What are Plyometric Exercises and are They Effective?

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question-icon-newIs uphill running or stair running considered a plyometric exercise? I’m a little confused on what exactly plyometric exercises are. Also, is it okay to do biceps and triceps in the same workout?

answer-icon-newPlyometrics are powerful and explosive movements that include jumping, bounding and hopping exercises. Some examples are knee tuck jumps, box jumps, barrel jumps and other burst style exercises. Plyometrics is a training style that uses ballistic ways to use lateral leg work making the movements explosive and powerful. This type of training is ideal for increasing your jumping height, speed, agility, balance and for developing stronger connective tissues making your joints much stronger in the process.

Uphill running and stair running might be considered plyomterics only if they are done with super high intensity and if you’re really explosive going up the stairs for a short amount of time (15-30 seconds). If you do traditional stair running at a moderate pace, then it’s probably going to be considered more of a cardio exercise versus a true plyometrics movement due to the level of intensity.

Here are some videos which cover several different plyometric exercises:

If you’re an athlete, plyometrics are excellent to include in your training routines to improve your speed, quickness and explosiveness when you’re on the field or court. Sports specific training is very beneficial when you’re trying to improve your performance, so make sure to include specific exercises for your sport. An example of this is would be if you’re a track and field athlete (shot putter), you would do one hand barbell Military presses to develop power and explosiveness in your shoulders and triceps.

For your question about biceps and triceps, they actually do make a great workout to combine together in your arm routine. This is what is considered a “push pull” workout and works very well when integrated into a 5-day split workout routine. An example of a 5-day split would be:

  • Monday: Back and traps
  • Tuesday: Chest and abs
  • Wednesday: Legs and calves
  • Thursday: Shoulders and abs
  • Friday: Arms (biceps and triceps)

biceps-workouts-preacher-curlsThe “push” part of the workout is when you train your triceps (pushing) and the “pull” part is when you train your biceps (pulling). Setup your workout by choosing 3 different exercises for both your biceps and triceps (6 total exercises) and do 2 sets of 8-12 reps per set for each exercise. Start out by doing a set of biceps and then immediately follow it up with a set of triceps (back to back) and then rest for 90-120 seconds. If you’re advanced and want a killer workout, you can do compound sets where you do 2 biceps exercises back to back and then do 2 triceps exercises back to back before taking a rest. This type of workout absolutely burns your arms out and you should achieve an incredible pump in your muscles. An example of a compound set would be:

  • Biceps: Barbell curls followed up with preacher curls (8-12 reps for each exercise).
  • Triceps: Skull crushers (lying barbell triceps extensions) followed up with straight bar pushdowns.

When doing arm workouts, its important to remember not to overtrain your biceps and triceps since they are smaller muscle groups when compared to much larger muscles like the back, legs and chest. So, be aware of this when training your arms and when in doubt, cut down on the overall sets versus going overboard and doing too many exercises and sets. A good rule of thumb is to do 4-6 sets of biceps and the same for triceps. If you do super high intensity sets and really blow out your arms, you will only need a few high quality sets in order to get a great workout and stimulate growth!

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