Plyometrics also known as plyo is primarily jumping and hopping exercises. It is essentially quick explosive movements where you are jumping over something and landing softly. You eccentrically lower your body and concentrically explode your body up using your legs as power and then you land eccentrically to absorb the shock. There is very little isometric movements in ploymetrics. Isometrics is where you are stationary and there is no movement.
Plyometric training is mostly used for athletes who have to jump or explode quickly in different directions such as basketball players, soccer players, football, etc etc. However everyone can benefit from plyometric training and it is not just for the fitness elite or athletes. During everyday life you may need to jump over something or make a quick explosive movement to avoid getting injured. With plyometric training you will enhance fast twitch muscle fibers, these are muscles which fire very rapidly and make quick muscle movements. Think of a sprinter running a 100 yard dash, the explosive power comes from fast twitch muscle fibers. On the other hand slow twitch muscle fibers are muscles which are used for long periods of time. For example the muscles around your spine to keep you standing up straight, or a marathon runner utilizes a lot of slow twitch muscle fibers.
Another benefit of plyometric training is teaching your body proper landing mechanics. Sure you might be able to jump over the toddler which darted out in front of you but if you land with your legs straight then you might end up hurting yourself. With plyometric training you learn how to softly absorb the landing using your muscles to slow you down. Whenever you land you are in the eccentric phase (lowering phase).
I like to do plyometric training with a BOSU ball. This is the blue half circle you normally see at the gym. I like to land on the BOSU ball because it adds a proprioceptive element to the landing. Proprioceptive is basically yours body’s ability to gauge the position of the body and how much strength or tension is involved to keep your equilibrium. Think of when you are walking and you step off of a curb you did not see. When your body lands on a different surface your body will automatically adjust itself to keep you from falling over or twisting an ankle. Of course this does not mean you will never fall over or hurt yourself but if you train proprioceptive your chances of getting injured are a lot lower.
Now you know why you should be doing some plyometric training, but don’t start off trying to jump onto a 30” box. You need to be at a pretty good fitness level to achieve these heights. You should get with a fitness professional to gauge your current fitness level and then you may progress to more challenging exercises like, jump squats, tuck jumps, long jumps, box jumps, single leg box jumps, etc etc. You should also consult with your doctor to make sure plyometric training is right for you, it can be very taxing on your cardiovascular, skeletal, and nervous system.