Adding a hop, skip, and a jump to your workouts boosts fat-burning and uses muscles you don't tap into while doing endurance work. Plyometrics, also known as jump training, form the basis for extreme workout programs like P90X.
"In addition to fat-burning, [plyometric moves] teach you how to rapidly decelerate the body and reaccelerate in the opposite direction," says Neal Pire, MA, CSCS, FACSM, owner at Inspire Training Systems in New Jersey and author of author of Plyometrics for Athletes at All Levels. This ability comes in handy whether you're chasing a ball to the sideline in tennis then immediately returning to center court, or simply jumping off the commuter bus and immediately jumping over a puddle onto the curb, Pire says. He recommends incorporating the following moves. Do them prior to your workout and after a thorough warm-up. Repeat each for 10 seconds, or five jumps.
Squat Hops: Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your hands clasped behind your head. Keeping your weight on your heels, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause in the squat. Without counter-movement and without the use of your arms, jump as high as possible. When landing, make sure to absorb the impact by pushing your hips back and flexing your knees.
Slalom Hops: Stand in an upright position with your knees slightly bent and your feet about shoulder-width apart. Flexing your knees to quickly drop your body 10 to 12 inches, rapidly explode upward, forward and to the side. Swing your arms forcefully upward. Upon landing, immediately repeat the jump, but jump forward diagonally in the opposite direction.
Speed-Skaters: Stand on your right leg with your left leg behind you with your left toe on the ground for balance. Flexing your right knee to lower your hips, explode to your left. Land on your left foot, bending your left knee to absorb your landing impact and bringing your right leg behind your left foot to counterbalance as you decelerate. Immediately reverse direction, leaping back onto your right foot.