Why (and how) you should implement explosive movements into your warm-up.

In previous blog posts, we’ve hinted at the importance of adding plyometric (explosive) exercises to your pre-lift warm-up. Because of the level of supporting research, a more comprehensive breakdown is fitting. 

Popularized in the U.S. by Fred Wilt, plyometrics originated from the Soviet Union’s Aeronautical Engineering Institute and led to tremendous increases in performance for elite track and field athletes. The depth jump was the first of these plyometric movements, and now the same principles have expanded into an amazing number of exercises. [1] 

In a 2003 study examining the effects of high-intensity plyometric movements prior to max testing, researchers found that 2 depth jumps 30 seconds before 1RM squats resulted in a significant 3.5% increase in performance in collegiate athletes. [2]

Researchers have been able to repeat this phenomenon across plyometric exercises that recruit similar muscle groups as the subsequent lift or performance. In an analysis of plyometric alternate-leg bounding and its effects on sprinting, results demonstrated that 10 and 20m sprint velocities were significantly improved. [3]

The post-activation effects of plyometric exercises were also seen in a study evaluating explosive push-ups prior to bench press. Power output and bar velocity were significantly increased in the test subjects compared to control. [4]

As you may have noticed, the critical elements of using plyometric movements are timing and specificity. Doing weighted clapping push-ups prior to squatting is unlikely to help you. Similarly, doing weighted jumps 10 minutes before squats will certainly help you warm up but is unlikely to significantly impact your power under the bar. [5]

When you start adding in these priming movements, give some consideration to what muscles are used and when you will perform the lifts. As we noted earlier, something as simple as two depth jumps 30 seconds before squats will help you out. There is a lot of room for experimentation, so get creative, have fun with it, and throw some weight around. 


References

  1. Verkhoshansky, Natalia. Shock Method and Plyometrics: Updates and an In-Depth Examination. Verkhoshansky Special Strength Training Methodology. 2012. 
  2. Masamoto, Naoto; Rich Larson, Todd Gates, Avery Faigenbaum. Acute Effects of Plyometric Exercise on Maximum Squat Performance in Male Athletes. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2003 Feb
  3. Turner, Anthony P.; Same Bellhouse, Liam P. Kilduff, Mark Russell. Postactivation Potentiation of Sprint Acceleration Performance Using Plyometric Exercise. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2015 Feb; 
  4. Krzysztofik, Michal; Michal Wilk. The Effects of Plyometric Conditioning on Post-Activation Bench Press Performance. Journal of Human Kinetics. 2020.
  5. Burkett LN, Phillips WT, Ziuraitis J. The best warm-up for the vertical jump in college-age athletic men. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;