Building a Safe Plyometric Progression

Get better at the sports you play and the life you lead at STACK. Improve your training, nutrition and lifestyle with daily

Many athletes spend too much time in the weight room trying to increase power with barbells and dumbbells. While they have their place, these tools are not necessarily the most efficient way to develop power.

Plyometrics are a great way to improve explosive power, and they also teach the body to absorb force. But plyometrics are one of the most misunderstood and abused training modalities in the sports performance industry. They must not be used haphazardly in any training program. You need to follow a progressive program to build form, strength and power.

Below, I provide a simple and safe template for plyometric progression. I use it with all athletes, from a Super Bowl champion linebacker to a high school sophomore point guard; and, after using it for many years to achieve performance goals, I have yet to see an athlete who uses it get injured.

Before we begin, note the following terminology:

Jumps – To jump off two legs and stick the landing on two legs
Hops – To hop off one leg and stick the landing on the same leg
Medial – To hop sideways with hurdles to the inside of knee
Lateral – To hop sideways with hurdles to the outside of knee
No Gravity – The athlete will jump or hop onto a plyo box (Block 1)
Gravity – The athlete will overcome gravity and jump or hop over a hurdle or hurdles, landing on the ground (Blocks 2-4)
Eccentric Strength – The ability to absorb impact upon landing from jumps or hops

Block 1 – No Gravity

Monday: Bilateral

Tuesday: Unilateral

Wednesday: Recover

Thursday: Bilateral

Friday: Unilateral

Box Jumps Single-Leg Box Hops Recovery Day Single Lateral Box Jumps Lateral Box Hops

Block 2 - Gravity Introduction

Monday: Bilateral

Tuesday: Unilateral

Wednesday: Recover

Thursday: Bilateral

Friday: Unilateral

Hurdle Jumps

Single-Leg Hurdle Hops

Recovery Day

Single Lateral Line Hops

Lateral Hurdle Hops

Block 3 - Gravity/Elastic Introduction

Monday: Bilateral

Tuesday: Unilateral

Wednesday: Recover

Thursday: Bilateral

Friday: Unilateral

Hurdle Jumps

Single-Leg Hurdle Hops

Recovery Day

Single Lateral Line Hops

Lateral Hurdle Hops

Block 4 - Gravity/Elastic Introduction

Monday: Bilateral

Tuesday: Unilateral

Wednesday: Recover

Thursday: Bilateral

Friday: Unilateral

Hurdle Jumps

Single-Leg Hurdle Hops

Recovery Day

Single Lateral Line Hops

Lateral Hurdle Hops

Block 1
Duration: 2-4 Weeks
You should not progress to the next block until you demonstrate complete control, and your coach says you have mastered all exercises. This will generally take two to four weeks.

Jumps

Perform all jumps onto a plyo box. Jump onto the box, softly sticking the landing in a good athletic position; do not allow your knees to cave in. Once the exercises are completed, step down from the box—do not jump.

Sets/Reps: 3-6x3-6

Hops

Perform all hops onto a four- to 12-inch plyo box. In the photo below, the athlete is using a 12-inch box, but I recommend a much smaller box [four to six inches] for a beginner or a heavier athlete.

Follow the same coaching points as the Jump exercises.

Sets/Reps: 3-5x3-5

Medial and Lateral Hops

As stated above, medial means the box will be to the inside of the jumping leg; lateral means the box will be to the outside of the jumping leg.

When performing Medial and Lateral Hops, use the coaching points from the Jump and Hop exercises.

Sets/Reps: 3-5x3-5

Block 2
Duration: 2-4 Weeks

Do not progress to Block 3 until you demonstrate solid landing skills. This generally takes two to four weeks. This block is very important in developing a strong athletic foundation, so do not rush through it. You can only produce as much force as you can absorb.

Jumps/Hops

Gravity is introduced in this block. You jump over a manageable object, such as a mini hurdle, and stick the landing—meaning your knees do not cave in and you hold the landing with no movement for two full seconds.

Sets/Reps: 3-5x3-5

Medial and Lateral Hops

Be sure to practice good form for these hops. Remember, in Medial Hops, the hurdle will be to the inside of the jumping leg. For Lateral Hops, it will be to the outside of the jumping leg.

Sets/Reps: 3-5x3-5

Block 3
Duration: 2-4 Weeks
This block contains low-level repetitive jumps and hops. An elastic component is introduced, and athletes continue to overcome gravity.

Jumps

Jump over the hurdle and upon landing, quickly jump again. Stick the landing in an athletic position; do not allow your knees to collapse. Repeat for desired number of jumps.

Hops

Follow the same coaching points as the Jumps section, but these exercises focus on quick repetition. After landing in a good athletic position, quickly hop again.

Medial and Lateral Hops

Apply the same principles from the Hops section to these exercises.

Sets/Reps: 3-5x3-5 (for all sections)

Block 4
Duration: 2-4 Weeks

This is your true plyometric block. You must clear small, stable objects while on one leg. For example, hop over mini hurdles in an explosive repetitive manner.

Jumps/Hops/Medial and Lateral Hops

After clearing a hurdle, land in a good athletic position. Explosively repeat the jump as quickly as possible. Stick the landing in a good athletic position after the last jump.

Sets/Reps: 3-5x3-5 (for all sections)

Still trying to build up explosive power? Our Explosive Training page has the drills and suggestions to help.

 

Photos:  Courtesy of Jason Spray

A strength and conditioning coach at the collegiate level since 2002, Jason Spray is currently the director of strength and conditioning for men's basketball and assistant director for football at Middle Tennessee State University, where he also aids in day-to-day physical and nutritional development. Spray earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Middle Tennessee and is CSCS, SCCC, USAW, NSCA, NASE, FMS and CSCCa certified. He is also a USA Weightlifting Club coach and a certified physical therapy aide. Spray has trained athletes ranging from high school to professional and Olympic levels. He has been featured in Premier Players Magazine and is the head sports performance adviser for RSP Nutrition.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: PLYOMETRICS | WORKOUTS | COACH | POWER | RECOVERY | JUMPING | HURDLES | RECOVER | PLYO BOX