Saturday, March 13, 2010

Go ahead, jump!

I know, I'm sorry. You now have Van Halen's "Jump" in your head. I can't remember if it was in mine when I took the picture above, but one thing is for certain—I got more air than the picture indicates. Just sayin'.

I'm also sayin' that jumping is a great tool in the gym, provided you don't have any serious knee injuries right now or anywhere in your past. But if your knees are good, then I say you "might as well jump." Maybe with a rope. Jumping rope is an excellent form of cardio. Trust me when I say it kicks my butt (literally and figuratively) every time.

You might also try jump squats. Stand with legs slightly wider than your hips, squat normally—don't bend your knees beyond your toes—then jump up instead of standing up. Return to your starting position and repeat for whatever amount of reps fits your fitness plan. Oh, and keep your hands behind your head. Let your legs, not your arms, do the work.

This type of training is called plyometrics. It's when your muscle is loaded, then contracted quickly. A lot of athletes use plyometric training to increase strength and speed, which equates to more power. But anyone can benefit—plyometric training is great for weight-loss, too. But you have to make sure you're keeping a good eye on your form to avoid injury. And if you haven't strength trained before, you might want to avoid plyometrics until your strength and stability increase a bit. "Can you see what I mean?"

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