Coaches often include a combination of progressive plyometric training and resistance training into strength and conditioning programs for their athletes. Plyometric exercises are typically performed immediately following the warm-up and before strength training exercises. Alternatively, plyometrics are sometimes performed on the practice field, separate from strength training workouts. However, time constraints and limited availability to strength training equipment make it difficult for many teams to perform resistance training workouts. With the goal of enhancing athletic performance variables, it would be useful for coaches to know if coaches can still achieve desired training effects from plyometric exercises in the absence of resistance training.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the effects of progressive plyometric training and progressive resistance training on strength and performance markers. A sample of thirty healthy males, approximately 21 years of age were divided into a plyometric group (n=10) a resistance training group (n=10) and a control group (n=10). The training groups performed workouts twice per week for eight weeks with 72 hours between sessions while the control group abstained from exercise. The plyometric exercises included various hops, jumps, bounds and skips in various planes. The resistance training program involved squats, leg press, leg extensions, leg curls and calf raises. Intensity progressed from 70% to 80% of 1 RM while number of repetitions progressively decreased from 3 sets of 12 to 3 sets of 8. Before and after the training interventions, all subjects were tested for 1 RM back squat, vertical jump, broad jump, 20 m sprint and 505 agility.
The results showed that the plyometric group demonstrated significant improvements in broad jump, vertical jump and 1 RM back squat compared to the control group. The improvement in vertical jump observed in the plyometric group was also significantly greater than the improvement observed in the resistance training group. The only significant improvement observed in the resistance training group was for 1 RM back squat compared to control. No groups significantly improved sprint or agility performance. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of plyometric training for improving lower body explosive strength while also improving lower body maximal strength. It would appear that more specific training would be needed to improve speed and agility performance.
Whitehead, M. T., Scheett, T. P., McGuigan, M. R., & Martin, A. V. (2017). A Comparison of the Effects of Short-Term Plyometric and Resistance Training on Lower Body Muscular Performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.