NASM PES Chapter 8: Plyometric Training Concepts 5

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Chapter Goals:

  • Be able to describe the techniques for plyometrics and their purpose in enhancing performance and preventing injuries.
  • Be able to discuss the role that training plyometrics will have in improving someone’s performance in sports. 
  • Find the attributes of a progressive program for plyometric training for athletes at any level.

Introduction

The muscle’s ability to produce max force in minimal time will enhance performance during functional activities. This is also called the rate of force production. 

Success in most functional activities will depend on the speed at which the muscular force is made. 

The power output and reactive control of the neuromuscular system represent function components. 

The stretch shortening cycle is an active stretch of a muscle that is followed by an immediate concentric contraction of the same muscle, which is very present in plyometric training. 

Plyometric Training Concepts

What is Plyometric Training?

We define plyometric training as a quick and powerful movement involving eccentric contraction and following it with an immediate and explosive concentric contraction. 

We accomplish this through the use of the stretch shortening cycle or eccentric, concentric coupling phases. We also refer to this as the integrated performance paradigm. 

The integrated performance paradigm states that, for us to move with precision, the forces must be loaded, stabilized, and then unloaded and accelerated. This basically sums up the stretch shortening cycle. 

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All in all, exercising with plyometrics will stimulate the proprioceptive and elastic properties of the body and bring about max force output in a minimum amount of time. 

Research is accumulating that shows plyometrics’s value for athletes of all ages. This shows how important it is becoming for plyometric training to enhance speed, increase the vertical jump, increase strength, and improve agility. 

We should have a goal for our athletes to make specific moves efficiently to accomplish their fitness and performance goals. 

The ultimate goal of plyometric training is to improve the reaction time of the spectrum of muscle actions. 

Reactive training is a popular choice for enhancing performance and preventing injuries. The benefits of this directly will be: 

  • Improving the control of valgus and Varus movements at the knees when landing. 
  • Enhancing the knee’s stability dynamically during the part of landing that involves deceleration.
  • Enhancing the anaerobic power and the height of the vertical jump.
  • Improve overall power and the change of direction speed within all of our planes of motion.

Three Phases of Plyometric Training

There are distinct phases in plyometric training. Here are the phases:

  • The eccentric phase is the first stage of the plyometric movement, where we go through this phase of deceleration and lengthening of the muscle that is to be stretched. This stretch allows for storing energy stored and held in the following stage to add to the power of the third phase.
  • The amortization phase is right after the eccentric contraction and before the start of the concentric contraction. This potential energy from the previous stage is stored here. This can also be the transition phase, where there is an electromechanical delay in the eccentric and concentric parts and the muscle is essentially changing what it is doing. 
  • The third phase is the concentric phase, where the unloading phase occurs right after the amortization phase and involves the concentric contraction and results in a muscular performance that has increased power from the stored energy. 

Physiological principles of plyometric training

Plyometric training uses the elastic and proprioceptive properties of the muscle to make max force production through the stimulation of mechanoreceptors for facilitating increases in muscle recruitment in a minimal amount of time. 

A principle of training plyometrics is going to be that the exercises have a cost of energy when running. 

It has been shown many times that there is a significant decrease in performance when running and that there is a good relationship with the use of plyometrics to enhance the running endurance of someone. It is thought that the actual oxygen needs of the person will go down over time when doing a plyometric program.

The stiffness of the muscles and the tendons increases, which is believed to cause reductions in energy relating to less energy being lost when running.

The Elastic Properties of Muscle

The concept of plyometrics is based on the 3 component model of muscle.

Muscles will be molded with contractile elements and two elastic elements. 

The elastic properties of the muscle show up for this stretch shortening cycle. We have the eccentric action right before the concentric part, increasing the energy storage in the muscle. 

During the loading of the muscle, we have the load transferred to the series of elastic components and stored as potential energy. 

These elastic components’ job is to convert the stored energy into kinetic energy that we can actually use to enhance the contraction. 

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The ability of the muscle to use this energy that is stored will be affected by time, the magnitude of stretch, and the velocity at which it is stretched. 

Increases in force generation in the concentric contraction are more effective when the prior eccentric contraction is short range and there is no delay. 

Proposed Mechanism by Which Plyometric Training Enhances Performance 

Enhanced muscle spindle activity 

Our neuromuscular system regulates movement speed.

The human movement system will only move in a set speed range regardless of muscle strength. 

The faster we eccentrically load the muscle, the greater the concentric force production.

Desensitization of the Golgi Tendon Organ

Desensitizing the GTO will increase the threshold for stimulation for inhibiting the muscle. 

This promotes increased force production with greater loads put on the musculoskeletal system.

Enhanced Neuromuscular Efficiency

Plyometric training can promote better control of the neuromuscular system in the contraction of our agonists and synergists, enabling the central nervous system to become more reflexive. 

Enhancements are then made to the efficiency of the neuromuscular system in the absence of things like hypertrophy.

Increased Strength

Plyometric training has been found in studies to have a quite positive effect on strength levels. 

These types of exercises may assist both the people that are trained and those that are untrained in developing more strength. 

Someone’s training status should be considered when determining their actual volume of work, as this is how we will measure it instead of the load lifted during working out. 

For people, there is one max threshold of volume for plyometrics that, once attained, you cannot actually attain more improvements.

Improved Muscle Activation

When we compare it to the likes of the squat jump, a counter jump move has been shown to give off more explosive force. 

This counter jump will come just before the jump by squatting down and loading the muscles with that potential energy. 

This allows for max muscle activation when we go to the concentric contraction. 

Improved Muscle Coordination

Like any movement, we have the coordination of our muscles is quite vital to performing these plyometric moves. 

The plyometrics are shown to not only improve the synchronization of motor units but it will also improve the athlete’s ability to perform the exercises. 

Overall, the plyometric exercises will all have a wide range of effects beyond just that of power output. When they are incorporated into training programs, we see improvements in things like the performance of jumps, economy when running, agility, power output, and the rate of force production. 

Plyometric Training Program

Systematic and progressive plyometric training programs are vital as part of any program for integrated training. 

Overload must be considered here, just like with all the other types. We measure the volume in touches or jumps when we look at our performance of plyometric exercises. 

The athlete progressing should see the amortization phase becoming as brief as they can possibly get it. 

We follow the OPT model as we have been in our other forms of training program types. We will have a representation of the phases of stabilization, strength, and power of plyometrics. 

It is important to go through the diagrams and the descriptions at the end of the chapter and ensure that you understand and can spot some of these more popular ways to do plyometric training. 

Plyometric Training for Youth Athletes

With youth athletes, plyometrics can be safe and effective still for performing speed, power, and overall athletic performance improvements. 

There is some concern in the fitness world regarding the idea of excessive injury and overtraining for youth athletes that do plyometric style training.

In reality, there is no more risk than with anyone else doing it and no more than what already exists in sports and recreational activities. 

We should always make sure to teach the proper form of exercise and enforce the use of the best landing technique for the individuals. This is a large part of the damage that can occur over time. 

Lastly, looking at the volume is big here as the landing, and things can tear down and damage joints, muscles, and just various types of tissue as time goes on. 

NASM PES Chapter 8: Plyometric Training Concepts 6
NASM PES Chapter 8: Plyometric Training Concepts 7
NASM PES Chapter 8: Plyometric Training Concepts 8

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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