Are you ready to become an unstoppable force in your favorite sport? Do you want to be the person that sets the bar for all others to follow? Then you’re going to want to see what we’ve got for you in this “Real MVP Plyometrics Workout”. Because whether on the field, the court, the track or wherever, plyometrics can help turn you into an MVP, just as it’s done for the world’s elite athletes.
Take NBA superstar Kevin Durant, for example.
Before he jettisoned to the league juggernaut Golden State Warriors, Durant was the pride and joy of the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise. And in 2014, he had the best season of his career, and was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player.
During the ceremonial acceptance speech, Durant gave a moving speech where he thanked his mother for the innumerable sacrifices she made for her family. The signature moment came when an emotional Durant proclaimed his mother to be “the real MVP.”
It was a beautiful, poignant moment that fans still talk about… mostly because they turned it into a meme. All of a sudden, “real MVPs” were people doing everyday things like handing out full-size candy bars at Halloween or paying for a Netflix account and letting others use it.
What the evolution of this meme showed us is that everyone wants to feel like a winner — even people that don’t grow up to be one of the best basketball players on the planet. So we thought we’d step in and lend a helping hand to the rest of you. We may not be able to get you on the lead story on SportsCenter, but we’ll make you feel like a superstar by helping you train like one!
That’s because elite athletes like Kevin Durant use plyometrics all the time — and now you’re going to have them at your disposal too!
Now, before we show you our highly intense, highly awesome circuit of exercises, we want to give you a solid foundation of this discipline and where it came from.
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Plyometrics and Your Quick Twitch Muscle Fibers
If you’ve never heard of plyometrics, it is what is referred to as “explosive reactive” or “jump training,” though it doesn’t necessarily always involve jumping. Also known as “Plyos,” these are exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, with the goal of increasing power (speed-strength).
This type of workout focuses on using only your quick twitch muscle fibers. During the exercise, the muscle rapidly shortens in a quick burst of speed. After in doing this over and over again, the quick twitch muscle fibers start to develop a greater capacity for moving faster, jumping higher, and overall being more explosive.
See, your muscles are made up of both quick and slow twitch muscle fibers. Slow twitch muscle fibers help you lift heavy objects. So when you help your buddy move his sofa from the living room to the basement, you recruit the slow fibers in your muscle to do the lifting. These fibers fatigue slowly and use more oxygen.
The reason elite athletes display such great agility and quickness is because they have either a greater quantity, or more developed, quick twitch muscle fibers. Some people are born with a greater number of these fibers than others–not much any of us can do about that. But you can change how well your quick twitch muscle fibers are developed. And this is done with plyometric training.
You may have seen–or even tried–plyometrics without knowing it. Think about any exercises you’ve performed that include some kind of rapid movement or jumping, like a jump squat or a burpee, for example.
Sources say the origins of this unique brand of exercise can be traced back to the 1920s in eastern Europe. Back then it was just plainly called “jump training,” but when those countries began dominating the Olympic landscape in track and field, the world took note of their revolutionary training method.
However, “jump training” didn’t bleed over to other sports’ landscapes until the 1970s, when it became clear that any athlete who would benefit from more explosive power during competition should be using this method. And in 1975, legendary American track & field star Fred Wilt coined the phrase “plyometrics” while observing the Soviets warming up prior to competition.
Now, if you’ve never used it before, you’re probably wondering why everyone thought this new training style was so great. After all, for athletes, any training should help you perform better in your chosen sport, or it’s not worth your time.
Fortunately, plyometrics can help you with that, and more:
Increase strength and power: Since plyometric training is focused on increasing the rate of force development, explosive training is going to help you become much stronger. Furthermore, you will be training the quick twitch fiber in your muscles, which is responsible for converting strength into speed.
Boost efficiency of neuromuscular system: A byproduct of increasing strength. Since you are training your body to apply strength fast, you are also training neuromuscular system to transmit signals more efficiently.
Increase athleticism: Peak performance in almost every sport is based in explosiveness, power, agility and speed. These are essential tools for athletes competing in football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, baseball, track & field, and countless other sports. Being able to change direction a tenth of a second faster, or jump a quarter of an inch higher, or use a burst of strength just a little faster than their opponent is what separates winners from losers.
New challenge for calisthenics fans: We all love calisthenics, right? Well, one thing we are always advocating is changing things up in your routine. If something gets too repetitive, we tend to plateau and get bored. Incorporating plyometrics is a great way to switch things up with something different. These exercises are more difficult that many other calisthenics moves, so if you’re stuck in a rut, this could definitely help you get over it.
