But that’s not where the benefits end. The finding of a new study that suggests integrating balance drills with plyometric exercises, such as jump squats or vertical jumps, results in a “significant and substantial” improvement in muscle strength, power and speed. In the study, published in the Journal Of Sports Science And Medicine, subjects followed a balance and plyometric training programme, exercising on an unstable surface along with a series of jumping and hopping exercises. After eight weeks, performance in key athletic tests – including 10m and 30m sprints, and vertical jumps – improved by an average of 30%. Boost your performance by including some jump squats and Bosu ball squats as part of a legs session warm-up.
Stand facing a box or other type of stable raised surface that’s about the same height as the top of your shins. With your feet hip-width apart, do a quarter squat then swing your arms back while simultaneously exploding off the ground and onto the box. Land with both feet, then step back down and repeat. Do three sets of five reps, resting for one to two minutes between sets.
From a standing position, drop into a shallow squat, then explode up off the ground. Keep your back straight and bring your knees as close to your chest as possible. Land softly then either bounce on the balls of your feet once before taking off again, or for a harder challenge go straight into another jump as soon as you land.
Frog Squat Jump
Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Drop into a deep squat and sit back with your hands touching the ground between your feet for balance (like a frog). Then jump as high as you can and raise your hands above your head. Land softly and repeat.
From a standing start, move your weight onto your right foot and move your left foot behind your right – the toes of your left foot should touch or hover slightly above the ground. Then jump laterally to your left and, as you land, bring your right foot behind your left. Repeat the movement at pace.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then drop into a shallow squat and swing your arms back. Swing your arms through and jump forward as far possible. This simple but effective exercise acts as good measure of your progress when aiming to build explosive power in your legs – after a few weeks of plyometric exercises you should notice your broad jumps cover a greater distance.
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