Sports that require explosive speed and power need the right application of plyometric training exercises to match. Every strength and conditioning coach implements one or more of the following exercises as they are highly effective and simple to do.
1) Medicine Ball Throws
The medicine ball is an excellent piece of equipment that is so simple yet effective. All professional fighters implement throwing techniques with the medicine ball to work their upper body.
The motion and muscles involved in throwing a punch is the same as throwing an object, therefore the added weight of a medicine ball is a benefit. The majority of the following medicine ball throwing techniques does not require a partner.
One Arm Throw
Stand opposite your partner with your lead foot in front. Using your backhand, throw the ball overhand towards your partner’s head level, in the direction of your partner’s back hand.
Make sure that you both have your back hand raised high ready to catch the ball. Start slow at first, and once you’re both comfortable, you can gradually increase the pace.
Get into position with your partner opposite, and with both hands, hold the medicine ball against your chest. Throw the ball with both arms extended towards your partner’s chest, who will then catch it with both arms, recoils it back to their chest and then throws it back.
Alternatively, this is also effective by throwing the ball against a wall as hard as you can repeatedly, or against a rebounder.
Assume your position and with your partner facing opposite. Using both hands, raise the medicine ball above your hand, recoil the ball behind your head and then launch it with both arms extended towards your partner.
When you’re catching the ball, try and receive it slightly above your head instead of in front. It’ll reduce the impact on your arms, works your arm muscles more and leads to a smoother technique.
Sit Up Throw
Get into a sit up position with your partner doing the same. Make sure that you both have your feet facing towards each other.
With the medicine ball held against your chest with both hands, perform a sit up and as you go down, raise the ball above your head, come back up and throw the ball towards your partner’s chest level.
If you want to strengthen your abdominal muscles even more, when you perform a sit up, leave around an inch of space between your back and the ground.
Side Twist Throw
Assume the sit up position with your partner standing to your right side. Hold the medicine ball with both hands and recoil the ball to your left and then launch the ball towards your partner.
They will then throw it back with you catching and recoiling the ball again to your left. Once you’ve finished your set, switch sides and repeat.
2) Push Ups
The great thing about push ups is that you don’t need any additional equipment. With an added clap in between your push ups, it adds explosive power to your arms particularly your triceps due to the extra push you need to perform the clap. It also works your chest (pectorals) and shoulders (deltoids).
One Arm using Medicine Ball
Assume the push up position with one hand on top of a medicine ball. Perform a press up and with your free hand, push yourself off the ground and when landing, make sure that you bend your elbow. Once you finished your set, repeat with your other arm.
3) Free Standing Jumps
In combat sports, your legs are just as important as your arms. It’ll help you to step in and out of range quickly. You need great strength in your legs to go the distance and have a good bounce to always be ready to move. Practicing on your jumps will improve the spring in your step while making your legs powerful.
Stand with both feet together. Squat down to get as much spring as possible, then jump as far as you can, landing with both feet aligned. Repeat the jump immediately after landing. Your arms play an important role in jumping far.
In a standing position, swing your arms upwards and as you squat, swing them behind you then swing forward as you jump.
Assume the standing position with both feet together. Squat down and jump up as high as possible, using the same arm swing technique as explained in the long jump, but on your last swing you must reach upwards and stretch as high up as you can.
Find a flight of stairs with enough space for jumping. With your feet aligned, squat and jump up the stairs using the previous arm swinging technique. The number of steps you should jump all depends on your confidence and ability. When you’re comfortable with short jumps, you can jump over 2 or 3 steps at a time as long as the gap isn’t too far apart.
4) Hurdle & Box Jumps
Implement the technique that hurdle jumpers use for their training. This requires collapsible barriers standing one behind the other in a row. Choose a height that you’re comfortable with and increase it as you progress.
With both feet together, squat down and jump each hurdle one by one. Make sure that you swing your arms to get an effective jump. You must also ensure that the hurdles are collapsible just in case you don’t clear it.
Box / Platform Jumps
To get quick feet, the use of a box or platform is extremely effective. There are many methods you can perform a box jump. However, the most common and one that many boxers perform often is the marching technique.
Place one foot on the box in front of you, then jump and land with the opposite foot on the box while your other foot will land on the floor. Repeat again as quick as possible. You can also raise the platform higher for more intensity.
5) Baseball Bat To Heavy Bag
This technique is not very common when one thinks of plyometric training exercises.
However, a few elite level fighters have implemented this technique in their training regime which improves punching technique and power due to the motion of the swing.
You need a heavy bag, a baseball bat and a lot of space. Pull the bat behind your head and swing to hit the heavy bag with as much force as you can. Do the same for your other side also.
If you’re a beginner, then you should get your swinging technique right first before putting any force into your swing.
6) Kettlebell / Dumbbell Swings
Kettlebell or Dumbbell swings consists of low and high swings. It works your lower back, shoulder and forearm muscles. Firstly, select a light weight to start with before moving onto a heavier weight.
Position the dumbbell sideways in front of you. Spread your legs apart slightly, squat down and grab the dumbbell with your hands on each side.
Make sure that you have a tight grip, then swing the dumbbell upwards to face level while keeping your legs, arms and back straight as you come up.
Allow the dumbbell to fall downwards in between your legs while you bend your knees and back. Your forearms should touch your inner thighs on its return.
Once you’re used to the low swing, you can perform a high swing which requires you to perform the exact same technique but instead, you’ll swing the dumbbell above your head.
7) Battle Rope Waves
The Battle Rope Waves is a plyometric training exercise that requires intense use of your arms and works your upper body primarily. You must face the ends of two extended anchored heavy ropes.
Hold the end of each rope and with your feet apart and knees bent, lean back slightly then quickly raise and lower the ropes to initiate a wave. You can vary the wave motion to longer and shorter by adjusting the movement of your arms.
Short waves require short but rapid arm movements which improves the endurance in your arms.
Longer waves focus more on strength and power due to slower but more powerful swings. It’s best to work on both one after the other.
There are also many different types of battle rope exercises you can do to work different muscle groups.
To get the most out of your training, I highly recommend the following articles:
► How to Increase Punching Power
► 10 Tips to Improve Boxing Footwork
► Boxing Basics
► Top 10 Best Heavy Punching Bags
► Top 10 Best Boxing Gloves