By: Chris Parchmann and the Ageility Team
Plyometric Training and Injury Prevention
Ageility recommends properly implementing plyometric training to reduce the incidence of injury when participating in a fitness program. Older adults can benefit from increases in bone and muscle mass along with stronger joints that result from this form of training. Older adults must be extremely cautious when performing these exercises and refrain altogether if they have conditions such as osteoporosis that can result in serious injury from plyometric exercises. Ageility recommends the following minimum requirements before participation in a plyometric training program to assure safety and success.
Proper technique for each exercise must be followed. You should have several months of resistance training experience to establish an adequate strength base. Generally, you should be able to back squat 1.5 times your body weight before taking part in lower body plyometric exercises and have the ability to bench press at least 1 – 1.5 times your body weight before implementing upper body plyometric exercises into your program. Heavier individuals may be at a greater risk when performing plyometric exercises. Greater body mass increases joint compressive forces that lead to injuries. Lower volumes and intensities should be used if you do not meet the strength criteria recommended by Ageility or refrain from plyometrics altogether until you have a solid foundation of strength. Sufficient strength, speed, and balance must be possessed for the level of exercise used. Never participate in plyometric exercises that involve injured body parts.
Make sure enough recovery time is taken between training sessions to minimize the incidence of injury. Spacing plyometric sessions with 24-72 hours of rest is appropriate. Another strategy is to program lower body plyometric exercises on days where the workout is focused on upper body strength and vice versa for upper body plyometric exercises. This allows you to incorporate plyometric exercises into your training program more frequently while managing fatigue, soreness, and injury risk.
Space and Equipment Considerations
Equipment and work out space are important factors to consider when working out at home. Space and equipment can greatly affect safety during plyometric exercises. Ageility suggests landing surfaces used for body plyometrics aid in shock absorption but not be so soft that it increases the transition (amortization) time during exercises. Grass fields and rubber mats are good surfaces for plyometric workouts. Aquatic plyometric training has also been shown to provide results with a reduction in muscle soreness versus land based plyometrics. Ageility recommends proper footwear with good ankle and arch support, lateral stability, and a nonslip sole for plyometric exercises.
The amount of space needed depends on the exercise or drill. Most exercises require minimal surface area but adequate height is needed for jumping exercises. Boxes and barriers can be used for jumps. Depth jumps (when you drop from a height and rapidly jump upon landing) are considered high intensity exercises and extreme caution should be used. You can be creative if there is not a box on hand such as jumping to and from stairs or benches. Assure that the height of the object is not too high to avoid injury. Beginners can use a flat object or imaginary line on the ground as a barrier to hop over for lower intensity exercises. Running drills can be performed outside if you have a backyard. Many drills can be done with as little as 10-30 yards. You could also try some drills in place if you do not have enough open space.
Ageility Example Exercises
Example bodyweight exercises that can be done at home are listed below. Plyometric exercises should be performed at the beginning of the workout when combined with other forms of exercise such as strength and endurance training. Consult with an Ageility certified fitness professional on how to implement plyometric exercises into a balanced training program.
Lower Body Plyometric Exercises
*Exercises, sets and yardage are provided as examples and not meant to comprise a workout. Exercises should be tailored to each individual.*
Vertical Jump: 2-3×6-10
Squat Jump: 2-3×6-10
Split Squat Jump: 2-3×6-10 each
Standing Long Jump: 2-3×6-8
Tuck Jump: 2-3×6-8
Power Skips: 2-3×10-15 yards
Bounding: 2-3×10-15 yards
Upper Body Plyometric Exercises
Clap Push Up: 2-3×6-10
Depth Push Up: 2-3×6-10
Chest Pass: 2-3×6-10
Overhead Throw: 2-3×6-10
Side Throw: 2-3×6-10 each