Any professional sportsperson intends to defeat or to improve on their opponent’s time or effort over a specified objective. In most sports, the ability to jump higher or further, to run faster, or to hit an object at a greater distance, will provide you with the competitive advantage to beat or better your opponent.
Each person is born with a distinct amount of fast-twitch muscle fibres and this genetic biological makeup, predetermine how high an athlete will be able to jump and how fast an athlete will be able to run. Therefore, genetics plays as big a role in talent identification, then the skills and aptitude required for competing at the highest level.
Unfortunately, modern-day humans have become ‘lazy’, not in terms of gym work or sports conditioning, but in the fact that there is rarely the need to use fast-twitch muscle fibres outside of their respective sporting codes.
This is where the ‘use it, or lose it principle’ in sport play a significant role in athletes not performing at their optimal best. If we don’t regularly use our type 2A (fast-twitch) muscle fibres, these muscle fibres convert into type 2B (slow-twitch) muscle fibres. Type 2B muscle fibres are essential for everyday movement patterns associated with endurance and strength activities, whereas type 2A muscle fibres are associated with power and explosive activities.
The scientific formula for power is P (power) = S (strength) x A (acceleration) and we frequently neglect to exercise the muscle fibres associated with ‘acceleration’, which results in a ‘strong’ athlete with many type 2B muscle fibres, but who lacks type 2A muscle fibres, which is essential in the equation to generate ‘power’. Therefore, specialised gym programs which involve specific power and plyometric training methods, where the workload is at 100% of the athlete’s capacity, with long rest periods where the creatine phosphate can fully replenish, are essential for any high-performance conditioning program.
Some of the benefits and objectives of power and plyometric training are listed below:
1. Strengthens the fast-twitch fibres in the muscles
2. Increases the strength of tendons, which means fewer injuries
3. Boosts the efficiency of the neuromuscular system
4. Develops your proprioception required for explosive exercises and sport-related movement patterns
5. Improves endurance as plyometric training significantly reduce lower leg stiffness