Plyos with Purpose
Plyometrics are a crucial part of training for any athlete. Plyos are another word for jump training - the combination of speed, explosiveness and maximal force with the ultimate goal being to increase power (speed x strength). If done correctly, they contribute greatly to successful movement on the playing field.
Its important to see plyos as an explosive and powerful movement - I place great emphasis on this because this will dictate how and where its placed in a training session. With the sudden rise of popularity in High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), plyometrics have been associated with an increase in heart rate used for maximal fat burning. Although these are great benefits to them, when training to increase your jump power (vertical jump, broad jump, general explosiveness, etc.), its important to have a focus when using them in your programming.
If training for a sport, plyometrics should be kept to lower reps and longer recovery periods. The end of a warm-up is generally a good time to do them as your body is prepared for the movement, but you haven't exhausted your muscles in a lift yet. Let's use a standard box jump for example. Performing 6 repetitions will ensure that each rep is a quality one (no sloppy reps!), and following that with a 60-90s recovery period. This ensures that the second set will be just as good as the first because you've given your muscles a second to chill out.
Now, going back to the HIIT training ... plyometrics are a great addition to circuit-style training. They challenge your muscles and your cardiovascular system. BUT, you should still always have a focus in mind; making sure you're performing quality reps to really reap the benefits. If its a timed sequence, aim for as many good reps as possible. Getting sloppy? Take a second, BREATHE, and squeeze in a couple more reps before the timer goes.
So what I'm trying to say, is that its important to have a focus for your plyometrics in a training session. If its to build explosive power in your legs to translate into you sport or combine testing - then make sure you are performing fewer reps with lots of recovery. If you are integrating it into a full body circuit day - then make sure each rep is done properly and don't sacrifice your technique for speed.
Happy jumping, homies!