Monday, November 23, 2015

Mission: Fit Monday | Plyos for Powerful Legs

Liem and I are currently in flight to Las Vegas to spend our Thanksgiving with family. It’s been a hectic day to say the least getting us both packed and on the plane. Considering the fact that my workout routine won’t be as tight this week and I plan to indulge a bit (okay, a lot) over the holiday, I made sure to get a workout in before taking off.

Lately, I’ve been incorporating plyometrics (plyos for short) into my workouts to rev up my training. Plyos consist of high-intensity, explosive movements that are intended to increase power (speed + strength). If you’re like me and not a big fan of traditional cardio, plyos are a fun alternative to running on a treadmill. Not only do they add a fat-burning effect to your workout by boosting your heartrate, but they simultaneously challenge and strengthen multiple muscle groups. I find that plyos help with my endurance and agility, things I can't achieve just by pushing weights. With that said, here are my current favorite plyo exercises that target the lower body:

1. Step-ups

Start by stepping up onto an elevated surface with your right foot (use something that when you place your foot on it, your knee forms a 90-degree angle). Press through your heel to lift your body up. Bring the left knee up to form a 90-degree angle and then back down to the floor. Repeat 15 times and then switch legs. Concentrate on exaggerating the step movement, making sure to engage the right quadricep and glute while pushing up.

2. Lateral Squat Shuffles

This is pretty much what it sounds like – a shuffle – except you’ll do it across an elevated surface (I like to use a step propped up by 3-4 risers on each side. The higher the step, the more intense the burn.) Step up laterally with the right foot. Then, carry the left foot to where the right foot was. As the left foot comes down on the step, lower the right foot down to the side opposite from where you started. Switch and go back the other way. The trick to these is bending your knees to get low and engage your quads as you push on and off. Once you have form down, try increasing your speed. Do 30 reps (15 per leg).

3. Jump Squats

With feet hip-distance apart, lower down in squat position with hips back and weight concentrated in the heels. Go as low as you're comfortable with, and then jump by pushing off the balls of your feet. As soon as you land, go right back down into the next squat. Do as many as you can in 30 seconds.

For an effective workout, perform each exercise one after the other, with little to no rest in between. Repeat the circuit 3 times. The bonus of plyos is that they're a lot of fun to do with a partner, too, so grab a friend and try ‘em out!

Happy Thanksgiving!

xo  Sc

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