When you combine calisthenics and plyometrics you get an explosive combination that builds serious power.
Plyometric exercises differ from normal exercises as they’re designed to train your body to deliver the most force in the shortest period of time.
That’s why plyometrics are so popular with athletes that have to move quickly and explosively to win.
Luckily for us, calisthenics and plyometrics go great together and in this article I’m going to show you how to do them correctly and give you plenty of exercises; both for beginners and seasoned pros.
What are Plyometrics?
Plyometrics are a form of exercise where someone performs a movement as fast and explosively as possible while still maintaining correct from for that exercise.
It’s used to build explosive strength that carries over to many different aspects of athleticism.
Plyometrics are especially important to athletes such as sprinters and martial artists as they have to be able to use their force quickly and explosively to compete.
A lot of people are confused by plyometrics because they don’t fully grasp the difference between force and power.
A person in a weight room who is lifting 200 pounds off of the floor is exerting the same amount of force whether it takes them ten seconds or five seconds to complete it but the amount of power generated is much different.
The faster the exercise is completed the more power is generated; which is what plyometrics are training you for.
One example from daily life would be when you’re playing with your kids at home.
If you pick up your son or daughter to give them a hug you’re moving at a normal and relaxed pace.
But if you want to play with your toddler and toss them up into the air and catch them then you’re performing a plyometric exercise.
How to do Plyometrics
Before you start doing any plyometrics you want to make sure that you’re starting from a strong base.
Plyometrics put a lot of stress on your joints so you want to makes sure that your body is good and strong before you begin doing them.
If you haven’t worked out in several years and you decide to begin with plyometrics your body is going to feel pretty beaten up.
Start by building a firm base of strength before you use plyometrics to build more power.
When you’re doing plyometrics, especially lower body plyometrics, you’re going to be doing a lot of hard landings so it’s important to know how to land properly.
Basically, quiet landings are good landings.
- If you’re jumping you want to be bending at your hips, knees, and ankles to absorb the impact with your muscles; not your joints.
- Make sure you’re landing on the balls of your feet and not your heels.
- Try not to let your knees move forward in front of your toes to lessen the stress on your knees too.
- And always keep your core tight.
Upper Body Plyometrics with Calisthenics
Clapping pushups are one of the most well known plyometric exercises for your upper body and it’s the one exercise here that almost everyone knows.
Basically, you want to lower yourself down as you would with any regular pushup but then instead of pushing yourself back up at a normal pace you’re going to explode up and off of the floor.
You want to do it so powerfully that your hands completely leave the floor and you have enough time to clap them together before straightening your arms to land back on the floor and go back down to the bottom of the pushup position again.
However, you want to maintain good form throughout this exercise.
Make sure that your back and legs remain straight so that your body is still forming a straight line or plank.
Also, only your hands should be leaving the ground. Your toes should remain planted the entire time.
Travelling pushups involve a slightly raised prop or surface that you move your body back and forth from throughout the exercise.
They’re similar to a regular plyometric pushup except that you move your body from side to side over the prop, such as a football, alternating which hand rests on the surface as you go back and forth.
This causes one arm to work much harder than the other and is great preparation for the next exercise below.
One Arm Plyometric Pushups
The one arm plyometric pushup is not an exercise that you want to try unless you are already very strong and experienced with calisthenics.
If you can’t do a one armed pushup normally then you definitely don’t want to put the stress on your body of trying it plyometrically until you’re body is strong enough.
Make sure to master the exercises above before moving on to try this one.
Dips are a great upper body exercise that are more difficult than pushups because you have to lift your whole body off of the floor.
Unlike pushups your feet do completely lift off of the ground; not just your upper body.
The only difference between regular dips and plyometric dips is that you’re going to push up from the contracted position with enough force to lift your hands off of the handles you’re using.
Make sure you’re strong enough to do these in a controlled manner as you want to be sure that your hands can safely grab the handles as you’re coming back down after throwing yourself up off of the bars.
