How much do Plyometrics help
There are different applications of Plyometric Training, most often Plyometric Training is used to increase explosiveness and power, so that you can jump higher, run faster, kick and hit harder, throw faster, whatever applies to your sport. Check out the whole list of benefits including scientific sources in the article Plyometric Training from Science For Sports.
However, there are also other applications for Plyometrics, where it can help with your strengths efforts and endurance efforts.
Another long-term adaptation of Plyometrics is that it helps to strengthen the muscle-tendon complex, which has a positive effect on your strength efforts or endurance efforts.
Why is that?
I have outlined the story of Dorian Yates tearing his tendon, and raised the idea, that a stronger muscle-tendon complex could have helped to prevent that.
How can Plyometrics help your endurance efforts?
One example is, if you think about running, a stronger muscle-tendon complex can increase running efficiency. The stronger the muscle-tendon complex, the more the muscle contracts isometrically and the elastic energy is stored in the tendon. Hence there is less energy demand on an eccentric-concentric contraction. Check out the article The Science of Plyometrics: Key Questions on Jump Training from Freelap USA that outlines the increases in running economy due to elastic contribution.
Back to the question, how much can Plyometrics help?
There are a few important considerations.
For Plyometrics to be effective, you need to engage in higher intensity plyometric exercises.
In order to do higher intensity plyometric exercises, you need to have a certain training history and experience with plyometric training. That means, it requires a training history and a structured plan of multiple years.
The long-term plyometric progressions start with lower level plyometric exercises in the beginning stages and progress through more advanced higher level plyometric exercises at later stages.
I have outlined the idea of a multiple years builds up in the video below from minute 0:50
What increase you can expect from Plyometrics
I guess you want some quantifiable numbers, right?
Quantifiable numbers are always difficult, as the magnitude of progress is multi-factorial and difficult to generalize. So, please treat the following numbers, that I outline with care, as they are not written in stone, but can serve as a guideline.
The simplest way to look at improvements in Plyometrics is to look at a vertical jump, like the counter-movement jump.
Let’s have a look at possible improvements in a countermovement jump following a structured plyometric training over the span of 6 to 10 weeks.
Why 6 – 10 weeks?
If your goal is to improve performance, you will target improvements in neural efficiency and efficiency of the efficiency of movement, which takes a minimum of 6 weeks.
How much do Plyometrics help novice athletes?
For a novice athlete, the main goal should be learning the correct execution of plyometric exercises.
Learning refers to learning how to absorb forces and efficiently use the elastic energy that is stored in the muscles and the muscle-tendon complex for the plyometric action.
An improvement for a novice athlete can be somewhere between 10 – 20% over 6 to 10 weeks. As an example, a novice athlete with a vertical jump of 30 centimeters, with an improvement of 10 – 20%, which is 3 to 6 centimeters, can result is a vertical jump of 33 to 36 centimeters after 6 to 10 weeks of training.
How much do Plyometrics help intermediate athletes?
As an intermediate athlete, you can look at an improvement of 5 – 10% following a training for 6 to 10 weeks. A vertical jump (countermovement jump) of an intermediate of 40 centimeters can improve to 42 to 44 centimeters after following a structured plyometric training program for 6 – 10 weeks.
How much do Plyometrics help high-level athletes?
The better you become, the less the magnitude of progress.
A high-level athlete with a vertical jump of 55 – 60 centimeters can expect 2 – 5% improvement following a structured plyometric training plan over the span of 6 to 10 weeks.
That means if you have a vertical jump of 60 centimeters, you can expect these 60 centimeters to improve somewhere to 61 to 63 centimeters.
From these examples, you can see, that the scope of improvement you can expect of plyometric training decreases over time. That’s the Law of Diminishing Returns in action.
Check out the example of diminishing returns, which I have detailed in the article How much Strength Training do I need? how the returns diminish in the process of athletes getting stronger.
For more detailed information on how Plyometrics can increase your vertical jump, check out the interview with Dr. Jeremy Sheppard How to Increase Your Vertical Jump
Where can you expect quicker improvements with Plyometric Training?
From my experiences, I have seen, that there are areas, where you can see quicker improvements with Plyometrics. I found, that the influence of plyometric training on movement efficiency can reap quicker returns. Especially, if you look how well an athlete can move with specific footwork patterns.
In some sports, the footwork patterns of that particular sport are very plyometric in nature, such as Boxing or Tennis. There are certainly more sports, but these are sports, that I have worked with and I have seen the influence of plyometric training on improved movement efficiency first hand.
With an appropriate plyometric training program, you can see improvements in the efficiency of these footwork patterns in a shorter time span, like 10 – 21 days.
These adaptations are not structural adaptations to the system, however, you can see it teaches the athletes and their movements being more smooth and effortless.
Concluding How much do Plyometrics help
The biggest returns of plyometric training you will get from high-intensity plyometric exercises. In order to be able to perform these high-intensity exercises, you need to have a training history of multiple years.
On the flip side, the more advanced you are, the lesser the magnitude for performance improvements.
If you use Plyometric Training to improve movement efficiency and the effective use of elastic energy you can expect quicker performance improvements.