Peak Now: The Power of Plyometrics

After logging hundreds, or thousands, of miles over the spring and summer, you’re ready to finish the season strong, but you can make it even stronger. “Plyometrics” is Latin for “measurable increases,” and that’s just what these exercises deliver to your ability to produce and sustain power.

Based on jumping, leaping and other explosive moves, plyometric exercises condition muscles to detonate on demand so you have the split-second force you need to jump to attack, sprint to the finish or crank up steep inclines.

Research shows that a twice-weekly plyometric routine can boost power endurance–the ability of your muscles to contract at near max force for a greater amount of time–by 17 percent in just four weeks. The following program contains three lower-body moves to power up your hips, glutes and legs, and two to target your core.

Do one or two sets of eight to 12 reps twice a week, allowing at least one day off between efforts (and avoid these in the few days before a big event). This routine assumes you have good strength and balance. Proper form and technique are essential. Warm up thoroughly, and always land softly by coiling your joints like a spring as you hit the ground. If fatigue is making your form sloppy, stop. Plyometrics work best when you practice quality, not quantity.

STAR JUMP From a standing position, crouch toward the floor. Swiftly jump upward and outward, opening your legs wide and moving your arms out, creating a star shape while in the air. As you land, bringing your legs back together and arms to your sides, bend your knees until your hands touch the floor on each side of your feet.

PEDALING SPLIT JUMP Stand with your right leg forward and your left leg behind you. Bend your right knee and dip your left knee toward the floor, so you’re in a lunge position. Extend your arms out to the sides. Swiftly jump up, switching legs in midair, driving the back knee up (like the upward pedalstroke) as you bring it forward. Softly land in a lunge position and immediately jump again.

BLAST OFF Stand facing a step 8 to 12 inches high. Plant your right foot on the step. Forcefully push off the right foot and jump straight up, swinging your arms forward and up for added momentum. Land with your right foot on the step and immediately push off for the next rep. Complete a set, and then switch legs.

OVATION PUSH-UP Lie facedown on an exercise ball with both hands on the floor on a cushioned surface or exercise mat. Walk your hands out until the ball is under your thighs, and position hands directly below your shoulders. Keeping your torso straight, bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor until arms are bent 90 degrees. Push up as hard as you can, clap your hands once, and return to the push-up position before immediately dropping into another repetition.

TOSS CRUNCH Lie back on an exercise mat, knees open to the sides, soles of feet together. Hold a light medicine ball (or basketball to start) over your chest with both hands, elbows bent out to the sides. Contract abs by pulling your navel toward your spine, and then quickly lift your head, shoulders and upper back off the floor, tossing the ball straight up toward the ceiling. Hold the up position, catch the ball and return to start.

From – Selene Yeager, a USA Cycling certified coach, keeps you fit and healthy.

The Muddbunnies encourage and welcome female riders of all experience and skill levels to join them in getting down and dirty. Come on, ride like a girl!

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