If you want to build speed or muscle power, then plyometrics training could be the answer. Undertaking squat jumps, lateral jumps or tuck jumps (just some of the more established ones) you are asking your muscles to react explosively which in turns makes them quicker to respond in future (eccentric contraction), as well as increasing the power you can generate. Plyometric platforms are non-slip heavy duty framed platforms that allow you to jump on and off from in order to do the jumps/plyometric exercises.
First off, do you know what Plyometrics is?
Plyometrric exercises involve quick explosive movements that are designed to increase speed and power. In simple terms they involve a jumping movement like skipping, jumping, lunges, jump squats and clap push ups.
A plyometric exercise has three phases to it. The first is a rapid muscle lengthening movement called the eccentric phase, then there is the second phase which is a short resting period called the amortization phase followed by an explosive movement called the concentric phase. The point of plyometric exercise is to decrease the amount of time between the eccentric and concentric movements.
Plyometrics improves the performance of your muscles, tendons and nerves so that essentially you will run faster, jump higher etc. For muscles it will specifically strengthen and increase the number of fast twitch fibres in your muscles, the stronger the fast twitch fibre the faster the muscle contraction. It will also strengthen your tendons and boost their elasticity.
For the jumping exercises often involved in plyometrics a well constructed platform can be essential. When buying a platform look for a steel construction which supports you, non slip surfaces, and rubber feet for stability.
You can also purchase plyometric boxes made from foam. These can be great for durability and stability but, as with all plyometric platforms, do ensure you have a large enough landing area. Many of the foam designed boxes are covered with a non skid vinyl and one of the benefits of foam is that it absorbs some of the impact during a landing. This is worth considering as one of the downsides of this type of training is the stress to your feet, ankles, knees and hips from jump training.
When you are starting out do consider a stackable box system as this allows you to start low and go higher. The stackable systems allow you to start as low as 8” and then build up to 30”. You may also want to consider wood over metal as it can be more forgiving on your shins should you miss a jump.
Plyometrics has well documented sports benefits but it also has a high injury rate. These injuries are often caused by bad landing surfaces, jumping from too high a platform or someone simply not being fit enough for the exercises they are doing. Our advice would be to check that you are fit first and to enlist the help of a personal trainer.