This plyometric cardio circuit develops explosive power in the legs and aerobic stamina in the heart and respiratory system. It is the perfect workout for those looking to improve sporting fitness or preparing for an event – such as a 10k run, time trial, or triathlon.
But because plyometrics training delivers a host of desirable fitness outcomes, this circuit can benefit anyone pursuing personal physical development. In his definitive guide on the subject, Jumping into Plyometrics, Chu outlines some of the physiological adaptations plyometric training promotes.
As well as enhancing muscle elasticity, and strengthening ligaments, tendons, and bones, plyometrics also improves explosive power. The action of executing a movement with maximal force recruits more muscle fibers. This has been shown to be a more effective method of increasing power and strength.
It’s for these reasons that plyometrics has become a prominent component of athletic training programs. Most athletes now in some form or another participate in plyometrics.
By incorporating this plyometric cardio circuit into your training routine, you could enjoy some of the fitness benefits outlined above and below.
Plyometric cardio circuit benefits
This plyometric cardio circuit delivers a dual fitness benefit. The combination of plyometrics and cardio taps into both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.
As Chu reminds us, ‘plyometrics training, by the nature of the energy system being utilized, is not intended to develop aerobic capacity,’ (Jumping into Plyometrics). Plyometrics is purely anaerobic, and its purpose is to maximise muscular power in a single contraction. Consequently, if performed as per the textbook, plyo training is conducted in a controlled manner and periods of rest follow exercises.
Related: Best Plyometrics Boxes for the home gym
‘Recovery,’ Chu reminds us, ‘should be complete between each repetition of the exercise and between each set of repetitions. If sufficient recovery is not allowed, then the activity may move toward being aerobic, but the quality of movement and explosiveness are sure to suffer,’ (Jumping into Plyometrics ).
The cardio element of the circuit balances the training focus. Whereas the plyo exercises enhance explosivity, the cardio stations strengthen the muscles of the aerobic system – the heart, diaphragm, and smooth muscles that line the veins and assist the flow of blood around the body.
How to do this plyometric cardio circuit
The warm-up is a crucial component of plyometric training. Because plyo exercises are by nature explosive, and muscles and tendons are put under significant tension, injury risk is greater.
There are two simple ways to reduce injury risk when plyometrics training. The first is to warm up well. Include in your warm-up low-intensity bounces and jumps. Remember that the warm-up ‘exercises of choice when using plyometric drill should be specific or related to the larger efforts,’ (Jumping into Plyometrics).
The second simple way of reducing injury susceptibility is to use cushioned training mat. In this plyometric cardio circuit, you will be performing box jumps and press-up pushes. If possible, place training mats around the box ensuring to leave enough space for the press-ups.
Concluding the warm-up, you’re ready to start the workout. The efficiency of the circuit will be improved if you spend a minute or two organising exercise equipment. The mechanics of the circuit couldn’t be simpler. Organised into three descending ladders, your objective is to climb down to the bottom rung of each ladder.
You’ll notice that the distances of the cardio exercises remain the same. This is not the case for the plyo exercises. The reps decrease by one with each rung. Aim to maintain a moderate- to high-intensity output on the cardio stations. When you have completed the distance, you should be breathing heavily but not overly fatigued. Take a short rest of no more than 20-seconds before exploding into the plyo exercises. Rest for 5- to 10-seconds after each rep.
Plyometric cardio circuit key points
Warm-up well before starting the circuit.
Select the level most suited to your current fitness and ability.
Progress through the circuit as instructed in the session plan.
Use the session plan to keep track of your progress.
5 minute warm up
Slow jogging for 2-minutes
Low-intensity squat jumps for 1-minute
Medium intensity jogging for 2-minutes
Repeat if you do not feel adequately warmed up
Plyometric cardio circuit hints and tips
If you plan to do this circuit at the gym, leave the treadmill running while you complete the plyo box jumps. Having to get the belt back up to speed for every set wastes a lot of time.
Using the session plan provided will enable you to track progress through the workout. Not only will this reduce the likelihood of skipping sets but, more importantly, it stimulates motivation.
Identified an exercise that you cannot do? Not a problem, simply change it. Need exercise ideas?
Consider modulating the intensity throughout the circuit. For example, use the cardio stations to keep warm and as active recovery so that you can put maximum intensity into the plyo reps. Perhaps, as reps decrease, you could begin progressively to increase the cardio intensity.
Enjoyed this plyometric cardio circuit?
Get your hands on 70 more with the Hungry4Fitness Book of Circuits & Workouts Volume 2.
Plyometrics training FAQ
What is plyometric training definition?
Plyometrics is defined as a ‘type of dynamic action . . . based on the theory that the use of the stretch-reflex during jumping will recruit additional motor units,’ (Physiology of Sport and Exercise).
Though informative, this definition is perhaps a bit misleading. It suggests that plyometrics is limited purely to exercises that involve jumping. This is not the case. Plyometrics can be applied to multiple movements including press-ups, handstand press-ups, pull-ups, and even some resistance exercises.
A broader definition is outlined in the book Personal Training. ‘Plyometrics uses pre-stretching of the muscles to create an increase in the resultant force production during the execution of the exercise being performed.’
In this definition, the plyometric method is encapsulated but not constricted. The action of pre-stretching the muscle prior to executing the movement can be applied to a wide range of exercises.
Is plyometric training aerobic or anaerobic?
To reiterate the leading authority on the subject, ‘plyometrics training, by the nature of the energy system being utilized, is not intended to develop aerobic capacity,’ (Jumping into Plyometrics). Plyometrics consists of short bursts of maximum intensity movements. Typically, plyometric exercises are grouped into small sets comprised of low reps. Between sets, a lengthy rest period is enforced to allow the muscles to recover. This protocol, which is similar to that of strength, is consistent with the anaerobic training method.
What is plyometric training exercises?
There are literally hundreds of plyometric training exercises. Too many to mention and list. For a comprehensive guide, including tutorials and best application, see Jumping into Plyometrics. Alternatively, see our three-part article Plyometrics | Everything You Need to Know.