Since when did plyometrics become “cool” to do in the gym? Wait, I remember, it was when Gerard Butler ripped his shirt off for 300 and the rumors started for how the Spartans got so shredded. The one that stuck was that there was a “300 Workout” that the good folks at Gym Jones put together that was just 300 repetitions of various exercises in a circuit. (25 pullups, 50 deadlifts with 135 pounds, 50 pushups, 50 jumps on a 24-inch box, 50 floor wipers, 50 single-arm clean-and-presses using a 36-pound kettle bell, and 25 more pullups.) So you want to tell me these guys just did that everyday?
That is crazy. Now they may have done stupid workouts and looked awesome for the movie, but let’s be honest these guy are actors. Would anyone disagree if I hinted that they might be in that .5% of the world that can do whatever they want and look awesome?
Ok, good, now that we know it wasn’t the “workout” (which they might have only done maybe once in their 6 months of training) we can move back to why people are doing all these box jumps and other plyometrics in the gym. It’s just a huge misunderstanding.
Plyometrics are basically jumping drills. These are done for power development by athletes and I certainly use them in all my athletic programming. This is not fat loss or look better programming. While I think everyone could stand to work on power, let’s go ahead and use our heads when doing this type of work, or don’t do it at all. I repeat, they are for power development (important for everyone), not looking better at the beach.
With that said, a more is better approach does not apply to training for power development. Every jump, or throw, when training for power needs to be at a max effort. Therefore we limit the work being done to make sure we don’t fatigue. Fatigued power work (read: 50 box jumps) does not train for power, it trains for injury.
Now on to the importance of jumping correctly now that we know when and when not to do plyometrics. Here is a quick video myself and Brendan put together. (although P90x doesn’t directly include box jumps that I know of, I still felt it was appropriate to call them out on the theme of poor exercise selection for the general population)