Plyo your way to power the powder
December 23, 2011
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; If you are a skier whoand#8217;s looking for more punch in the powder this season, plyometrics and rapid response drills deliver. They can be done in the gym or outdoors before the snow finally hits.
Plyometrics, also known as plyos, are drills designed to produce fast powerful movements and to improve the functions of the nervous system, generally for the purpose of improving sports performance. Most people identify plyos with the following exercises: jumps with two-legged take-off and two-legged landing; hops with one-legged take-off and same leg landing; and bounds with one-leg take-off followed by the opposite leg landing.
The benefits of plyometric training extend far beyond improved performance in a particular activity or sport to general daily movement. Any movement, for example walking, constitutes a plyometric. Besides the performance-related benefits of improved explosive power and reaction time/responsiveness; plyometric drills decrease injury potential by improving tolerance to stretch-load, efficiency and energy return, and dynamic stabilization.
In order to experience benefits, we skiers need to hone our plyo practice by reducing the time between the onset of the eccentric (loading phase) and the onset of the concentric (work phase). Letand#8217;s use the squat jump as an example. We want to quicken the time between the start of the downward movement to the lowest, flexed point, and the start of the explosive movement up to full extension. We will also see improved power by reducing the transition time between the end of the eccentric phase, the lowest point of the load, and the start of the concentric, explosive work phase.
Skiers will also benefit from rapid response drills, which are low-force, high-speed movements that improve their reaction forces and quickness. These quick concise movements complement the full range of motion plyometrics.
To ensure a safe progressive plyos exercise plan, it is best to start with higher volume and less intensity, until the technique is nailed; then gradually increase intensity while reducing reps. It is also important to start with more simple movements and progress to more complicated. For example, start with two legged jumps and eventually progress to one-legged, multi-directional hops.
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Before starting a plyometic program, it is essential to build foundational single leg strength and movement patterns. And always hit plyo workouts with a thorough warm-up and utmost attention to technique to best ensure injury prevention.
One of my favorite dry-land ski workouts is as follows. For warm-up, start with movement preparation (exercises that warm and elongate muscles; and activate propioception, key stabilizers and the nervous system, among other benefits) exercises. In the warm-up include a circuit of single-leg squats, mini-band glute activation exercises and short bouts of jump roping.
Then head out for a run-plyo combo workout. My plyo-playground of choice is Martis Valley just outside of downtown Truckee along Highway 267. Along the four-mile perimeter loop, I stop at different points that provide natural plyo props and perform circuits consisting of a mix of plyos and rapid response drills. I usually shoot for circuits containing three different drills and perform three to four sets of 10 reps, and hit three to four different stations around the Valley.
Spicing up your dry-land training with these drills will improve strength, agility, proprioception, balance and coordination. But the proof is in the power.
About Julie Young
Julie Young, CEO 02fitness (Optimum Outdoor Fitness) Coaching and Training. Julie Young is a Truckee resident. Career highlights include: Six-time Cycling World Championship team member; Olympic alternate; Overall general classification winner of the Tour de Land#8217;Aude, womenand#8217;s equivalent of Tour de France; Overall general classification winner Tour dand#8217;Aquitaine, France; Stage wins and podium finishes at Tour de Land#8217;Aude, Tour dand#8217;Aquitaine, Tour of the European Economic Community, Molenheike, Tour dand#8217;Epinal and Grand Prix de Quebec. Young can be reached at email@example.com.