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Plyometrics: Building Explosive Strength
Part 2: Basic plyometric exercises are easy to do.
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Introduction
• Part 2: Lower-body Exercises
• Part 3: Upper-body Exercises

According to Ed Derse, author of Health For Life's book Explosive Power, plyometric exercises can be divided into four basic groups:

  • rhythm plyometrics: exercises that develop explosive power through coordinated movement
  • speed plyometrics: exercises to increase basic speed capacity through overloading muscles over short time durations
  • power plyometrics: exercises to develop explosive strength
  • power-endurance plyometrics: exercises to build the ability to produce explosive power over and over

All of these exercise types are useful for martial artists. Rhythm plyometrics improve coordinated movement, while speed and power plyometrics produce faster and more forceful techniques. The endurance to maintain explosive power over a long match, as in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), is often the winning edge.

Here's some basic lower-body plyometric exercises that are easy to do. As with any exercise program, consult your doctor first if you haven't been exercising regularly. Note that plyometrics produce extreme stress on your muscles--you should already be in really good shape before attempting a plyometrics program. If you have joint problems, you might want to avoid these exercises, as they place heavy loads on the joints. Also, be sure to perform these exercises on a surface with some "give" to it, like a sprung dojo floor, or a grassy field. To avoid foot and ankle injuries, wear shoes with good support and cushioning.

Simple Lower-body Plyometric Exercises

  • skipping: Just like you did as a kid, skipping, or running with a slight hop or launch with each step, builds rhythm and coordination.
  • butt kicks: Often performed by football squads, butt kicks develop the hamstring muscles vital in kicking. Run at a fast walking speed, attempting to hit your butt with each foot as you run forward.
  • rapid reps: Martial artists who practice punch/kick martial arts already do plyometrics when they practice their techniques. Rapid repetitions of techniques build the muscle memory for fast bursts of force.
  • rim jumps: Rim jumps, a popular exercise for volleyball and basketball players, can also help you get more height on your jumping kicks. Mark a spot on a wall about six inches higher than your vertical reach. Jump up and touch the spot; when you land, immediately launch into another jump, but touch the spot with your other hand. Do several repetitions, touching the spot with alternating hands each time.
  • medicine ball kick: As seen on the first page of this article, medicine balls can be used for lower-body plyometrics as well as the more common upper-body exercises. Launching the medicine ball with a kicking motion emphasizes the initiation of the kick, helping you launch faster attacks.

Next page > Upper-body Exercises > Page 1, 2, 3

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