Plyometric Vs. Resistance Training: Which Is Best for Short-Term Results?

To jump, or not to jump, that is the question. If you’re crunched on time for work outs on a daily basis and need to either squat more, or jump higher, then this new research may be able to help guide your goals.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning, researchers compared how a short-term (8-week) training program with either plyometric or strength based workouts influenced lower body musculature (1). 

Objective

The goal of this study was to compare how plyometric training differed from resistance training when the goal was lower body musculature and performance. Researchers note that lower body performance is the summation of both slow and fast musculature contractions (anaerobic & aerobic), so they wanted to see if either programs influenced one of these characteristics more than the other based on their prescribed 8-week timeline.

Subjects

For this study, researchers recruited 30 males and split them into three groups: Plyometric training, resistance training, and a control group. Each group partook in two weekly workouts catered towards the group they were split into.

Each week, the groups came into the gym to partake in either a full plyometric workout involving multiple skipping and jumping variations, or a resistance focused workout that involved movements like the squat, leg press, and lunges. The groups had to allow 48-hours of recovery in-between sessions, but not let 72-hours pass before finishing their second workout.

Plyometric Vs. Resistance Training Study
Plyometric Vs. Resistance Training Study

Testing 

Two assessments were performed over a two day period before and after the 8-week training period. Researchers had each group perform five tests that included a: 20-m sprint, 505 agility test, vertical jump, broad jump, and 1-RM back squat. Also, researchers records subjects body mass and weight before the first day’s assessments. Subjects were instructed to refrain from exercise for 24-hours before the assessments and from caffeine for 4-hours prior (this was cool to see because caffeine could alter explosive training).

Results and Discussion

Researchers found that plyometric training influenced anaerobic training adaptations slightly better than the resistance training group, but both groups did see an improvement in their pre- and post-assessments. For the vertical jump specifically, the plyometric training group saw an increase of roughly 17%, while the resistance group saw about a 6% increase, and this makes sense when you consider the specialization this movement entails, yet both groups did see an overall improvement.

Conversely, the resistance training group saw a slight increase in total lower body musculature, although, the results were pretty similar suggesting that plyometric training (in a micro setting) can do an adequate, if not similar, job at improving lower body strength. For the 1-RM back squat assessment, the plyometric and resistance groups saw roughly a 14-17% increase respectively.

Practical Takeaways

The results of this research were pretty much inline with what most would probably guess, but at the same time there were some key practical takeaways worth noting.

  • Both plyometric and resistance focused workouts can help improve power and 1-RM strength in untrained populations. 
  • Those with a short-term goal could benefit with using one style of training over the other. For example, if your goal is to improve your jump for basketball, then utilizing a more plyometric focused workout could be more beneficial. 
  • If you’re short on time and working towards a specific adaptation, then a hierarchy of these two could be beneficial to improve training efficiency. 

References

1. Whitehead, M., Scheett, T., McGuigan, M., & Martin, A. (2018). A Comparison of the Effects of Short-Term Plyometric and Resistance Training on Lower-Body Muscular Performance. Journal Of Strength And Conditioning Research, 32(10), 2743-2749. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000002083

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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.