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Plyometrics, sometimes called jump training, features explosive, intense movements designed to build muscular strength, power and joint resiliency. Plyometrics helps athletes, including skiers, runners and tennis players, improve in competition. This form of training can also help everyday exercisers burn a lot of calories in a short time while greatly enhancing fitness.
Plyometric moves work against the force of gravity. You store potential energy in the muscles and then use this energy to do a powerful jumping or springing movement. Box jumps, in which you jump over several high platforms in a row, or jump squats, in which you start in a squat, spring upward to launch off the ground and land again in a squat, are examples of plyometrics. The American Council on Exercise reports that combining plyometrics and weight training reduced athletes' landing forces from a jump by 20 percent and increased hamstring strength by 44 percent. Plyometric exercises are also a weight-bearing activity that helps build bone density. In addition to these functional benefits, the powerful, total-body nature of plyo creates a tremendous calorie burn.
You can burn as much as 100 calories in 10 minutes if you weigh 135 pounds, but you have to push your limits the entire time: No resting, or you will diminish the calorie-burning results. A study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise that was published in November 2011 analyzed the calorie burning effects of a popular DVD plyometric workout and found that in 43 minutes, participants -- on average -- burned between 492 and 770 calories, depending on size and gender. Expect a workout that burns this many calories to be intense, however.
Because doing box jumps, airborne jacks and plunges for 10 minutes straight -- let alone a full hour -- is extremely challenging and potentially dangerous, you are better off alternating sets of plyometric movements with traditional weight training sets or resting between sets. You might compromise the calorie burn slightly, but you will protect yourself from injury and burnout. Even if you desire to burn a lot of calories daily to help with weight management, you should not do plyometric training every day. Incorporate plyo one to three times per week on nonconsecutive days. As with any type of strength training, your muscles need time to repair and recover so they grow stronger. Doing plyometrics with a tired body could also lead to poor form and possible injury.
Plyometrics are not for beginners or people with joint problems. Before adding plyometrics to your routine, master basic strength and cardio activities, such as jogging, to build up your fitness level. You should also consider meeting with a trainer to ensure proper form during execution of jumping movements. While plyometric exercise can offer great benefit when done correctly, it can also cause injury when done with poor form. If you hurt yourself, you will be unable to do most calorie-burning exercise for a while.