Simple Plyometric Exercises You Can Do at the Park

1
Jumping for Power and Strength

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Plyo box exercises. Laura Williams

Adding plyometric box jumps to your workout - a style of jumping exercise that activates the stretch-shortening cycle in the muscles of your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves - can help maximize your lower-body power and strength. And while it's common to see this type of plyometrics performed using plyo boxes at the gym, there's no rule that says you have to have a special box to try the moves. All you really need is a sturdy surface to land on. For instance, you can do box jumps using nothing but sturdy park bench or an aerobic step.

The next time you head to the park with your kids, try your hand at a plyo box workout using the following six exercises. Just remember, if you're new to plyometrics, it's best to start with a low platform. If you're not ready to try jumping on a park bench, you can try a low step on a park playscape or even a raised curb. Over time, work your way up to a higher bench. 

2
Step Ups

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Step ups. Laura Williams

Stand behind a bench, step, or box, your feet hip-distance apart, your knees slightly bent. Step your right foot onto the center of the box and press yourself to standing. Reverse the movement, stepping carefully off the box behind you. Repeat on the opposite side, stepping up with your left foot first. Continue alternating back and forth for 30 to 50 repetitions on each side. Rest, then repeat two to three more times.

3
Lateral Step Overs

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Lateral step overs. Laura Williams

Work your lower body laterally, engaging your quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abductors, and adductors with the lateral step overs. Stand to the left of the bench, box, or step. Place your right foot firmly on the box, press through your foot and stand up, lifting your left foot onto the box.  Step carefully down on the opposite side, leading with your right foot and following with your left. Be sure to keep your knees and hips slightly bent as you step off the box to help absorb the impact.

Reverse the movement and step back onto the box, this time leading with your left foot. Continue stepping up and over the box continuously for 20 to 30 repetitions per side. Rest and repeat one more set.

4
Box Jumps

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Box jumps. Laura Williams

Box jumps are exactly what they sound like - you're jumping up onto a box. This requires explosive power and strength. If you're new to plyometrics, start with a low box or bench and work your way up.

Stand behind the park bench, your feet hip-distance apart, your knees and hips slightly bent. Swing your arms behind you as you bend your knees and hips further, "loading the spring." In an explosive movement, swing your arms forward as you jump up into the air, landing on the center of the box. Land with your knees and hips slightly bent, your feet about hip-distance apart, then press yourself to standing. Step carefully off the bench, one foot at a time. Perform eight to 15 repetitions. Rest, then repeat one or two more sets.

5
Single Leg Explosions

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Single leg explosions. Laura Williams

Single leg explosions enhance power and strength unilaterally by focusing on one leg at a time.

Stand to the left side and slightly behind the bench. Place the ball of your right foot on the center of the bench. Extend your right arm behind you and bend your left arm at the elbow, bringing your left hand up toward your face. In one powerful movement, swing your right arm forward and your left arm backward as you press firmly through the ball of your right foot, exploding yourself up into the air as you extend your right leg and pull your left knee up toward your chest. Reverse the movement while in the air and land carefully as you started. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions on one side before switching to the opposite leg. Perform two sets.

6
Lateral Box Jumps

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Lateral box jumps. Laura Williams

Work on your power, strength and coordination by performing lateral box jumps. Lateral box jumps are performed exactly like standard box jumps, but instead of jumping forward onto the box, you're jumping sideways onto the box.

Stand to the left of the plyo bench, your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees and hips, swinging your arms backward. Explode up and to the right as you swing your arms forward, aiming to land on the center of the box, your knees and hips slightly bent. Stand up fully, then step down carefully from the box, one foot at a time. Perform eight to 10 lateral jumps on one side of the box before switching sides. Start with one set, then work your way to two.

7
Negatives

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Negatives. Laura Williams

Negatives are actually one of the more advanced plyometric movements because of the high level of impact you're imparting on your body. It's important to have a strong lower body before attempting, and that you know how to appropriately land a jump. Essentially, you must land on the balls of your feet, your feet approximately hip-distance apart, with your knees and hips slightly bent to help absorb the impact before sinking down onto your heels. You want to avoid allowing your knees to cave inward or outward - making sure they track in line with your toes without extending past your toes.

Perform negatives by standing on top of the box or bench. Start on a low curb or step if you've never done them before. Hop forward, off the box, focusing on landing the jump correctly. You don't want to jump up off the box - you're not trying to add more height to the exercise; rather, you're jumping away from the box. Perform eight to 10 repetitions. Rest, then repeat.

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