Before answering the question ‘How often should you do plyometric training’, let’s have a look what plyometric training trains and what the adaptations to plyometric training are.
What does Plyometric Training work on?
The main adaptation(s) to plyometric training is mainly neural adaptations, which means it has an effect on the nervous system. I have outlined the main adaptations to plyometric training in the articles
The nervous system needs more time to recover from training impulses, depending on the training intensity 48 -to 96 hours. With this in mind, we can do plyos every 2 – 4 days depending on the training intensity, therefore the ideal training frequency per week should be 2 to 3 training sessions per week with at least one day of recovery in between. Also, check out the article from Bodybuilding.com What Is The Best Plyometrics Workout? that recommends 1 – 3 plyometric workouts a week with at least 1-day rest between the training.
Next to the recovery of the nervous system, the higher the intensity of the plyometric training, the higher the impact on the active and passive structures of the body (muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc). The higher the training intensity, the more recovery between the training sessions to recover and adapt to the training impact. Consequently for higher training intensities, a maximum of 2 training sessions a week is recommended, with at least 2 days of recovery in between.
What is Plyometric Training Intensity?
Training intensity in plyometric training can be quantified in the impact or the stretch-load that is placed on the body, for example, a higher drop height in a drop jump results in a higher impact or stretch-load and thus more recovery from such a session is needed.
Check out the interview with Dr. Jeremy Sheppard on How to Increase Your Vertical Jump for Volleyball where Jeremy talks about Drop Jumps from various heights (30 centimeters, 40 centimeters, 50 centimeters and 60 centimeters), as a means of intensifying the plyometric exercise, but also to use the different heights to profile the athlete.
What kind of Plyometric Training should I do?
The answer to that question depends on, what you want to achieve with plyometric training and what the demands of your sport are?
You have to decide what you want to use the plyometric training for. You basically have two options, you can choose the plyometric exercises to work closely to the demands of the sport (looking at similar movement patterns) or you choose plyometric exercises to stimulate the nervous system maximally.
An example from my day to day work, when I used to work with tennis players, we looked at the plyometric activity within the sport, as an example in the split-step.
For those who are not familiar with tennis, I will explain quickly what I mean, the split-step is a short hop of the tennis player before the opponent hits the ball. The reason is, that the player can react quickly after landing from a split-step as opposed to simply waiting flat-footed on the ground.
This split-step is a plyometric activity, but not very intense. Consequently, the plyometric training for tennis mainly consists of low-intensity plyometric exercises focusing on a quick contact on changes of direction.
If you want to stimulate the nervous system, basically teach your nervous system to ‘fire’ faster / activate the muscles faster, you choose high-intensity plyometric exercises. This approach doesn’t look specifically at movement patterns of a sport, it focuses purely on the neural component.
What is Plyometric Training Volume?
The plyometric training volume is calculated in total repetitions, so all repetitions you do in a set multiplied by the number of sets.
In the literature, you might find the calculation of total ground contacts, which is essentially the same. One ground contact is one repetition.
High-intensity plyometrics are done less frequently, as discussed, and also trained with lower training volumes (fewer repetitions, fewer sets).
Low-intensity plyometrics can be done more frequently and are also trained with higher training volumes (more repetitions, more sets).
To understand the principle have a look at the article The Holy Grail of Strength Training – Sets and Reps
This article talks about the relationship between intensity and total repetitions in a strength training, plyometric training follows the same principle.
Can you do Plyometrics every day?
Another frequently asked question is whether you can do plyometrics every day.
My usual answer to this question is ‘Why would you want to do that?’
One of the basic principles of training is understanding how adaptation occurs through different stages
- You set a stimulus (through training)
- You need to recover from that stimulus
- You adapt to the stimulus
- The cycle repeats and you set the next stimulus
I have outlined in more detail in the article How often should I Back Squat
However, the same is true for Plyometrics, you do plyometric training to get a certain adaptation out of it.
You do the plyometric training and need to allow enough time to recover and adapt, as I have outlined earlier in this article.
Increasing the plyometric training frequency and doing plyometrics every day will not speed up the process of recovery and adaptation and might even be counterproductive to what you want to achieve.
Hence, can you do plyometrics every day? Yes.
Does it make sense, and will help you to become faster and more explosive? No.
Concluding How often should you do Plyometric Training
Plyometric Training is very strenuous on the nervous system and requires full recovery between the different plyometric training sessions.
Plyometric Training intensity is measured by the impact or stretch-loads, higher training intensities require less training volume and more recovery than lower training intensities.
Plyometric training can be used as training for the nervous system or to improve sport-specific movement patterns.