Switching Gears | Erin Stern

October 2, 2014

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As I switch gears into training for the high jump, I have begun incorporating more plyometrics  (plyos) into my workouts. It can be a challenge to design a program with the goals of maximum performance on the field, while maintaining an aesthetic physique. Muscles produce more force when stretched before contracting, but the movement must be done quickly to maintain tension. If done properly, plyos can help us improve strength and power, and also can be a nice change from traditional weight training! I want to share some tips and tricks that have helped me along the way, along with suggestions for how to implement exercises into a weight-training routine:
Before we start, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Proper form is key – either train with a coach or do research regarding mechanics
  • Many exercises can be done at an easier level to allow for progression
  • Warm up with dynamic stretching prior to plyos
  • A turf or rubberized surface eliminates excessive stress on joints. Sneakers with good support and cushion will help, too.
  • Quality is more important than quantity, especially when improving performance. Each exercise will be between 5-10 reps, with enough time to recover between exercises (30-60 seconds)
  • The frequency of the workouts will depend on goals. As a conditioned athlete, I’ll do them 2-3x a week, but once a week is great for those just starting out

There are a few of ways I incorporate plyos into my workouts:

  • 2-3 exercises before my leg work out
  • 5-7 exercises on easy days at the track
  • 1-2 upper body exercises for training upper body
  • 5-7 exercises before weight training upper body

I like to do plyos when my muscles and mind are “fresh.” This allows for better performance. I used to do a few tuck jumps before some of my attempts in the high jump in college. My coach would tell me that it helped to “fire up the synapses.” I smile now because plyos do seem to prime the central nervous system for the big lifts! BetaTOR has helped me maintain intensity through these workouts, and helped me recover sooner. I feel more explosive when jumping, too!
Here are some exercises for lower body:

  • Jump squats
  • Lunge jumps
  • Line jumps
  • Dynamic step-ups on a bench
  • Tuck jumps
  • Depth jumps

And some for upper body:

  • Plyo push-ups
  • Explosive bench on Smith machine
  • Medicine ball throws

Just a few exercises can have a big impact on strength! Try them out, and train hard!! Thank you for reading!


-Erin Stern, IFBB Figure Pro/USATF Competitor

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