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Jump Training for Rowers part II


February 3, 2012 by peakcentre

Ed McNeely

Plyometrics are a very high intensity for of training that can quickly lead to overtraining and overuse injuries if the training program is not carefully planned. The proper manipulation of volume, total number of repetitions, and intensity decreases the risks associated with this training method.

Determining Training Intensity

Intensity is a measure of how hard you work, often compared to the maximum amount that you can do, it is a factor in determining the overall stress a training sessions creates. As a power training technique, the speed of movement and power produced in each rep of plyometric training determines whether or not you will get a training adaptation. All repetitions in a plyometric exercise are performed at maximum speed and power, anything less deceases the stretch shortening response and plyometric effect of the movement.

The overall intensity of the workout is determined by the drills and exercises selected. Table 1 ranks the relative intensity of plyometrics by drill type for low to high intensity movements.  While there are several hundred plyometric movements, the classification system will help you to determine what you should do as well as help you create your own.  The intensity level is determined by the initial pre-stretch or counter-movement prior to the actual movement itself.  Intensity is also determined by the degree of difficulty in performing the movement, and the landing.  Lunges would be classified as low intensity because there is little countermovement or pre-stretch required, and the landing is very light. Jumping off a box, landing, then rapidly jumping again would be considered high intensity.  A moderate intensity movement would be performing a vertical jump.  Whether you land on one leg or two, the intensity level is still determined by the initial movement i.e. taking off on one leg is high intensity than taking off on two legs. 

Table 1. Relative Intensity of Various Plyometric Drills and Execises

Drill Type Intensity Example
Hops Low Rope hops, Calf hops, Octagon hops, Pattern hops, Lunges


Double Limb Single Response jump and throws Low-Moderate Vertical jump, Standing long jump, Box jump, Pike Jump, Tuck jump, Overhead toss, Med ball chest pass


Full body Single Response throws Moderate Med ball vertical jump and toss, Med ball backwards toss, Med ball long jump and toss, Shot put, Rotational throws


Double Limb Multiple Response jumps and throws Moderate-High Multiple long jumps, Repeat vertical jumps, Box jump and leap, Speed box jumps, Rope jumps


Single Limb Single Response Jumps and Throws High Single leg vertical jump, Single leg long jump, One arm chest pass


Single Limb Multiple Response Jumps and Throws Very High Repeat Single leg long jumps, Single leg pattern hops



When progressing with your exercises it is important to understand what constitutes a progressive step.  In other words, since it is important to perform all movements at 100% intensity, increasing speed of performance to increase difficulty level doesn’t make sense.  Rather, to progress from medium to high intensity, for example, you would increase the height of the box, which in turn increases the possible pre-stretch. Or you may increase the length of a jump, or the distance and duration of an exercise.  Unfortunately, there are too many exercises to discuss every single movement but a guideline would be that generally the higher and longer the distance covered is and the faster the movement is performed, the higher the intensity level.

Contacts per Session

Plyos are recorded by the number of single foot contacts with the ground.  For example 80 contacts would be 4 sets of 10 reps with a two-legged type movement or a total of 80 steps with walking lunges.  The volumes listed in table 2 represent the total number of contacts per training session, not the number of contacts per exercise. This table assumes that each movement is at 100% effort.  Plyometrics performed at anything less than 100% does not get the benefit associated with rapid elastic force production.  However, new plyo drill should be done at 70%-80% until you are comfortable and confident with the technique of the exercise.


Low Intensity

Med. Intensity

High Intensity














Plyometrics should not be performed more than twice per week unless you are training specifically for a sport that requires rapid change movement.  If you are looking to incorporate them into your current conditioning program, two sessions per week is more than adequate.

Rest Between Sets

Rest and recovery are crucial variables in a plyo program. Rest refers to the time that is taken between each exercise or set. Recovery, discussed in the Periodization chapter refers to the amount of time that is needed before the workout can be repeated.

The amount of rest that is taken depends upon the duration of work and the type of drill or exercise used varying from 0-7 minutes between sets or exercises. Table 3 summarizes the duration of work and rest periods for a variety of work periods. In this table the work period refers to the period of continuous work and may not represent the total time for each set. In the case of single response drill it is common to take 5-10 seconds between reps to reset your body position, this can make the total time for the set quite long even though the continuous work time is very short, usually less than one second.

Table 3. Work and rest periods

Work Time Rest between reps Rest between sets Rest between exercises
< 1s 5-10 s 1-2 minutes None
1-3 seconds None 2-3 minutes None
4-15 seconds None 2-4 minutes None
15-30 seconds None 3-5 minutes 5-10 minutes


Note that the rest periods between sets are not less than 2 minutes unless the work period is very short. It is important  to keep rest periods to this duration rather than trying to work on 30-60 second rest period that are often recommended in popular magazines. Short rest periods will limit the total amount of work that can be done and thereby decrease the effectiveness of the training program.

This is because very short rest periods do not allow a complete recovery of the ATP-CP energy system or time for removal of lactic acid. Plyo drills with sets of fewer than 8 repetitions uses predominantly the ATP-CP energy system. These two compounds, known as the phosphagens, are available for immediate use. The stored supply of these compounds is relatively small, they can provide energy for about 5-15 seconds of all out effort.  Once all the stored energy is used the body requires about 3 minutes to fully replace the phosphagens. While shorter rest periods will make you think that you are working harder in the long run you are only defeating the purpose of plyometric training by producing less power because of artificial fatigue.

Plyometrics can be a good addition to the training program for a rower provided the program is well designed and the individual needs of the athlete are taken into consideration, they aren’t for everyone and shouldn’t be done without a good level of base strength.

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