This article was originally published on March 20, 2017.
Remember when we used to play hopscotch as a kid? We naturally practiced plyometrics, or jump training, without even knowing it. Plyometrics are body weight only exercises that challenge our fast twitch muscles for more explosive and powerful movements. Our fast twitch muscle fibers which are the largest and strongest fibers in our body. As adults, doing plyometrics is an effective way to burn fat, increase agility, and sculpt muscles. With regular plyo training, we can also strengthen tendons, improve coordination and reduce injury. The following plyometric exercises are focused on the butt and leg muscles but still require all parts of the body to work together.
1. Clapping Jumping Jacks– Warm up your whole body with 30 seconds of clapping jumping jacks. Start with your legs together, and as you jump your legs out, clap your hands over your head. As you jump your legs back together, clap your hands along the sides of your outer thighs. This gets all the body parts working together and fired up for more intense jumping. Remember to always land toe and then heel anytime you jump. Rest for 15 seconds.
2. X Jumps- Start with your legs in parallel close together. Squat down as low as you can go without rounding your back and keep your arms in by your chest. Jump up as high as possible as you extend and open your arms and legs into an “X” shape. To work more of your inner thighs, try bringing your legs back together in the air before landing. As soon as you land, bring your arms in and soften your knees into a close-legged squat again. Jump right back into the air for your second X jump and continue. Your abs must stay engaged at all times during these exercises to create power, maintain control, and prevent injury upon landing. Do for 30 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds.
3. Jump Squats– Squat with your legs about shoulder width apart. Make sure to keep your weight back and on your heels so that your knees don’t go past your toes. Hold your arms in front of your chest with your back straight and abs engaged. As you jump, squeeze your glutes, point your toes in the air and straighten your arms by your side. Land in a deep squat with your hands back in front of you. Go slowly in the first few to make sure your form is correct before speeding up. Do this for 30 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.
4. Lateral Lunges– Begin standing with your legs together in parallel. Lunge to one side by stepping one foot out wide enough so that you can straighten the opposite leg. You may keep your hands on your hips, or, for more of a challenge, touch both hands to the ground as you lunge. Just like the squat, keep your weight on the heel and your back as straight as possible as you perform your lateral lunge. From this position, start to transfer your weight to the other side as you shuffle once to the side to switch legs. As you are shuffling to the other side, straighten your body with your arms either on your hips or extended by your sides. Repeat on the other side and continue for 1 minute. Rest for 15 seconds.
5. Split Squat Jumps– Split your legs so that one leg is forward and one leg behind in parallel. Make sure your legs are far enough apart so that you can bend your front knee without it going past your toe. Your back knee should bend almost to the ground as your body lowers straight down to prep for your jump. Lift the opposite elbow up to the front leg as you bend your knees. Jump up and switch your legs and arms. Continue for 45 seconds. Rest for 15 seconds.
6. Single Leg Lift Hops– Lunge forward on one leg with the back leg straight. Touch the front toe with the opposite hand. As you jump off the front leg, pull the back knee in and up to the front of your body as you cross your opposite elbow to the knee. Land back in the lunge position on the same leg. Repeat for 15 seconds before switching legs for another 15 seconds.
Do this short but intense 5-minute routine 3 times a week to get your heart rate up while sculpting your backside!
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Video: Crystal Chin; Music: “Crystalfilm” by Little Dragon