What Is Plyometrics?

Plyometrics, a method for developing greater speed and explosive power, is now very popular in the athletic and fitness fields. It is based on the muscle/tendon stretch-shortening concept. This means that when a muscle/tendon is placed on involuntary forced stretch, it will contract (shorten) with greater force. More specifically:

  • The forced stretch creates great tension in the muscle and tendon. The greater the load during the forced stretching and the quicker the load is applied, the greater is the energy accumulated.
  • Energy for the reverse action is given back when the muscle and especially the tendon, undergo shortening to enable the action to occur.
  • Jumps are used most frequently in plyometric training. On a jump down the loading forces a stretch and in the jump up, the muscle/tendon complex shortens.
  • The most significant aspect of plyometrics is how quickly the action is executed, usually in 0.15 – 0.20 seconds.


Plyometrics was created by Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky a former Soviet sports scientist and coach, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He called his method the shock method which more accurately described what happens in a true plyometric action. Meanwhile in the United States Fred Wilt, a track coach, observed the Russians executing these exercises and labeled it plyometrics. In the 1980s Dr. Michael Yessis, who did some work with Dr.Verkhoshansky, introduced the shock method in the U.S. Upon reading his initial material other authors soon wrote books in which plyometrics were described as jump exercises not as shock exercises. They were easier to perform and the name plyometrics stayed with them.


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