Plyometrics for martial arts will help to increase your explosive power, your speed and your ability to change direction quickly. On their own, plyometric drills have limited effectiveness. They are most useful when performed in conjunction with a strength training program. In fact without a strength base, plyometric training can do more harm than good.
Before performing plyometrics for martial arts you should be thoroughly warmed up. Not only will it help to prevent injury but it can also increase the effectiveness of the drills. It does this by increasing the sensitivity of the muscle spindle, which contains the fibres (called intrafusal fibres) that register the amount of stretch within a muscle.
Start with 10 minutes of aerobic exercise – jogging for example. Jogging on the toes is also often used as part of the warm up. Try to incorporate upper body movements such as arms swings and circles for example. Next perform some dynamic stretches to the upper and lower body. Kicks and leg swings make good dynamic stretches.
Here are some more important guidelines when performing plyometrics for martial arts:
- Plyometrics is not recommended for anyone under the age of 16 – especially more demanding drills such as depth jumps.
- Plyometric exercises won’t leave you out of breath but do not be tempted to add in more sets and repetitions.
- Perform lower body plyometric exercises on a soft surface such as grass or exercise mat.
- Two to three sessions of plyometrics per week is ample.
- Rest completely between sets for 3 to 5mins. The goal is not fatigue but to complete each repetition with the maximum amount of speed and intensity.
- A plyometric session should not contain more than 120 ground contacts for any muscle group.
- Do not add extra load such as ankle weights or a weighted vest as this can lead to injury and negatively effects the quality of the drills.
- Keep the torso erect during the movements — it prevents undue strain on the lower back.
Plyometrics For Martial Arts – Upper Body
Plyometric Push Ups
- Start by getting into a push-up position.
- Lower yourself to the ground and then explosively push up so that your hands leave the ground.
- Catch your fall with your hands and immediately lower yourself into a push up again and repeat.
- Repeat for the recommended repetitions.
Single Arm Throws
- Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
- Grasp medicine ball and lower body into a semi-squat position. Explode up extending the entire body and throwing the ball up into the air.
- The goal is to throw the ball as high as you can and generating most of the power in the legs.
- Catch ball on the bounce and repeat according to prescribed repetitions.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart; place left foot approximately one foot in front of right foot.
- Hold medicine ball with both hands and arms only slightly bent.
- Swing ball over to the right hip and forcefully underhand toss ball forward to a partner or wall. Keep the stomach drawn in to maximize proper usage of muscle.
- Catch ball on the bounce from your partner or wall and repeat according to prescribed repetitions.
- Stand with feet parallel and knees slightly bent.
- Pull medicine ball back behind head and forcefully throw ball down on the ground as hard as possible.
- Catch the ball on the bounce from the ground and repeat according to prescribed repetitions.
Plyometrics For Martial Arts – Lower Body
- Jog into the start of the drill for forward momentum.
- After a few feet, forcefully push off with the left foot and bring the leg forward. At same time drive your right arm forward.
- Repeat with other leg and arm.
- This exercise is an exaggerated running motion focusing on foot push-off and air time.
Zig Zag Hops
- Stand to the left of an agility ladder or similar object approximately 1-2 feet away.
- Forcefully push off both feet and land the on the other side of the ladder.
- Repeat and land feet back on the other side, continue repeating and so on down the ladder.
- Do not “double hop” upon each landing and keep ground contact time to a minimum.
Lateral Barrier Jumps
- Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart with right side of body facing the barrier.
- Hop to the right using both feet over the barrier.
- Jump back to the start point.
- Repeat according to the prescribed number of repetitions.
Lateral High Hops
- Stand to left side of box and place right foot on top of box.
- Push off the box using the right leg only and explode vertically as high as possible. Drive the arms forward and up for maximum height.
- Land with opposite foot onto box. Repeat with the other foot.
- Repeat according to prescribed number of repetitions.
Plyometrics For Martial Arts – Sample Session
Remember a single session should contain only a limited number of exercises and sets. Focus on 1 or 2 drills for the lower body and 1 or 2 drills for the upper body in any one session.
Plyometric Bounding – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Single Arm Throws – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Lateral Barrier Jumps – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Side Throws – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Lateral High Hops – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Plyometic Push UPs – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Zig Zag Jumps – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Slams – 3 sets x 8-10 reps
Jacky has a degree in Sports Science and is a Certified Sports and Conditioning Coach. He has also worked with clients around the world as a personal trainer.
He has been fortunate enough to work with a wide range of people from very different ends of the fitness spectrum. Through promoting positive health changes with diet and exercise, he has helped patients recover from aging-related and other otherwise debilitating diseases.
He spends most of his time these days writing fitness-related content of some form or another. He still likes to work with people on a one-to-one basis – he just doesn’t get up at 5am to see clients anymore.