One of our favorite techniques to up the fat-loss ante is to use plyometric training, or jumping movements. With our clients, we love getting even newbies-to-exercise to give us a little hop! Impact training has been shown to undeniably increase bone density, performance, strength, stability, coordination and most importantly, body composition. It also primes type II (fast twitch) muscle fibers, taxes the anaerobic metabolism, and generates breathlessness and burning (Remember Metabolic Effect’s B’s and H’s?).
So how does jumping get us leaner? The mechanism has to do with hormones. During any type of exercise, certain hormones are released, like cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline (catecholamine). These hormones facilitate sugar release into the blood to allow for fuel for activity. However, when exercising at higher intensities, like 85% of heart rate max or to the point of muscle failure, studies shows that other hormones like human growth hormone (HGH) and testosterone are released into the blood stream also. These hormones along with cortisol and adrenaline have been shown to create a fat burning effect in the body.
One way to significantly increase serum levels of these hormones is to jump. One study published in the Japanese Journal of Physiology (1996) attempted to quantify the hormonal responses during high-impact activity. The study was conducted with 16 Italian professional soccer players. The researchers asked the participants to complete 60-seconds of consecutive vertical jumps to consequently induce complete muscle fatigue. The study recorded blood serum levels of hormones like HGH, testosterone, cortisol and others immediately after the 60-second supramaximal effort. They found significant increases in amounts of cortisol and testosterone released, among others. There was an increase in HGH also. In addition, the most pronounced testosterone release was found in the subjects with the highest vertical jumps and the largest power output.
Since increasing testosterone levels in the blood stream has been shown to prevent loss of fat-free mass (like muscle) and prevent a gain in fat mass as we age, it is beneficial to perform exercises that create this effect, like jumping. It is also beneficial to do jumping activities in a way that consequently induces muscle failure, for even more pronounced effects. Preservation of muscle mass as we age will also prevent a sluggish metabolism since muscle tissue requires energy (caloric) burning for maintenance.
Check out our video (below) with Tara demonstrating some of our favorite jumping movements, and then try adding one or all of our circuits below to your weekly routine to burn fat, lean out the legs and increase functionality: