Have you ever done plyometric (or plyo) workouts?
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m a NASM certified personal trainer with continuing education and over six years of experience with in-person and online training. In other words, I don’t know everything (no one does), but I do know a good bit.
One of the things I know is that if you see a program with high rep plyometrics or jumping for “fat loss,” you should run. Run fast and run far because that is not a program that will help you achieve your goals.
The problem with plyo for conditioning
I’ll be honest, this type of “conditioning” is something I USED to do (like I literally used to do 45-minute plyo workouts all the time). But I learned better through my certification and working in sports performance.
What I know now, based on strength and conditioning standards set by the NSCA, and years of seeing people royally f*ck their joints doing high rep “plyo workouts,” is this:
Plyometric movements such as box jumps, squat jumps, and plyo push-ups are meant for developing POWER and EXPLOSIVENESS.
These workouts are NOT “targeting body fat” or “toning” you.
Plyo workouts are highly taxing on your joints due to the amount of force they have to absorb when you land, and your muscles only have a few reps worth of max-effort explosiveness before performance quality and form start to dwindle.
What does that mean? Because plyo workouts are not designed for conditioning you have a recipe for wasting your time and having exercise potentially working against you by increasing injury risk.
If you’ve only got a few good reps in the tank, but your workout program is asking you to do 10-12 reps, you’ll have garbage form for most of your reps. You are way more likely to get injured if you push through even though your form is dwindling.
This means that all the time you’re spending doing burpees and a million squat jumps may or may not be wasted. While I know they’re not the most effective movements for losing body fat they’re suuuper effective when it comes to making your knees and backache the next day!
I spent far too long doing things like burpees and crazy jumping exercises that I did when I was a college athlete. That was great for the sports that I played back then but now, I’m just trying to live my healthiest life. And that means being as pain-free as possible.
You don’t need plyo workouts or to be hopping around for 45 minutes in order to lose body fat. My high level 1:1 clients are losing on average 10 lbs a month of body fat without doing any burpees. (Seriously, not even one!)
Where plyo workouts fit
It’s also worth noting that there’s a suggested testing battery that you should pass before incorporating plyos into your workout routine. The testing considers things like balance and stability.
If those things aren’t in check, you should hold off on doing plyo workouts to reduce your risk of injury. This is not to say that you should never do plyo workouts. However, just like any other exercise, plyos do have their time and place.
Plyos done WELL are usually:
- early on in a training session
- low repetition sets
- done for max EFFORT (height and/or distance), NOT max REPS
- provide FULL recovery between sets to ensure peak output in the next set
You can see why this style of training came in handy for professional basketball, when I needed to be quicker and more agile. Are you still playing competitive sports? No? Then you don’t have to train that way!
And if you’re the rebellious type and are considering performing plyometric workouts, definitely make sure that you warm up properly and take care of your joints afterward!!!!!
Take care & Stay Nourished!!