Plyometrics 101

The importance of plyometrics cannot be more emphasized because it bridges the gap between strength and speed.

Plyometrics refers to exercises that enables a muscle to reach maximum force in the shortest possible time. (Can you say, “ground contact time”?) The muscle is loaded with an eccentric (lengthening) action, followed immediately by a concentric (shortening) action. This action is often confused with the stretch reflex reaction.

This handy checklist gives a high level overview on Plyometrics and particularly Depth Jumps.

General & Preparation

1. Wait until all the injuries are healed before beginning a plyometric program.

2. Do not confuse plyometrics with regular strength training. Balance the two, depending on the season and the loads according to the annual plan.

3. Introduce Olympic weight lifting first, especially power cleans from the ground. It is important that they acquire proper proprioception and co-ordination with the correct lumbar-pelvic rhythm, especially the knees, lower back and hips.

4. Start with depth jumps from the ground, then exploding upwards. If a sand pit is available, try the standing long jump, which is a common test for children to test for power, explosiveness and elasticity. The current world record is 12 feet 4 inches by a shot putter, not a sprinter of jumper.

5. Count the number of foot contacts per session, and perform the exercises on a grass surface to minimize wear and tear on the legs.

6. Quality not quantity is key for developing explosive strength. I always remind my high jumpers “Ultimately, you want to jump 7 feet once. Not 7 one-foot jumps”


NOTE: the volume MUST be tailored to each individual athlete.

7. A general guideline for each exercise is executed in sets of 10 repetitions, with 1-5 minutes of rest between sets

8. In general, you can do plyometrics 2 or 3 times a week, preferable at the end of practice. If you have a split session, make sure you have a few hours before each session.

9. The optimal dosage of depth jumps with an intense vertical or horizontal take-off in one training session should not exceed 4 sets of 10 jumps for well conditioned athletes and 2-3 sets of 5-8 jumps for lesser-conditioned athletes. Easy running and relaxation exercises for a period of 10-15 minutes should be done between sets

10. Depth jumps uses the central nervous system heavily. Therefore, they should be used not less than 3-4 days before a technique session. You can do some light strength work after a plyometric session.

11. During the competition period they should be included once every 10-14 days, but no later than 10 days before a competition.


12. Unlike weight lifting where you exhale on the concentric contraction (the force), your breath should be held and never released during the contact phase or landing phases where maximal effort is produced.

13. When doing depth jumping off boxes, remember to be relaxed when stepping off the box, not jumping off the box.

14. You should land on the balls of your feet, as the heel should not slam to the ground by momentum. This indicates the force (or the hight of the box) is too great.

15. Head posture and your “line of sight” direction play important roles in controlling all aspects of depth jumping. Pointing your head downward to look at the ground before take-off may result in an untimed muscle contraction or misaligned timing. Also, if the head is not thrust upwards during the take-off, maximal height will not be reached. Treat your body as a whole, and not just your legs to do the the work.

I think there’s enough evidence that strength training, whether in a form of free weights or plyometrics, will help improve an athlete, especially the acceleration phase.

Plyometrics Checklist with Sample Workouts from Don Chu

My first introduction on the topic of Plyometrics.

I bought the book Jumping into Plyometrics: 100 Exercises For Power & Strength over 15 years ago, years before I even attended a seminar with Dr. Don Chu, and years before I found out he was a high jump coach back in California.

In 2009, Don Chu was invited to speak our BC Recovery and Regeneration Seminar at SFU, BC, Canada. You can watch the full 2 hour video for free on my site.

If you are a beginner, or coming off a major injury, below is a sample from his book.  It’s a nice 10 week progression divided into 5 blocks.

Jumping into Plyometrics: 100 Exercises For Power & Strength

Low Intensity (2 Weeks)

Exercises – Sets/Reps
1. Squat jump – 3x 6-10
2. Double-leg ankle bounce – 3x 6-10
3. Lateral cone jump – 2x 6-10
4. Drop and catch pushup – 4x 6-10
Rest : 2 min
Progression : Add 1 rep each workout

Low To Medium Intensity (2 Weeks)

Exercises – Sets/Reps
1. Lateral cone jump – 3x 8-10
2. Split squat jump – 2x 8-10
3. Double-leg tuck – 2x 8-10
4. Standing triple-jump – 2x 8-10
5. Overhead backward medicine ball throw – 2x 8-10
6. Underhand forward medicine ball throw – 2x 8-10
7. Clap pushup – 2x 8-10
Rest : 2 min
Progression : Add 1 rep each workout until reaching 10

Medium Intensity (2 Weeks)

Exercises – Sets/Reps
1. Standing long jump – 3x 8-10
2. Alternate leg bound – 3x 8-10
3. Double-leg hop – 3x 8-10
4. Pike jump – 2x 8-10
5. Depth jumps – 2x 8-10
6. Medicine ball throw w/ Russian Twist – 3x 8-10
7. Dumbbell arm swings – 2x 8-10
Rest : 2 min
Add 1 rep each workout until reaching 10
Reduce weight each workout, max 20 lb

Medium To High Intensity (2 Weeks)

Exercises – Sets/Reps
1. Double-leg tuck – 3x 10-12
2. Single-leg zigzag hop – 3x 10-12
3. Double leg vertical power jump – 3x 10-12
4. Running bound – 3x 10-12
5. Box jumps – 2x 8-10
6. Dumbbell arm swing – 3x 12
7. Medicine ball sit-up – 3x 10-15
Rest : 2 min
Progression : Add 1 rep each workout until reaching 10-12

High Intensity

Exercises – Sets/Reps
1. Single-leg vertical power jump – 2x 12-8
2. Single-leg speed hop – 2x 12-8
3. Double-leg speed hop – 2x 12-8
4. Multiple box jumps – 2x 12-8
5. Side jump and sprint – 5x 3
6. Decline hops – 2x 12-8
7. Spring arm action – 2x 12-8
8. Medicine ball sit-up – 3x 15-20
Rest : 60-90 sec
Progression: Stress for and maximum explosion w/ each rep.
Decrease reps from 12-8 over two weeks.
Start w/ 5 LB and reduce to 1 LB stressing rapid arm action.

For further reading on plyometrics and reactive training:

  1. Plyometrics, Ground Contact Time, and Sprinting
  2. How to Weight Train without Weights
  3. Driving Resistance Band Training

Jimson Lee

Jimson Lee

Coach & Founder at
I am a Masters Athlete and Coach currently based in London UK. My other projects include the Bud Winter Foundation, writer for the IAAF New Studies in Athletics Journal (NSA) and a member of the Track & Field Writers of America.
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
Jimson Lee
  • Some good info on here, not sure if I agree with everything on here. Especially the part about foot contacts always being on the ball of the foot. Especially since just below that comment there is a picture of a guy doing a rolling foot contact prior to jumping. I think rolling,flat, and ball of foot jumps have their place depending on the type of plyo.

  • Could you be a little more specific when you say Depth Jumps should only be done 3-4 days before a technical day and not within 10 days of a competition? There are lots of types and varying intensity. What types of depth jumps would you say are high enough intensity to qualify under this rule?