A Pugilists’ Plyometric Exercise Program
Guess what…punching is plyometric
All striking is plyometric exercise.
Fighters and Martial Artists know: dropping your guard, leaving an opening for an instant in the ring, cage or mat is like leaving your front door open then jetting off to the Bahamas for a week. Expect something, someone to fill that opening.
This is why fighters also know, a fist, a thigh and shin, a forearm, are the last things defending that incoming ballistic fist and the tender fleshy parts of your nose.
Fighters throw strikes at blinding speeds. And, those strikes must return home, to guard, at the same velocity, probably faster. There can be no wasted effort, no wasted movement or time.
Young fighters spend weeks in tedium, ripping repeating strikes into photographic, accurate punches before ever learning their first basic combos. The smart ones will spends more monotonous weeks learning to retract those coiled fists as fast as they rip them.
Exploding, hitting, then retracting… all at blistering speeds, with the most acute of timing: this Is punching, and definitive plyometrics. Punching is plyometric because plyo moves are rapid stretches followed by instantaneous pauses and releases of explosive force.
That “force” is the sum of a regular contraction PLUS the rapid stretch.
This is why plyometric exercise is so vital for fighters.
Incorporating punching plyometric is important, but using plyometric exercise in a total training routine is even better.
Spend a couple days every three weeks doing just plyometric exercise during strength and conditioning for gains in power, strength, activation and movement.
Seconds in the regular world are hours in boxing, in all combat arts.
A Different Kind of Burn
Plyometric exercise burns differently.
That familiar tingling creeps up the byways and highways of your muscles feels different, almost energizing. Skullcrushers and front squats cannot mimic this burn. Mile runs and double-unders don’t blaze like quite the same. It feels like every tendon and muscle fiber snuggly bend and contort around rushing blood tributaries.
Plyometric exercise and training favors the determined, the bored, the inventive and the power-hungry. Existing somewhere in the fitness ether, plyo is that bit of extra.
These are plyometrics for fighters, for athletes, for those who need to perform.
So, instead of just working exercises in the same, one plane of motion, let’s explore the possibility of plyometric exercise…
…in the transverse plane (grapplers, this is for you), laterally and doing so for each major muscle group instead of just one.
This type of plyometric exercise allows you to add weight, to yield more results from your training days.
Work most of these in sets of 30 to 60 seconds of all out work for at least 3 sets each with rest periods of about 60 seconds too.
Pyramid the sets, and do 90 seconds for sets 2-4, and 30/60 seconds for sets 1,5 is you’re advanced.
Remember, if there is no counter-movement, or explosive movement, it isn’t true plyo. Non-true plyo, while useful, doesn’t boost your power, your muscle activation and stretch cycle reflex. Also, if you do not immediately explode, this is not plyometric… plyo involves immediate explosive force.
A Plyometric Exercise for Each Body Part
Each muscle groups in our bodies is capable of plyometrics. Think about it.
We spend lots of time focusing on either upper body or lower body plyo, possibly both, or with moves that appear plyometric, but aren’t (like agility moves or calisthenics).
We know the traditional plyo already… the medicine ball rebounds, the box/tuck/one-legged jumping, the “dot drill” (not true plyometric), the push ups and speed skaters.
Let’s consider more. More plyometric exercise that folks may not know as plyometric, like sprinting, kettlebell swinging, smith machine tosses and bounding.
In fact, try these exercises.
TRX Curl to Seated Bosu
Sit upright on a Bosu or trampoline with fully extended arms and the TRX in your grips. Using about eighty percent of just your arms and upper body, bend your arms hard and stand. Your elbows should be bent at least to ninety degrees into a full bicep curl. As max tension is reached, flex your triceps and extend youe elbows and descend unto the bosu with speed. Bounce up into a fully arm curl position.
• Bouncing helps your biceps into the eccentric (over-stretched) position and provides the impetus for the immediate flex.
• 20 reps (1-2 sets), 15 reps (sets 3,4) 12 (set 5) with active rest of ninety seconds in between.
At the Power Tower, start with your feet in any grounded position but elbow bent to ninety or slightly more degrees. Hop up hard with your hands wrapped tightly around the dip bars the whole time. Hop high enough so you can hold a fully extended arm position for an instant and descend back to the floor. Hop up again.
• Adding a Bosu or trampoline modifier made the action easier for more reps.
Push up to Box
Starting with a narrow step of a stack of three 45lb plates, get into a push up position with tight core, straight legs and arms. Descend at constant speed until arms bent to 90-120 degrees. Drive your palms into the floor and flex your triceps hard until to spring away from the ground. Simultaneously bring your hand close on the plates. Walk hands off and go again.
DB Fly to Ball Bounce
Perform a fly with tight elbows. So upper arms bound off of the ball and rebound into the air.
Start the Bent Over row with bumper plates preferably. Extend until your shoulders are fully extended, but your spine is rigid still, with a tight core. Start the row but instead, open your palms and release the grip as the bar flies up to your belly. Allow it to touch your belly then grasp at the bar immediately, extending downward toward the floor. Start again with fully extended shoulders.
Rhomboids and delts (rear mostly) are over-stretched, explosively pulled to a stop, then stretched again.
TRX Row to Seated on Bosu
Extend hips until the hips are ninety percent extended. Jut hips so body comes to tippy toes. Then elevate.
Weighted Depth Jump
Step onto the bench or box with a lightly loaded bar. Extend one foot out about six inches ahead approach the floor, landing with both feet at the same time. As soon as you land (you will be in a squatted position), explode vertically, jumping up into the air as high as possible. The key is jumping as soon as you land.
In the stirrups, extend your knees to fully straight with toes pointed up to the ceiling and your abs and glutes tucked tightly. Pushing down on the TRX with your heels, bend your knees quickly, pulling your heels toward your butt. Immediately extend to straight legs again. If you are advanced, you can squeeze your glutes and roll your spine, lifting your hips off the floor. Stop at your mid back, release, and explode again.
Rebound medicine ball
Ab wheel with Band
Pike to PU on Ball
With toes, ankles, shins or knees on a Swiss ball and hands in a PU (push up) position, keep your core tight. To stretch your abs and start the move, squeeze your butt hard and extend your hips slightly below your shoulder plane. Immediately flex your hips hard and rip the ball toward your belly. Stop when your hip cease raising, and let them fall back toward the floor AT STRAIGHT PU POSITION. Repeat.