Standard wisdom holds that plyometrics is exclusively for increasing explosive power and not maximal strength. In other words, it increases the rate at which you apply force, but not the total amount of force generated.
This wisdom is being challenged by an interesting study entitled Acute Effects of Plyometric Exercise on Maximum Squat Performance in Male Athletes.
The authors of the study took 12 volunteers, who were all trained male athletes, experienced with strength training and plyometrics. They found that performing depth jumps, a classic high-intensity plyometric exercise, performed 30 seconds before a max squat attempt increased the amount of weight the athletes could squat by an average of 3.5%.
This study, while too small to be conclusive, seems to suggest that depth jumps activate muscle fibers in the short term, temporarily increasing strength.
What I find interesting about this study is that it provides yet another reason to do complex training, in which plyometrics are sandwiched between maximal strength exercises. It is well known that this kind of training yields impressive gains in power and speed within a few weeks, but the new findings suggest it may also increase your squatting power.
If you’re not already doing complex training, this is another great reason to start. If these findings are borne out by larger studies, we may even see strength athletes, such as powerlifters, adopting plyometrics in their training regimes.
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