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Pliometrics vs Plyometrics: What’s the difference

In the western world of fitness and sports performance, the term PLYOMETRICS gets thrown around to describe explosive and ballistic styles of exercises. However, this misuse of the word has led to a misunderstanding of what plyometrics are and what constitutes one.

Initially described by Soviet Track and Field coach and researcher Yuri Veerkhoshansky as “The Shock Method” (1968), Veerkhoshansky, set the foundation for our modern plyometric training.

Now, what is “The Shock Method” then?

First, let us dissect the different stages of this style of exercise.

There are 4 different subcategories:

  1. Pliometric – Note the spelling!
  2. Miometric
  3. Pliometric-miometric
  4. Plyometric

Pliometric exercise is when an eccentric muscle action – when muscles generate force while increasing in length – is applied to the body. This is also the best place to start when learning how to fully utilize the stretch-shortening cycle – the neurological wiring that allows us to increase force production while preloading tissue. Pliometirc exercise can be seen as developing the initial loading of the body. An example is the a depth drop.

Miometric exercise focuses only on the concentric muscle action – muscles creating force when shortening in length. This style of exercise produces much lower force outputs compared to the following styles as there is no use of the stretch-shortening style. A great way to try this out is to squat halfway down, hold it, then try and jump; then compare it to a depth drop to vertical jump. Another simple example is a seated box jump with no counter-movement.

Pliometric-miogenic exercise begins to look more familiar to what many consider to be plyometrics, but with one caveat: it is non-continuous. At this point, we are to combine the eccentric and concentric contractions into one fluid movement. Shot put, javelin throw, throwing a fastball, and the take-off in high-jump are great examples of this in action. One and done is the name of the game for Pliometric-miogenic exercises. An example you can try is a depth drop to a vertical jump or if you added a rocking counter-movement to the sedated box jumps!

Finally, we arrive at Plyometric; now given the pattern you may be able to guess what they truly are now. Plyometrics are repeated bouts of the Pliometric-miogenic regime! Taking the prior example of depth jump to vertical, it would be a depth jump to continuous vertical jumps.

So, in summary, a single “plyometric” is actually Pliometric-miogenic exercise and repeated “plyometrics” are actually plyometrics! Now I hope this wasn’t too much of a Shock for you and that it will propel you to reach greater heights and speeds!


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By: Troy Wilson, BScKinH, MScKin, PKin, Team Canada Athlete and RockTape Ambassador