6 plyo exercises that’ll get your heart pumping one explosive movement at a time


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Photo: Getty/ Guido Mieth

If you’re like me, you’re always on the search for new and improved ways to switch up your workout routine. Instead of constantly cycling through one boutique fitness class after the next, it never hurts to teach yourself a few bodyweight movements to turn up the heat wherever you are. That’s where plyometric exercises come into play.

“Plyometrics can definitely spice up your workout,” says certified trainer Kate Ligler, who’s also the Mindbody wellness manager. “These power-packed movements stimulate several muscle groups at the same time, plyos are great for increasing strength, coordination, and agility. Sound like your cup of tea (er, pre-workout fuel)? Ahead you’ll learn how to perfect six plyometric exercises from the comfort of your own home.

1. Fast feet plus plyometric jumping: “This is my favorite exercise and is great for performing with a friend,” says Flywheel instructor Marc Daigle. Move your feet up and down as quickly as possible. On your partner’s cue, move left, right, or back to center. Return to fast feet immediately after each cue. On your partner’s command: tuck jump (jumping off the ground bringing your knees as close to your chest as possible, butt kick (jumping and moving your feet off the ground towards your butt) or burpee.” The trick is to return to fast feet immediately to keep your heart rate up at all times. Perform each round for 30 to 45 seconds. This will light your calves, legs, and core on fire.

2. Plyometric lunges: “Step your right foot back and your left foot forward and lower your body to the ground—ideally with a 90-degree bend in both your front and back knee, should mobility and strength permit,” Ligler instructs. “Explosively scissor jump to switch foot positions as you again lower to full range of motion.” Repeat this process for four sets of eight reps per leg and you’re sure to feel it in your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.

3. Plyo push-up: “Start in the push-up position with your abs and glutes engaged (think of a pushup as a plank that moves),” Daigle says. “Bend your elbows and lower your chest until you are close to the floor (about a fist distance). Press yourself up quickly and with force so that your hands leave the ground.” Repeat until burnout for a heart-pumping workout. This will scorch your chest, shoulders, arms, and core.

4. Robot planks: “Start in good plank position on your elbows,” Ligler advises. “Tighten your core and explosively drive your palms into the floor with your chest to jump up to your hands. Walk back down to your elbows and repeat for four sets of four to six reps. By the end of the workout your core, chest, triceps, and upper back will be quivering.

5. Multi-planar jump: “Squat slightly as if sitting in a chair,” Daigle instructs. “Jump forward as far and controlled as possible. Land softly while maintaining flexion in the knees and hips.” Return as quickly as you can to the starting position. “Progress this by jumping laterally (frontal plane) and progress further by rotating 90 degrees before landing,” Daigle suggests. This will ignite your legs and core.

6. Plyometric deadlifts: “Envision picking a pencil off the floor while balancing on one leg,” says Ligler. “The key is to extend the non-balancing leg behind you and maintain good posture (long spine) as you reach toward the ground. Once your hand touches the ground, explode upwards driving your knee toward the ceiling to get max height on your jump.” Repeat the movement for four sets of four to six reps per leg and your hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors will feel burnt out in the very best way.

If you’re a sucker for a solid at-home workout, you’ll swoon over this pilates floor routine. And don’t even get us started on this trusty plank series.

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