Thursday, December 2, 2010

Plyos Workout

This summer I ran a plyos workout during the off season, and I'm repeating it again this fall. It's 10AM Saturday, and I follow them with noon league practice. Prepeak is a great time to throw down some doubles. Others in the class follow 7AM Fleetwood speed practice or 8AM league practice with plyos, and a couple of crazies have done the hat trick since you can get to Tsubo from the practice space in less than ten minutes. The two other really good doubles are speed plus Kru boot camp or Kru plus league practice, but you'd have to bend the laws of space and time to do a Kru triple. And also that would be insane, Kru is hard. I have plans for Kru during home season.

I started plyos with the upholdskis mostly because I like to have people to work out with, where "like to" means that I probably wouldn't work out without them. We actually do the little workouts that I developed when I was a rioter, before I had friends and used to be able to work out by myself. So I also teach these to people to theoretically do by themselves in whatever spare twenty minutes here and there. I'll be posting the little workouts in upcoming weeks, sort of with the idea that I've gone through them with you in person. I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to organize photos of everything. So they may not be totally self-explanatory, sorry about that.

My plyos are not so much anymore about hitting that big Whip It jump as putting a spring in your every step, though that's just because of time constraints. I'd do it all if I could. But right now, my plyos workout goes like this:

1. Warm up

I warm up with sun salutations with some easy strength work mixed in: quarter-tricep pushups for core and upper body, good mornings for core and hamstrings, and elevators for core and hip flexors.

2. Check form

There's a certain form that I'm trying to maintain throughout this whole workout, and it goes like this:

* navel pulled to your spine
* tailbone pointed down
* knees and ankles folded

Most skaters of a certain level know that "get low" doesn't mean bending forward at the waist, but getting your butt down by bending your knees and ankles. Now check when you get low that your back isn't arched with your butt sticking out, you want your back flat with your butt tucked under. Navel to spine. Tailbone down. Now get low.

Or do it the other way around: get low, then tuck your tailbone and pull your navel in. Whichever way, you want to set this form in those muscles. Check your navel and tailbone whenever it crosses your mind, whenever you're just standing around.

3. Set jump mechanics

This is the most basic way that you jump:

* remember, navel to spine and tailbone down!
* fold your ankles down
* spring your ankles open, pushing your toes through the floor

I run through different patterns of jump drills on two feet, right foot, left foot, split right, and split left. Foursquares for the basics, sunbursts to practice jumping at all angles, and sigmas to practice laterals and diagonals.

4. Practice jumping with fast feet

Then I do line drills to put jumping in context:

* throughout, navel to spine and tailbone down!
* fast feet forward, jump sideways
* fast feet sideways, jump forward
* fast feet forward, jump forward

Basically, the first two are juking and the forward-forward combo is the apex or inside line jump. But anyway, it's all about launching a jump mid-scramble. We add bodies and blocking as we progress.

5. Hit the deck

Credit where credit's due to upholdski Dame Over, who found this on the internet. Here's how we play:

* deck of cards
* diamonds are pushups, they're the hardest
* hearts are crunches, we love crunches
* spades are squats, you look like you're digging
* clubs are bridges, uh... bridge club!
* jacks are eleven
* queens are twelve
* kings are thirteen
* aces are high
* jokers repeat the last card

Right now we're doing wide arm pushups, russian twists for crunches, regular bodyweight squats, and one-legged bridges, plus we pass around a couple of kettlebells for some fun kettlebell roulette.

You get that I want your navel to your spine all the time, right? When you're doing pushups, when you're doing crunches, when you're doing bridges; but especially when you're doing squats, work that navel to spine and tailbone down and get low in that good form. If you're used to getting low with your back arched, you probably won't be able to get as low with your butt tucked and this is where you get that back.

All this business about navel to spine and tailbone down is about getting your core, of course, and your glutes and hamstrings, not just your quads, to do their part. You need to get your glutes and hamstrings involved for top power and stability, and for injury prevention.

6. Stretch

I'm a huge believer in stretching not as a nice form of relaxation, but as the necessary last step to maximize the benefits of all your hard strength work. If your trainer doesn't set aside time for stretching at the end of your workout, stretch before you go to bed or stretch after you get out of bed.