No equipment (or weights) necessary: Plenty of online resources will show these types of exercise being performed with dumbbells, barbells and other weight room equipment. The truth is, you don’t need any of that. Your body will be plenty. Now, there are definitely pieces of equipment that can broaden your options of different plyo exercises, such as a plyo box. But if you don’t feel like buying one (or building one), you can use any other sturdy elevated surface, like stairs, a bench, or a low wall.
A Must for Elite & Aspiring Athletes Alike
Since its adoption beyond track & field, plyometrics workouts have become a vital part of training for the world’s top athletes. Just about every sport uses it for training, due to the aforementioned benefits of increased strength, speed, explosiveness and agility.
Now, of course these athletes are using plyos in addition to their sports-specific training. But all of these sports requires bursts of speed, jumping, lateral cuts, which is exactly what we’re trying to improve here.
Take football, for example. America’s most popular sport’s top athletes have to be able to react with a split second’s notice, lest they get blindsided into next week. And skills position players (the ones most directly responsible for either trying to score, or trying to prevent a score) in particular require a skillset of fast cuts, jukes, jumps and dives.
Basketball, despite having much less contact than football, requires players cut and flash their way to the basket, all without getting blocked by seven footers–no easy feat.
What about baseball? They say the most difficult thing to do in sports is hit a 90 mile an hour fastball. And most baseball novices who try it tend to agree. So in the 0.4 seconds a batter has to react to a pitch (yes, it’s really that little a window), they have be ready to activate a number of muscles instantly and swing the bat.
Volleyball, tennis, rugby, soccer, track & field–all of these require the skills one can attain with this training. And nowadays, athletes at all different levels of competition employ some form of plyometrics in order to become elite athletes.
Ready to Train Like the Pros?
So, if you’re an aspiring athlete, you’ve probably always wanted to train like the elites. Not to worry, because we’ve done the hard work for you!
We’ve gone deep undercover for you, and ripped exercises straight from the workout logs of elite trainers. These plyometrics exercises will be beneficial for all those sports we discussed, and more! Increasing strength, speed, jumping ability, agility, and balance are just some of the benefits this workout will provide.
Before we go much further, it’s a good idea to stress that this is absolutely not a workout for beginners. Caution should always be exercised before trying any new exercise, and plyos are no exception.
These exercises can be very hard on your joints, so it may even be a good idea to have a partner or coach around.
So, if you are still a beginner, you shouldn’t train with plyometrics just yet, as it will increase your risk of injury. Instead, focus on building a solid foundation before starting. It’s a good idea to be able to do the following:
If you don’t meet the necessary above criteria, spend more time on building your numbers. And if you’d like assistance with that, we’ve got a great Calisthenics for Beginners program you should try!
Finally, don’t forget to keep water handy and take breaks as you need. It’s important to push yourself, sure, but it’s even more important to listen to your body. There’s a difference between pushing past walls and being downright unsafe, so be safe, do your best and have fun!
Now, if you’re ready to give the Real MVP Plyometrics workout a go, let’s get your body nice and loose. Remember, you’re going to be using your quick twitch muscle fibers, so it’s going to be extra important to get your joints loose just as much as your muscles.
Click on each exercise’s name if you’d like our founder, Todd, to give you a quick demonstration on how to perform each warm-up. And if you’d like to have a treasure trove of exercises at your disposal, check out our article on 47 Awesome Stretching Exercises.
- Shoulder shrugs — 10 reps
- Wrist flicks — 20-30 reps
- Arm oscillations — 15/elbow
- Pelvis twists — 15/direction
- Swinging fan stretch — 20-30 reps
- Standing quad stretch — 15 seconds/leg
- Ankle circles — 15 rotations each direction per foot
- Parallel leg stretch — 15 seconds/leg
The Real MVP Plyometrics Workout
Alright, ready to get started? Then let’s do this!
You will complete each exercise with the designated number of reps, then move on to the next exercise in the circuit. Try to limit rest between sets to 20-30 seconds (we want to get your heart rate pumping!). Once you’ve finished the circuit, rest for 1-2 minutes, then start at the beginning again. Complete three total circuits.
Front box jumps – 6
For this first exercise, you’ll need a plyo box on which to jump. If you don’t have one handy, don’t worry. Like a lot of calisthenics tools, you can find plenty of applicable substitutes all around, like a bench, a staircase (use whatever step you wish as a landing point), or anything from 1’-3’ in height with a sturdy foundation.
Begin standing facing the plyo box with your feet slightly further than shoulder-width apart. With your weight on the balls of your feet, swing your arms to gain momentum and jump onto the box, keeping your chest up and eyes forward. Land as softly as you can with both feet simultaneously. Then step down and repeat.
