Written by Lauren Rae, NASM CPT at TRYMFit
Special mobility, speed, and agility training programs have previously been reserved for the ultimate athlete. As more people are discovering the physical and emotional benefits of functional exercise, it is important for them to realize that anyone participating in a workout program can also benefit from a Plyometric Training program. These types of exercises are also called Reactive Training and basically refer to any explosive movement that includes an eccentric and concentric contraction in the muscles to produce and use stored energy.
To safely move in any functional activity requires that we are able to react to our physical surroundings and can generate a force quickly to adapt to any demands on our bodies. Whether you participate in organized sports as a profession, for fun, or not at all, reactive training can prepare and protect your body for any type of functional movement or directional change. This improves overall muscle and central nervous system (CNS) function, physical and athletic performance, as well as reduces the risk of injury.
Plyometric Training can greatly enhance your ability to move quickly and safely because core stability is improved and the CNS has been trained and is able to respond and recruit muscles at faster speeds. This gives the you the ability to start and stop deliberately and produce speeds that are necessary for any task at hand. For example, professional athletes who can react the fastest, by generating the most force, make the biggest plays for their team. If someone going down a set of stairs accidentally oversteps and loses their balance, the quick responsiveness of properly trained muscles will be able to regain their balance and reduce the risk of injury.
It is important to approach this type of training with caution and work through the three phases in order and only progress after core stability, balance, and proper form is achieved for each exercise. Work through each phase for 4–6 weeks before assessing whether or not it is appropriate to move on to the next phase. Work through each exercise in a superset fashion and complete three sets of each reactive exercise before moving onto the core exercises.