves as fast as 4 weeks.


    Plyometrics follows the overload principle.

    Warm up

    General warm ups, stretches, and specific warm ups are required.

    Specific warm ups include low intensity dynamic movements.

    Age Considerations


    Take into account someone’s physical and emotional maturity.

    The main goal is developing control neuromuscular and developing anaerobic skills carrying over into adult athletic participation.

    Progress gradually form simple to complex.

    Recovery time is a minimum of 2 – 3 days.

    With supervision, young kids can perform plyometrics.

    Valgus positioning is given special attention in order to reduce injury risk.


    Plyometric programs need to have 5 or less low to moderate intensity exercises.

    Volume needs to be lower, thus fewer foot contacts than typical programs.

    Recovery time should be 3 – 4 days.

    Plyometrics and other forms of exercise

    Plyometric exercise and Resistance Training

    Put together lower and upper body plyometrics, and then put upper and lower resistance for the following day.

    Doing heavy resistance training and plyometrics on the same day is not ideal.

    Advanced athletes may benefit from complex training. This combines intense resistance with plyometrics.

    Plyometric and Aerobic Exercise

    Safety Considerations

    Pretraining Evaluation of the Athlete


    Before adding drills, the professional should show the right technique.

    Landing technique should be stressed in order to help with performance and prevent injuries.

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    Shoulders stay in line with the knees.


    For the lower body, it is recommended that the 1 RM of the athlete should be 1.5 times body weight before introducing plyometrics. But more importantly, technique should be understood.


    Three balance tests are done in a standing, quarter squat, and half squat position.

    Each position is held 30 seconds. Tests occur on the same type of surface as the drill.

    Athletes starting plyometrics should be able to stand on one leg for 30 seconds and not fall.

    Athletes should also be able to hold a single leg half squat for 30 seconds.

    Physical Characteristics

    Athletes over 220 pounds have a heightened risk during plyometrics.

    Athletes over 220 pounds should not do depth jumps from anything over 18 inches.

    Equipment and Facilities

    Landing Surface

    For the prevention of injuries, landing surfaces used for plyometrics need to have good shock absorption. 

    Grass fields, suspended floors, and rubber mats are typical good surfaces.

    Training Area

    The amount of space depends based on the drill.

    Bounding and running drills require a minimum of 30 meters, but some have needs of 100 meters.

    Ceiling height should be 3 – 4 meters minimum.


    Boxes used in box jumps and depth jumps need to be sturdy and have a top that is nonslip.

    Boxes should be 6 – 42 inches.

    The landing space required for a box is 18 by 24 inches.

    Proper Footwear

    Ankle and arch support is important. Lateral stability and a wide nonslip toe is too.


    Watch athletes closely for proper technique.

    Depth Jumping

    Recommended depth jump height is 16 – 42 inches, and 30 -32 is the average.

    Implementing a Plyometric Program

    Evaluate the athlete

    Make sure the facility and equipment is safe

    Make goals specific to sports

    Know the design variables for programs

    Instruct proper technique to the athletes

    Progress the program properly

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