Back when I boxed I did several exercises that worked my body out hard and made me more effective in the ring. These same type of exercises can help anyone build strength in their body, that includes explosive strength (the type any kind of fighter needs). On top of that these type of exercises also help to build muscle. I’m not talking about bodybuilder muscles. It’s more of a leaner, fitter look. If you’ve ever seen an MMA fighter or boxer, you know what I’m talking about.
Plyometrics are the type of exercises I’m talking about. They have been around for a long time. Medicine ball throws and clapping pushups are trademarks of the fight game for training purposes. Many gyms have adopted these excellent exercises to help get their patrons into shape effectively.
Today, we see plyometrics being used in many facets, including as part of a circuit. Heck, even clapping pushups have become mundane compared to what many athletes are doing. For example, I’ve learned to do 180’s (where I would explode my whole body off the ground and spin 180 degrees before coming back down). That takes a lot of explosive strength and speed. To me, doing the Superman plyometric pushup is too easy and so it is for many others.
image source: http://www.bobchoat.com
Other aspects of plyometric training is that they help one to move fast in any direction. Explosive speed is part of the training. Imagine a professional running back moving to avoid being tackled. They would have to explode from the backfield and then at an angle and back again, still moving forward. That takes a lot of plyometric training for the lower body.
Plyometrics also increases one’s balance, coordination and agility. It’s important to train your body in all areas to build this up. Back to football, the agility ladder is used as one of the means to accomplish this. In wrestling, using the four-square exercise does the same thing. I love doing them.
In every single sport I am engage in, I do some kind of plyometric exercise. Even in Parkour plyometrics are big.
Some of the ones I recommend are…
Medicine ball throws. They can be done with an overhead throw, a chest throw, a one-arm throw, a sit up throw or a side twist throw. Each will work different aspect of your body, including your core. You can even combine them with another exercise to make it more unique and work for you.
Clapping push ups. This can be done by lifting your upper body off the ground with an explosive push up or your whole body doing the same thing before clapping your hands together. Advanced athletes can clap behind their backs.
Squat jumps. This helps to build explosive strength in the legs for a vertical leap. Start with your legs shoulder width apart and squat down. Then jump into the air as high as you can go, landing back into the lower squat position. You’ll want to swing your arms high into the air when making the jump. Repeat as many times as you can.
Standing broad jump. Like the jumping squat, this builds explosive leg strength, except in the horizontal leap. You will also swing your arms forward when leaping.
Hurdle jumps. These are simply jumping over hurdles with both feet at the same time. Imagine jumping like a kangaroo over obstacles.
Sledgehammer strikes to a tire. This can be done a number of ways. The tire can be hung against a fence and then struck with a horizontal swing. The tire can be laid on the ground and struck with an overhead swing. Use your core as well as your arms, shoulder, chest and back.
Lateral stepping on-off a box and bounding. Lateral stepping helps to build quickness at angles and different levels. Bounding does the same thing, but with a more side-to-side emphasis. Bounding also focuses on keeping your feet in the air as much as possible.
image source: http://www.bobchoat.com
Plyometric exercises are all around you. Rope-skipping is one and so is playing hop scotch. Hey, sprinting is another one. Anytime you jump you’re doing plyometrics. Think of any other types, okay? Remember that they also help to build bone strength. Practice some of what you did as a kid. For me, I will continue to do as much plyometrics as I can. It’s fun too!