When athletes need to step up their training and develop the perfect balance between speed and power, they turn to plyometrics. It’s the weapon of choice to improve functional capabilities (vertical jumping height, running speed, acceleration, jumping distance, balance, etc.) for any kind of sport, and its explosive nature gives a massive boost to endurance levels as well. For overall conditioning, few things are as effective or as demanding as plyometrics—so if you already have a good foundation, and have been working regularly on both your cardio and strength training, then this is the way to increase the intensity. The basic principle of plyometrics is simple—to train your muscle to deliver the maximum amount of power in the shortest possible time.
This exercise is designed to increase the power in your legs, improve stability, and if you are into sports, to make your endurance levels shoot up and improve your speed. As with all plyometric exercises, this has to be done carefully and on soft, level ground. Don’t do this exercise more than twice a week, make sure you warm up before you do it and are not tired or overworked.
Stand with your right foot in front of you, and your left foot behind, with the distance between the heel of the right foot and the toe of the left a little more than shoulder-width. Your feet should not be in a straight line, but a little separated, with your right foot planted firmly on the ground, and the left foot balanced on the ball of the feet. Brace your abdominal muscles so that your core is tight and ready to stabilize your body. The lower back should be straight, and shoulders extended and pulled back. Keeping your posture steady, lower yourself on your left knee till it is almost touching the ground. Be careful not to bend your right knee beyond your toes. Make sure that your back is straight, your balance is perfect and your core is tightened at this stage. You should have two 90-degree angles, one for the front leg, and one for the back. Now explosively leap up, straightening your feet in the air—the heel of your right foot and the ball of your left foot should provide the maximum impetus, and your back should be straight and shoulders pulled down and out, chest expanded, and head and neck in a straight line with your spine. Drive from your hips in a scissor action so your legs switch positions in mid-air, with your left leg coming in front and your right leg going back. Form the two 90 degrees as you are switching and dropping down, so that you land on the heel of your left foot and the ball of the right foot, in the same posture and position as before, except with the left leg in front and the right leg behind. Your right knee should not go beyond the toes when you land.
This is one rep. Start with as many reps as you are comfortable with, stopping the moment you feel fatigued. Remember to keep breathing throughout, exhaling while exploding up, and keep your core engaged and straight, because that’s what will keep you balanced when you land. Even if you are getting really good at it—jumping high and landing softly—10-12 reps twice a week are enough to get the full benefits of this exercise while avoiding injuries.