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FITNESS | REVIEW

Explosive power for sports and daily life

October 30, 2006

Plyometrics is often overlooked among strength-training programs and cardio workouts. But the explosive movements that incorporate speed and force (jumping, sprinting, punching) are an integral part of many sports -- as well as daily living. "Plyometrics for Athletes at All Levels" (Ulysses Press, 2006), by Neal Pire, not only explains the importance of this type of exercise, but gives detailed instruction on ways to develop an expertise.

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Plyometrics for Athletes at All Levels: The book begins with a detailed explanation of the physiology of plyometrics, the safety issues and the various types of equipment that can be used, including hurdles and cones, medicine balls and stability balls. The training principles stress proper form and the gradual progression from simple tasks to more intense exercises, plus the importance of stretching.

The workout section starts out with a warm-up that includes forward skips, squats and alternating lateral lunges, essential for preparing the body for the specific activity ahead.

Among lower-body exercises are squat jumps and standing lateral jumps; for the upper body there are push-ups on a stability ball and tricep press passes, in which a ball is brought behind the head and thrown with elbows bent. Each exercise is illustrated with sequential photographs and has detailed written instructions, as well as an explanation of how it benefits the body. Plyometric workout programs are given for several individual sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball and tennis.

"Whether we're running to catch the bus or running after a child, whatever we do suddenly, we have to be better prepared for the rigors of day-to-day activity," says Pire, the New Jersey-based director of Parisi Sports Clubs USA, a group of athletic training facilities. Plyometrics, he adds, "is more skill-oriented than working with a weight stack, so you learn a skill, which gives the exerciser more variety. It's another tool in the toolbox and you get added benefits from the workout."

Price: $15.95, available at bookstores.

Jeannine Stein

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