Getting Fitter Faster

Explosive jumping moves (aka plyometrics, like burpees, speed-skater lunges, and box jumps) recruit a ton of muscles at once and get your heart rate up quickly, making them some of the most efficient exercises around. But how you structure your sets is important, finds new research.

Doing four (or even fewer) reps of a move, resting for 30 to 45 seconds, then going again, do more for your body than doing 10 to 15 jumps in a row.

Researchers are calling these low-rep, high-set schemes “cluster sets,” and according to a study published recently in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, they help you maintain your power, speed, and jump height throughout the entire workout.

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“Performing fewer than five reps allows you to maximize power in every jump, which is what makes this type of explosive training so effective,” says Lee E. Brown, Ed.D., study coauthor and professor at California State University, Fullerton.

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