How many reps for Plyometrics should you do? You might have read 3 * 10 or sometimes 3 * 20, what is the ideal number for a plyometric training?
This article and video discusses
- How many repetitions should you do in a plyometric training
- The importance of inter-serial and intra-serial rest periods
- My own experiences and why the advice you read isn’t always the best advice
- Exceptions to the rule, when selecting the right plyometric rep range
How many reps should you do in a plyometric training?
The number of repetition depends on your training goal.
In order to determine how many reps you should do in a plyometric training, you also need to understand the neurological and metabolic requirements for an optimal plyometric training.
What does that mean?
For a plyometric training to be effective, it needs to provide a high neural stimulus with no to very little fatigue. That means, a high neural stimulus is determined by the training intensity, and the duration should be short that it elicits no fatigue.
Check out the article 3 Unbreakable Plyometric Training Rules from Stack, which outlines, that you need to limit your reps.
From a metabolic standpoint, a plyometric workout requires a high activation of the Phosphagen system or the ATP-CP system, which provides energy for short periods of time (around 6 – 10 seconds).
For more details check out the article 3 Steps to Develop your own Power Training Method
Consequently, everything you do in your plyometric training needs to be somewhere between 6 to a maximum of 10 seconds and should produce very little fatigue.
How many reps for Plyometrics – considering inter-serial and intra-serial rest periods
Another aspect and training variable in your plyometric training program are inter-serial rest periods and intra-serial rest periods.
Inter-serial rest is the rest between sets. As an example, you completed 5 counter-movement jumps and you rest for 4 minutes. This piece of information you can find very often in the literature.
However, the intra-serial rest is the rest between repetitions and this piece of information isn’t very often addressed but is very important.
An example of an intra-serial rest is, if you complete a counter-movement jump, you reset yourself to get ready for the next jump (which might take 2 or 3 seconds) and perform the next counter-movement jump. This short period of rest is the intra-serial rest.
In a plyometric training, it depends pretty much on the plyometric exercise you are choosing, whether there is an intra-serial rest or not.
Let me explain.
If you chose an activity like hurdle jumps, there isn’t any intra-serial rest, conversely, if you chose a plyometric drill such as the box jump, there is an intra-serial rest for the simple fact, that after you jumped on the box, you have to get down off the box and get ready for the next box jump.
Consequently, the plyometric drill you are choosing has also an influence on how many repetitions you can do. In the given example, if you do hurdle jumps you are much more limited than if you do box jumps.
Concluding, to make a complicated topic short and simple.
The duration of a plyometric exercise shouldn’t exceed 6 – 10 seconds, however, the number of repetitions you do in a plyometric drill is dependent on the plyometric drill, whether there is an intra-serial rest or not.
For a continuous plyo exercise, such as hurdle jumps, you can choose lower repetitions, between 4 – 6 reps and for plyo drills with an intra-serial rest, you can choose higher reps, for example up to 10 reps. I personally prefer to choose lower reps and outline my rationale in the next paragraph.
How many reps for Plyometrics – my own experiences
If you read some popular literature on plyometric training you might find exercise prescriptions of 6 – 10 reps, or even higher, such as 12 – 15 reps.
From my experience with my athletes, I have found that the prescriptions are far too high.
Why is that?
We use the counter-movement jump to monitor the readiness and fatigue of the athlete. We use the position transducer and force plate to measure the velocity, as well as the rate of rate of force development.
I have found over and over again, that if my athletes do counter-movement jumps with a maximum effort, I see that they are able to do 4 to 5 maximum repetitions, after that the velocity decreases. Bear in mind, that we do counter-movement jumps, where they have an intra-serial rest of 3 seconds or more.
If they do more reps, like 6, 8 or 10, I can see the velocity and rate of force development decreases, which is an indicator that the plyometric training is not effective anymore.
What has this taught me?
In order for a plyometric training to be effective, I much rather break down my repetitions during the training and perform lower repetitions (up to 4 or 5) and increase the number of sets to match the total volume.
Check out some guidelines for total volumes in the article Principles of Plyometric Training from Coaches Education.
How many reps for Plyometrics – an exception to the rule?
Do you always have to limit your repetitions to 4 or 6?
If you want to get faster and more powerful yes, you should limit the reps, however, there are exceptions to the rule, if your training goal is different.
If you are in a sport, where your footwork pattern is plyometric I nature, such as tennis or boxing, where you have some low-level plyometric activity but for an extended period of time.
If you want to train this plyometric pattern and the ability to last or reduce fatigue during the execution of this low-level plyometric activity, you need to train differently.
You design plyometric drills with higher repetitions and incomplete rest between the sets.
However, then also your training goal is different and you aren’t focused on increasing speed and power, but you are focused on decreasing fatigue.
Concluding How many reps for Plyometrics
The next time you ask yourself ‘How many reps for Plyometrics?’ think about a high neural stimulus, that the metabolic demands don’t exceed 6 – 10 seconds and whether the plyometric activity you are choosing has an intra-serial rest or not.