This Plyometric Workout for Beginners Will Get You to Enjoy Jumping Exercises

If you're a total newbie to the training style, turn to this plyometric workout for beginners to test out some staple exercises and start building up your athleticism and power.

Women Doing Star Jumps
Photo: Getty Images

No matter how much of a squat or lunge expert you consider yourself to be, the moment the word "jump" gets attached to those exercise names — and a typical workout now has a plyometric flare — you might feel overwhelmed, or simply skip that progression. How are you supposed to launch yourself off the ground and stay upright the entire time, anyway?

To help make plyometric workouts a bit less intimidating, study these tips on how to safely incorporate the training style into your routine. Then, try a five-move plyometric workout for beginners that has modifications, so you can adapt it to meet your current experience level, needs, and goals.

How to Add Plyometric Workouts to Your Fitness Routine

In case you need a refresher, plyometric training features explosive exercises that involve producing the maximum amount of force in the shortest amount of time, says Chris Ryan, C.S.C.S., a certified personal trainer with MIRROR and a lululemon ambassador. These moves typically entail jumping, leaping, bounding, and changing directions rapidly, and tackling them regularly can help build athleticism and improve bone mineral density, adds Lydia Howard, M.S.W., R.Y.T.-200, a personal trainer and movement coach at Current Wellness in Raleigh, North Carolina.

To score all benefits the plyometric workouts have to offer and simply spice up your stale fitness routine, keep these pointers in mind. The key takeaway: "Plyometrics should be treated like any exercise: Master the basics, start small, [and] less is more," says Ryan.

Master the Basic Movements

Before you attempt to hop up onto a plyo box for the first time, you'll want to first nail down the foundational, jump-free movements, says Howard. More specifically, you should practice squats, lunges, planks, push-ups, and wall sits in order to perfect your form and build up the strength necessary to complete the plyometric movements, she explains. In order to properly (and safely) execute a jump squat, for example, you'll first need to master the bodyweight squat, which is a foundational exercise, she adds.

On the same token, you should also work on improving your mobility, balance, and coordination before adding in plyometric moves, says Ryan. "If you can't stand on one leg for 10 seconds — both right and left [individually] — or do a perfect lunge or squat, then perfect those movements and coordination/balance patterns first," he adds. "Once that is working for you, try some skipping for maximum height and then a simple squat jump."

Focus On Quality, Not Quantity

Whether you're a total beginner or you've been practicing plyometrics for a few months now, don't get caught up on performing dozens of reps, says Ryan. "Less is always more when it comes to reps, as the power production decreases with each subsequent rep," he explains. "The same holds true for rest intervals: If you are breathing hard during plyos, then you need more rest to get the maximum gains for power output before you begin your next set." Depending on your goals and the exercise you're doing, you might do just one to three reps for three to five sets, taking several minutes to rest between sets, he says. Once you get the hang of the movement, you might do about 10 reps per set, adds Howard.

Consider keeping your workout length short, too, suggests Howard. "Don't try to do a 30-minute plyometric workout right away," she says. "Maybe set a goal of 5 minutes or 10 minutes. It's just like that couch to 5K — you're going to start small then work your way up."

Listen to Your Body

Due to the high-impact, high-intensity nature of plyometric workouts, you'll want to listen to your body throughout your training session — and tweak your workout to meet your current needs. "You need to check in with how you are feeling," says Howard. "If you're feeling pain, then be aware of what the next option is to step it down a little bit. If you're starting a lot of negative self-talk, it's probably good to check in with yourself [and consider] what's going on with the movement that you're doing and what would be another option that would be better suited for you." Establishing this mind-body connection is key to keeping you injury-free and ensuring you actually enjoy your workout.

Don't Be Afraid to Modify

If you're not quite ready to move on to the full-fledged, high-impact plyometric exercises after you master the foundational moves, feel comfortable modifying the move so it works for you and your body, says Howard. You can remove the jumps to practice the proper form, or you can hold onto the back of a chair, a kitchen counter, or a TRX strap as you work on your balance,she suggests.

5-Move Plyometric Workout for Beginners

Ready to give plyometrics a shot? Try this plyometric workout for beginners, created and demonstrated by Howard, to get a taste of the training style. Each move will test your power and speed, and the workout itself will challenge your entire body.

How it works: Do each exercise in the circuit for 40 seconds and follow each exercise with 20 seconds of rest. If the plyometric exercise feels too challenging, modify with the suggested move or try 30 seconds of work and 30 seconds of rest. Do all five exercises in the circuit, take a rest break for the amount of time your body needs, then repeat the circuit as many times as you'd like. Just cap the workout at 15 minutes.

What you'll need: a plyo box or platform and a medicine ball

Star Jump

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides.

B. Slightly bend knees, then jump toward the ceiling, simultaneously spreading legs out to the side and lifting arms out to the side and over head.

C. Quickly reverse the movement of legs and arms and land softly.

Continue for 40 seconds.

Modification: Do jumping jacks

Plank Side Hop

A. Start in a table-top position on the floor with hands stacked directly under shoulders, knees bent and stacked directly under hips, and feet together.

B. Lift both knees off the floor and straighten legs to come into a high plank position on palms, squeezing glutes together and engaging core. Actively push away from the floor and maintain a straight line from head to heels. This is the starting position.

C. Keeping feet together and core engaged, hop both feet up and to right side of body, knees bent at roughly 90-degree angles and in line with hip.

D. Hop both feet back to center to return to a high plank position, then hop feet up and to left side of body.

Continue, alternating sides, for 40 seconds.

Modification: Step feet up and to sides one at a time

Lateral Bound

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and elbows bent and hands in front of chest.

B. Jump laterally to right and balance on right leg as left leg crosses behind right, making sure to keep left toes off the floor.

C. Quickly jump laterally to the left and balance on left leg as right leg crosses behind left, making sure to keep right toes off the floor.

Continue, alternating sides, for 40 seconds.

Modification: Step to the right and left and tap toes to the floor

Box Jump

A. Stand in front of a plyo box with feet hip-width apart and arms at sides.

B. Bend knees slightly, then press through the floor to jump up onto the box, simultaneously raising arms over head.

C. Land softly on the box with both feet. Then, step backward off the box one foot at a time.

Continue for 40 seconds.

Modification: Step onto the box one foot at a time

Rotational Ball Toss

A. Stand a few feet from a wall, right side facing wall, with feet shoulder-width apart and hands. in front of chest holding a medicine ball.

B. Bend knees slightly. Then, while rotating trunk to the right and driving through hip for power, toss the medicine ball against the wall. Avoid locking knees and keep feet in place throughout the movement.

C. Catch the medicine ball, then quickly rotate trunk back to center and bend knees slightly.

Continue for 40 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Modification: Hold ball in hands throughout the movement

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