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 released and takes 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 the 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 the 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 synapses 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 to facilitate max increases in muscle recruitment over a short 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.

A 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 the touchdown and goes to the end of the movement.

The amortization phase is when we transition from eccentric to concentric phases. 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 must see the athlete’s needs based on sport, position, and training status.

Mode

Lower Body Plyometrics

Appropriate for almost every athlete or sport.

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

Upper Body Plyometrics

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

Trunk Plyometrics

Trunk exercises done plyometric ally must have movement modifications.

Typically, they should be short and quick and stimulate the stretch reflex.

Intensity

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 the intensity

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

Frequency

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

Recovery

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

The time between sets is based on a work to rest ratio and stays specific to the volume and type of the drill is 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.

Volume

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

For upper body exercise, volume is thrown or caught 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.

Progression

Plyometrics follows the overload principle.

Warm up

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

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Specific warm ups include low intensity dynamic movements.

Age Considerations

Adolescents

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 from 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 to reducing injury risk.

Masters

Plyometric programs need to have 5 or fewer 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, then 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

Technique

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

Landing techniques should be stressed to help with performance and prevent injuries.

Shoulders stay in line with the knees.

Strength

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, the technique should be understood.

Balance

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

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 100 meters.

The ceiling height should be 3 – 4 meters minimum.

Equipment

Boxes used in box jumps and depth jumps must be sturdy and have a nonslip top.

Boxes should be 6 – 42 inches.

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

Proper Footwear

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

Supervision

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 are 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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CSCS Chapter 18: Program Design and Technique for Plyometric Training 1
CSCS Chapter 18: Program Design and Technique for Plyometric Training 2
CSCS Chapter 18: Program Design and Technique for Plyometric Training 3

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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