Hammer Plyometrics

In Coaching, Fitness Programs, Reviews by Dale HillLeave a Comment

This jump training workout will use your entire body to create force, speed, and power

Building a strong, sculpted body doesn’t require hours spent working out—just an expert approach. And with The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, seasoned trainers Sagi Kalev and Autumn Calabrese have compiled their best, most efficient techniques into 30- to 40-minute resistance-training workouts to help you craft a powerful, perfectly defined physique in just 60 days.

Throughout the entire 60 days, you’ll focus on Stabilization, Strength, and Power to rapidly build, sculpt, and refine your physique. Combine this training with proven portion-control nutrition-the way Sagi and Autumn do in The Master’s Hammer and Chisel-and you’ll build a body that’s strong, chiseled, and defined.

As I  embark on my own 60-Day Journey with The Master’s Hammer and Chisel, I will be reviewing each workout as they present themselves in the program calendar. I will add my own insights and observations about the workouts; the comments I make are my own as an Independent Certified Personal Trainer and do not necessarily represent the Celebrity Trainers or Beachbody. Full disclosure, I am also an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and a distributor of this program and all other Beachbody products. I hope the information I provide is beneficial in your personal fitness journey.

Hammer Plyometrics735x1102Plyometrics: noun plural but singular or plural in construction plyo·met·rics \ˌplī-ə-ˈme-triks\
1:  exercise involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (as by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power. plyo·met·ric \-trik\ adjective. [source: Merriam-Webster].  

Plyometrics, or simply “Plyo” workouts are usually referred to as Jump Training and focus on using explosive movements to build strength and power. The main principle behind plyometric exercise are to react with the the ground surface in such a way as to propel your body away from the ground with greater speed, this is also why you’ll hear plyometrics referred to as a “reactive” exercise.

There are three phases to all plyometric exercise which are often described by the state of the muscles during each stage of the movement: Eccentric, Isometric and Concentric. These phases can also be seen as deceleration, stabilization and acceleration.

During the eccentric movement you’re stretching the muscles, loading them in preparation for the move, much like stretching a rubber band.  Potential energy is stored in the elastic components of your muscles. When performing a vertical jump as in the first exercise of this workout, the eccentric phase consists of squatting down to gather your energy.

Just as when you pull back on a rubber band, there’s a pause when you reach the limits of the band, a point of stabilization. This is the transition phase between harnessing the potential power of the muscle and actually using it. The longer you stay in this transition or isometric phase, the less powerful your final movement will be – the key to generating maximum power is in a rapid transition between the eccentric and concentric movements. Unlike the rubber band, the potential elastic power in your muscles can dissipate the longer you wait to release the power. In our vertical jump example, the isometric phase is the bottom of the squat position.

The concentric phase is what you normally associate with the plyometric move, this is the actual jump or explosive movement – the “unloading” of the muscles. In your vertical jump, this is the push off from the ground. In many plyo moves you’ll engage other muscles to assist the move such as swinging your arms upwards and reaching overhead as you jump.

Your success in everyday life activities (and many sports) is dependent upon your muscle’s ability to generate force; and the general rule is “the quicker the better.” This is a trained response that is limited by the signals sent to your muscles by your brain via the central nervous system. Plyo training helps train and improve your neuromuscular coordination by engaging and exciting your neuromuscular system. The goal is to get the muscles firing faster and generating more power. It’s important to have mastered basic balance and stabilization exercises, developed good core strength, joint stability and have a good overall strength baseline before introducing plyo into your workouts. If you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to modify movements – learning the proper form and function of the move is essential to preventing injury. As you progress through the movements you can increase your range of motion and speed to increase the level of difficulty.

Now let’s take a look at what equipment you’ll need for this workout and get into each individual movement

The Vertical Jump is one of the best predictors of explosive power and strength in many sports, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not only reserved for basketball players, volleyball players or high jumpers. This move calls on your fast twitch muscle fibers and is a good measure of your ability to “get up and go” or “get out of the blocks”. In sports performance, this is the equivalent of measuring a race car’s ability to go from 0-60. As with all exercises in this round, you will perform the vertical jump for 30 seconds without stopping. Use your whole body, bending the knees and dropping down into a squat then exploding upwards, coordinate your arm swing to raise them over your head and reach as you jump.
Landing is critical, unlike cats, we don’t have the innate abilities to perform soft landings from high heights. Because of this, you have to pay more attention to improving your landing ability through technical training. Land softly (toe, ball, heel) before loading your legs to repeat the movement. Proper landing techniques in all plyometric movements is necessary to avoid injury.

The plyometric component of the Burpee Pull-up combination is the burpee, specifically how quickly you can drop to the plank position and explode back up to a full standing position. There are countless variations of the burpee, the most widely accepted is where you start standing, squat down, thrust your feet out to a full plank position, do a single push-up, quickly pull your feet back in and jump up, reaching both hands overhead.

You can progress this move by adding the push-up, but the standard execution is actually a half-burpee (yes, wait for it…a hurpee). Trust me, you won’t hear Sagi calling it a hurpee though!