Useful training for any sport requiring explosive jumping, including:
- Basketball — Jumping for a rebound, exploding to the basket to score, jumping to defend
- Volleyball — Approaching the net for a kill attempt, jumping to block, jump serving
- Football — Any jump ball situation, or a need for an explosive movement forward
- Baseball — Jumping for a line drive, having a strong back foot plant while batting
- Swimming — Kicking off the wall on a turn
- Soccer — Jumping for a header
Clap push-ups – 8
Again, this is a highly explosive move, so make sure your wrists and arms are adequately stretched. Begin in standard push-up position with your palms on the ground directly under your shoulders and your feet out directly behind you.
Lower yourself for the push-up, and as you push back up, explode so that your hands leave the ground. Clap your hands mid-air, then catch yourself and repeat.
You should not be impacting the ground hard with these. In fact, it should all be a very fluid motion.
Useful training for any other sport requiring quick upper body movement, including:
- Football: Linemen on either side of the ball, also stiff-arming and throwing the ball
- Basketball: Chest passes, quick movements with hands for shooting/dribbling/defense
- Swimmers: Most strokes heavily rely on the pectoral muscle and fast arm movement
- Baseball: This exercise, in addition to building chest muscles, also builds core and arm strength necessary for throwing a ball and swinging a bat
- Hockey: The follow-through of a shot comes from the upper body
Speed skaters – 7/leg
This is one of the best exercises for improving lateral quickness. The idea is to explode from side to side by planting on your outside foot.
Begin in a somewhat compact position with your knees bent, feet close together and chest up. Shift your weight to your left foot and kick to the right, swinging your arms from side to side to generate momentum. Land on your right foot (with your knee bent) while your left swings behind your right leg. Then, without resetting, explode off your right foot back to the left side.
Useful training for any sport requiring quick lateral movement, including:
- Baseball: Moving quickly to field a grounder, getting a good jump while baserunning
- Volleyball: Digging a ball, shifting to jump for a block attempt
- Hockey: Quickly changing directions on the ice
- Football: Planting while running a route on offense or covering on defense, also blocking while needing to move laterally
- Basketball: Shuffling on defense, rapidly changing directions while dribbling
Bulgarian split hops — 8/leg
This is one of our favorite exercises and one that will be great for your ability to explode off both feet. These are very similar to normal bulgarian split squats.
You’ll begin with your left foot flat on the ground and your right foot resting on a bench directly behind you (again, you can also use a chair, a plyo box, etc.). Your weight will primarily be on your front leg, while your back leg will primarily be for balance. Lower yourself into a deep lunge while making sure your left knee doesn’t go past the foot. Then, with your weight on the heel of your left foot, explode up so that your left foot leaves the ground. Land back in starting position and repeat. Switch legs when you finish each set for one leg.
Useful training for any sport requiring explosive jumping off one leg, including:
- Track & Field: Hurdling, long jump
- Basketball: Driving for a layup/dunk
- All sports requiring explosive sprinting
Wall tap push-ups – 5/arm
For this exercise, you’ll need to have a wall handy. This is going to be a great workout for a lot of the muscle groups in the upper body, and even the lower body as well, as your legs will be required for balance.
Begin in a standard push-up position with your wall about 1 ½’ – 2’ in front of you. Lower yourself as you would a normal push-up. As you explode back up, bring your left hand off the ground so that it reaches up and firmly touches the wall. Hold that position for a pause, then return to starting position, switching arms.
Keep in mind: the idea is to do this in one, fluid motion. So don’t just do a push-up, then reach out and touch the wall. Explode out of the push-up so that one hand reaches out and firmly touches the wall with no pause.
Useful training for any sport requiring explosive movement and strong upper body, including:
- Football: Passing the football, tackling, blocking
- Baseball: Throwing the baseball, swinging bat
- Volleyball: Swinging at the ball for a kill, serving the volleyball
- Basketball: Defending against a shot, reaching for a rebound
Single-leg jumps – 6/leg
This is another exercise that will seriously increase your overall endurance, balance, lower body strength and explosiveness. This is pretty much a must-have for any sport.
You’re going to begin in a kind of lunge position, with your left leg in front of you and your right leg behind. Both legs should be bent so that you’re in an athletic posture. When your left leg is in front of you, your right arm is also in front while the left arm is behind. So essentially you should look like a sprinter mid-run.
Take your right leg (back leg) and jump straight up so you bring your knee up to your chest. With your left leg (front leg), you’ll be driving through the ball of your foot so that it leaves the ground as well. When your left leg lands, draw your right leg and your arms back to starting position and repeat. Switch legs when you complete the reps for one set.
Useful training for any sport requiring..