The next two exercises we’re going to talk about are both pulling exercises as opposed to the pushing exercises described above.
That means that both are going to focus on your back and bicep muscles instead of your chest, triceps, and the front of your shoulders.
Plyometric rows are kind of like a reverse pushup as both of them have you raising your upper body while your feet stay planted on the ground.
The only difference is that with rows your face and chest is looking up instead of down.
To do plyometric rows you want to find a sturdy bar or surface you can get under and grip. Make sure it won’t slip or budge as you pull on it.
Next, you want to lie on the floor underneath it and reach up to grip it with both hands.
Now pull yourself up so powerfully that at the top of the position your hands can literally leave the bar and then grab it again before you start moving back down again.
Again, be careful when you do these that the bar or surface you’re grabbing is strong enough to support the stress you’re going to put on it.
Plyometric Pull Ups
Plyometric pull ups are an awesome back exercise but you need some serious strength to get yourself up to the bar with enough force to actually let go and grab again before going back down again.
To do one you want to get into a normal position for a pull up.
Reach up and grip the bar above you with both hands and then pull yourself up so powerfully that at the top of the movement you can literally move your hands off of the bar for a moment before gripping it again to lower yourself back to a starting position.
Lower Body Plyometrics with Calisthenics
The box jump is probably the most well known form of plyometric training.
It’s done by a variety of athletes in order to develop explosiveness and speed for just about any sport.
Box jumps are done by taking a sturdy box, about knee height for beginners, and simply jumping up onto it from a squatting position.
It’s important when you’re just starting out to not try and jump too far. Start with something reasonable and slowly work your way up.
Your knees will thank you for it.
The long jump is another explosive exercise which has you jumping as far as you possibly can.
Unlike many other plyometric exercises where you start from standing still a long jump is done with a running head start.
However, it is still an explosive movement that can build some serious strength.
Jump for Height
Jumping for height may sound kind of goofy; and it is. That’s why it’s fun.
Instead of jumping onto a surface in front of you, like a box, you’re just going to go down into a squat and then jump as high as you possibly can from that position.
It’s fun to see how high you can get; especially if you’re working towards your first slam dunk.
Jumping lunges are a cool plyometric exercise but they take some dexterity to do well.
Basically, you’re doing a lunge as normal but then from the bottom position you want to leap up so that you can swap the position of your feet and legs.
A lot of people do this as a kind of aerobic exercise but it’s really intended to be a plyometric exercise which shouldn’t be done repeatedly in an aerobic manner.
There are much better ways to condition your heart and lungs which won’t put as much stress on your joints.
However, this is still a great exercise to develop explosive strength from a different angle than the traditional squats used in box jumps.
Jumping Pistol Squats
The jumping pistol squat is more of a bucket list exercise than something you want to do on a regular basis because of the stress it can place on your knees.
However, if you can safely do a pistol squat and have proper mobility than you could try and perform your first plyometric pistol squat leap.
Just don’t over do it on this one.
One Legged Box Jumps
One legged box jumps are another extreme plyometric exercise but they can build some serious power.
If your muscles and joints have reached a level of strength where a normal box jump just isn’t as challenging you could begin to work this one into the mix occasionally.
Basically, you’re just performing a regular box jump but with only one leg.
One thing I’d recommend, though, is to only jump up in this way. Once you’re on top of the box step back down normally as you don’t want to damage your knee.
A back flip is an awesome acrobatic maneuver and is also a great way to develop explosive strength from a different angle than you usually would.
To be honest I’ve yet to do one myself but the guy in this video seems pretty confident that anyone can do them.
Maybe if I can find a good soft mat I’ll give it a try…
Plyometrics go perfectly with calisthenics as bodyweight exercises don’t run the risk of putting excessive strain on your joints in the way that weighted exercises can.
By using plyometrics with calisthenics you can teach your muscles to apply much more power and therefore take your training to a whole new level.
Just make sure that your joints are in good condition and perform the plyometric portion of your workout in the beginning when your muscles are at their peak.