This is a timed interval with two components, the burpee and a standard pull-up. Grasp the bar with palms facing outward, hands wider than shoulder width and using the large muscles of the back, pull yourself up. Variations include using a pull-up assist band, or if you don’t have a bar, you can secure a resistance band at a level above head height, assume a rear lunge position and use the same pulling motion focusing on the back muscles. SAFETY TIP: If you use a resistance band, inspect the band before use, use only approved means to attach the band to a door or other secure anchor. This is a great combo and you may be surprised at how many you can do when you’re switching between the two moves.

Leg In & Outs when done properly are going to get your heart rate hammering. This is a move that requires concentration and coordination. It really doesn’t matter what you choose as your starting position as long as you count full reps. Begin by straddling your bench (if you have a bench designed similar to those used by the cast, be sure that the horizontal leg support is under your feet as shown in the clip below). The exercise consists of jumping both feet from the straddled position, to bring them together on the bench, then rapidly jumping them back down to the straddle position. This is a 2-count move: one count to jump up, one count to jump down – repeat without hesitation or break for 30 seconds. Essentially as your feet hit a new surface you are rebounding off of it.

SAFETY TIP: As with many speed, agility or balance drills that involve stepping up onto your bench, you must ensure that the bench is stable and the surface is dry.

Concentration and coordination are necessary to hit the top of the bench cleanly and not get hung up by missing and hitting the side. As you progress and your legs tire, you will want to ensure you’re picking them up high enough to land squarely on the bench.

Plyo Push-Up Taps are an explosive and challenging exercise that develops the Pectoralis Major (“Pecs” or the primary chest muscle) with the assistance of the Anterior Deltoids (front of shoulders) and triceps. The “tap” portion of this move serves to ground you and provide focus after each plyo push-up, a variation would be tapping your opposite shoulder, alternating sides between push-ups. These are compound movements that bring several joints into play, the shoulder, elbow and wrists, so proper alignment and a cushioned landing surface (ie. plyo mat) is important to protect your joints.

The plyometric portion of this exercise is pushing your body away from the ground with enough explosive force that your hands leave the ground, the height you get will depend on the upper body strength in the muscles used, and your ability to direct that force. Don’t be frustrated if you’re not “getting a lot of air” when you start doing these, this is an advanced push-up. Pay attention to your landings, avoid locking out your arms, keep them loose with a slight flex to help absorb the shock when you land.

 

The Crazy Horse is another move that requires a very stable bench and explosive power to jump both feet over the bench, side-to-side. As shown in the photo below, you are jumping over the bench with both feet held together, as soon as you hit the ground you jump back to the other side. Control is important because you want to be sure to fully clear the bench with each repetition, your primary focus is executing this with correct form before working on increasing your speed. Land your feet soft and slightly bend your knees to absorb the shock; a quiet landing is a soft landing, so avoid slapping your feet to the ground.

The Chin-Up Crunch Squat Jump is a triple combination move that engages multiple muscles. The Chin-Up is performed with an underhand (palms facing you) grip at shoulder width, pull your body upwards until your elbows are by your sides, hold that position then flex your hips, rotating your knees up towards your chest. Lower your legs to a vertical position then lower your body to the ground. Step out from under your pull-up bar to perform the Squat Jump. The squat jump will be very similar to the vertical jump; feet hip width apart, drop into a squat with the top of your thighs parallel to the ground and jump up, raising your arms above your head to help propel you upwards.

As with the Burpee Pull-Up, this combination breaks up the chin-up move with the squat jump and helps you focus on maintaining proper form by alternating between moves, one rep at a time.

 

The Knee Driver combines a weight lunge with a vertical jump, I recommend you practice this movement a few times without a weight to learn the mechanics involved in the motion. I also recommend starting with a light weight the first time your do this exercise. Besides the obvious plyometric action of the vertical jump, you have to deal with balance issues and driving a dumbbell overhead while jumping up.

Select your weight and hold it in the hand opposite the leg you will be jumping with. Step back into a rear lunge, bringing the dumbbell to the ground near the instep of your forward foot, explode up driving through the heel of the forward leg while simultaneously pressing the dumbbell overhead. Land softly and drop back into the rear lunge position and repeat the move.

Maintain positive control of the dumbbell throughout the full range of motion and focus on body alignment and balance, if you find yourself losing balance and fall off to either side, slow down. The benefit of this exercise is the plyometric component – not how much weight you can press overhead, the weight should provide additional resistance but not be so heavy you can’t control it.

The Sumo Tuck Jump is a classic plyometric exercise, speed and jump height are your key variables. As with any jumping move, you’ll want to protect your joints by landing softly. Increasing depth and the range of motion in your sumo squat (prior to launching) will put more focus on your adductors (inside thighs). Explode upward maintaining the relative positioning of your feet, pull your knees upward so your thighs are parallel to the ground.

The key to the Lunge Lunge Squat is rhythm, this is a plyometric move so instead of stepping into each lunge, you will jump from lunge to lunge to squat and repeat, finding a balanced cadence. Balance and body position should be established first, then increase speed and the amount of “jump” you put into the movement. When you’re in the lunge position (either side), maintain 90 degree angles with your knees and focus on keeping your chest up and forward, this is easier if you keep your head up looking straight ahead (when you drop your chin and look down, you have a tendency to lean your torso forward).

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