Run Faster, Jump Higher, Hit Harder
By Arnie Cooper
A sneaker slogan? Nope. It's plyometrics -- a few simple
exercises that will change your life.
Developed for Soviet athletes, plyometrics came to the States in 1975 via
track-and-field guru Fred Wilt. Whereas weight training makes muscles bigger,
plyometrics makes them faster, by improving a muscle's stretch reflex, or the
speed with which its energy is transferred to movement. No matter the sport,
plyometrics can make you better. Quickly. Here, four exercises from Neal Pire,
author of Plyometrics for Athletes at All Levels, to work into your
Objective: Run faster
Drop into a squat and jump onto a bench. Always land on the balls of your feet.
Spend as little time touching the ground as possible. Two sets of ten.
Objective: Jump higher
Step off a bench with your right foot. Upon landing, immediately explode
vertically as high as possible. Repeat, alternating legs. Two sets of five.
Objective: Move quicker
Set two markers four feet apart. Start with your right leg in front and your
left foot behind you. Explode to the left and land on your left foot, bending
your left knee to cushion your landing. Immediately jump back onto your right
foot, like a speed skater. Two sets of ten.
Objective: Hit harder
Bend your knees slightly and hold a medicine ball at your chest. Pull the ball
up and behind your head, then slam it on the ground as hard as you can. When it
bounces up, catch it. Two sets of five.
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