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Plyometric: to enhance upper body strength

Plyometric: to enhance upper body strength

You have a substantial number of options when it comes to getting and staying in shape. The days of combining a boring resistance training session with a cardiovascular workout are gone. With plyometrics circuit training, you can spice up your workout and add flare to your exercise regimen. This is of utmost importance when you are trying to get in great shape because adding variety to your workout keeps your body working at full force. And when your body works its hardest, you realize the greatest gains.

Upper body plyometric drills allow maximum power to be generated because, unlike barbells or dumbbells, the medicine ball can be released into the air. Plyometric drills can be used to convert an athletes maximal strength training into sport-specific power helping to further improve performance. It is logical for athletes to seek to increase the rate of force development, because most sports involve fast movements for which forces must be generated quickly.

During a medicine ball throw the mass of the ball is moved – a 3-5kg ball being the weight most commonly used by athletes. The force required to produce this movement comes from the arm muscles, mostly the pectorals, deltoids, triceps and latissimus dorsi.

In a study, subjects were tested for shoulder external rotator and elbow extension power before and after a six-week medicine ball throwing programme, using one specific exercise involving both sets of muscles. They had to stand, catch a 1kg ball in one hand with the arm horizontally abducted and extended, adduct and flex the arm across the body (eccentric phase) and then rapidly abduct and extend the arm releasing the ball. This throwing movement involves the external shoulder rotators (the posterior shoulder muscles) and the arm extensors (the triceps). Retesting revealed a significant increase in elbow extensor power, but not in external rotator power. The researchers suggested that the greater muscle mass of the posterior shoulder by comparison with the triceps meant that the training was more effective for the latter than the former.

How to Perform Plyometric Exercises?

As mentioned earlier, plyometric training exercises are high intensity exercises that are used for increasing strength, power and speed. Many of these exercises involve jumping, hopping and bounding. One should be aware that since these are high intensity exercises, one can get injured, if the exercises are not performed properly. Many of the plyometric exercises involve jumping from a box to floor and rebounding to the box and vice versa, or from one box to another higher box, etc. It is recommended that plyometric strength training exercises should be performed by only those who are physically fit. Beginners should perform low intensity plyometric exercises initially.

Although this program focuses on upper body power, it is necessary to understand that the energy for each exercise comes from the ground.  Therefore, in many of the exercises the lower body and core get considerable residual training.

Plyometric Push-Ups

Note: alternatively you can lower your chest close to the floor, push yourself up forcefully so your hands leave the ground and clap your hands together. Land your hands back in the starting position and repeat.

Overhead Throws


Plyo Dips

Arch Chop

Side Throw (with partner)

Plank Shuffle

Note: It is imperative that an adequate strength base is developed before attempting plyometric training.  One must remember that an essential component to plyometric training is high intensity efforts.  This higher intensity is accentuated during compressive exercise like explosive push-ups.  These percussive exercises put an enormous amount of stress on all of the associated structures (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, etc.).  If these anatomical structures are not properly developed, an injury is guaranteed if these types of plyometric exercises are undertaken.

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