Updated: Jun 18, 2021
Plyometrics! If you’ve ever wondered what that odd, seemingly technical sounding word means, this article is for you. But if you’re unsure as to what it means don’t fret, you’re not alone.
Surprisingly, few people who exercise and participate in sport understand what plyometrics is and how it can be used to enhance performance, which probably goes some way to explaining why so few exercisers incorporate plyometrics into their training. In truth, when I first heard the word used, I thought it was probably a mathematical theorem conceived by the Greek philosopher Pythagoras.
I later learnt that, though plyometrics isn’t a formula for explaining cosmic phenomena, it is a training methodology that can enhance physical performance. And while the concept doesn’t have Greek origins the name does: ‘plyometric’ is purportedly derived from the Greek word ‘‘pleythyein’, which means ‘to increase’ or ‘plyo’ and ‘metric’ meaning ‘more’ and ‘measure’’ (Watson 1995).
Actually, though the word connotes complexity, it is startlingly simple. ‘Plyometrics,’ as Chu defines it, ‘is the term now applied to exercises that have their roots in Europe, where they were first known simply as “jump training”’.
And there is the essence of plyometrics demystified: essentially it is the training methodology of performing explosive exercises such as ‘jumps, leaps, hops, rebounds, springs and throws’ all of which are ‘carried out with the expressed aim of engaging the stretch-shortening cycle’ (Watson 1995).
However, there’s a bit more to plyometrics than just jumping and it can be applied to a plethora of fitness disciplines, exercises and sports.
Before we have a look at the ways which plyometrics can be used in training, let’s firstly consider the science behind how it enhances physical performance.