Wikipedia, generally my very 1st source for supplemental information & available references on most subjects, states that “Plyometrics is a type of exercise designed to produce fast, powerful movements, & improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving performance in sports. Plyometric movements, in which a muscle is loaded & then contracted in rapid sequence, use the strength, elasticity & innervation of muscle & surrounding tissues to jump higher, run faster, throw farther, or hit harder, depending on the desired training goal. Plyometrics is used to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, providing explosiveness for a variety of sport-specific activities.”
The idea of implementing a series of eastern-minded exercises specifically designed to help me run faster, jump higher & hit harder is more than exciting & easily piqued my interest enough to include them into The Wanderer. Please enjoy.
Below are a several passages I took directly from Muay Thai: The Art of Fighting, essentially a badass warrior bible on the written history, traditions, fighting techniques, conditioning & training exercises of Muay Thai. I’ve italicized any direct quotes taken from the text, as it’s obvious that the book’s authors, Yod Ruerngsa, Khun Kao Charuad and James Cartmell, went to great lengths of research in order to pull together such an amazingly thorough text encompassing some of the more interesting facets of this particular hard martial art.
1) You want to develop the greatest amount of force in the shortest amount of time. You want to be EXPLOSIVE!
Before you begin your development of explosiveness, you should first have a good 2-3 months of strength training under your belt, especially for the lower body. Strength training for the lower body includes squats, both front & back, lunges (forward & side), Romanian deadlifts, & leg presses. These movements will stress the ankle, knee & hip joints, which play a HUGE part in building explosiveness.
2) Before undertaking serious plyometric training, it is important that you first develop a strength base. Since the force developed in some types of explosive training can reach 20 times your body weight, it is easy to see why you must be strong enough to withstand such forces. This means you must develop concentric, eccentric, and isometric strength since all 3 of these muscle exercise regimes are used in plyometric (explosive) training. When you first start training you should first go on an all-around total body conditioning program. You should do exercises to develop all of the muscles of the body & all the joints in all of their actions. This type of training should last between 1-3 months, depending upon your initial level of fitness. Once this general base is well developed, you should then begin to do strength exercises which more closely duplicate the actual movements involved in your sport(s), including plyometrics. The more specific the exercises, the greater will be the effectiveness of your workouts.
The development of explosive strength is more complex, and 4 methods are used. They are:
- Exercises with Weights
- Jump Exercises
Obviously I’ve only listed 2 of the 4 methods. While there are 2 more extremely effective plyometric exercises given in Muay Thai: The Art of Fighting, for time, practicality, Wanderer space & my readership’s limited attention span, I’ve only included the 1st two.
Below is an overview of some of the exercises directly associated with the above-stated methods. For more in-depth information on the routines, check out the actual full-length text.
Exercises with Weights:
Using approximately ONLY 60-80% of your absolute strength plyometric training is the key to developing that explosiveness & speed.
Exercises with weights are used to develop maximum absolute strength. Weight exercises are also used in combination with jump exercises or in series with them. One simple routine to develop explosive power is to assume a specific position & hold it for 3-5 seconds to develop isometric tension. Once the muscle is prepared, you explode in the opposite direction with maximum speed. For example, go into a squat & hold the bottom position, leap up high & as quickly as possible. This helps develop explosive legs.
To develop explosive arms with this method, you can do an exercise such as lying on your back on a narrow bench holding a weighted medicine ball in your hands with the ball almost touching your chest. Hold for 4-5 seconds & then throw the ball upwards with maximum force. A barbell or dumbbells may be used instead of the medicine ball, with the obvious exception that you won’t throw the weights.
Jump exercises are the simplest form of plyometrics. The jumps are usually done in series of approximately 10 jumps. They can be done on both legs or on single legs or alternating between legs. However, when first beginning you should ALWAYS do double leg jumps until your legs (or arms) become accustomed to the jumping…
Next in the progression are series of jumps having different directions, jumping over various objects and jumping onto and off various objects. For example, you can jump sideways, then forward, and then backward. Or you can jump in a zigzag fashion. It is also possible to jump with body turns so that you end up facing in different directions after you execute the jump. All body turns made while you are airborne.
Jumping over objects becomes more effective than simple jumping because it forces you to jump a little higher, which in turn, creates more force upon the landing. In turn, allowing for greater development, which, in time, allows you to jump even higher. Also, by jumping onto and off various objects it puts more variety into the program as well as exposing your nervous system to experience different amounts of force from different jumps. This also provides for greater development.
If you enjoyed these 2 plyometric exercises, I will be including the remaining 2 methods sometime in the near future.
Coming soon: The Hit (Shock) Method & Depth Jumps
Muay Thai: The Art of Fighting, in its entirety, can be downloaded and/or printed from Fliiby.com. Thanks again, Jarrad! Down with Belf!