Beginner Plyometric Drills to do at Home with your Dog
Plyometric training is a great way to burn calories and improve athletic performance. As we wrote in Part 1 of this series, the human and canine athlete should have a moderate level of fitness before beginning a plyometric program. Our plyometric preparation drills are a simple way to test for adequate fitness. It is always recommended that you get doctor and vet approval before beginning an intense exercise program.
The beginning movements we will describe in the next few installments of this series are all relatively safe to perform and can be done with minimal equipment and supervision. When possible, perform these movements on ‘soft’ surfaces like grass or mats. We also recommend that you find a sports trainer or physical therapist (human, canine, or both) who can work with you individually to teach some basic techniques, such as proper landing and foot position so that you are able to progress through the exercises safely.
Beginner plyometric drills you can do with your dog
Two of our favorite beginner plyometric exercises, the level ground hop and the medicine ball overhead toss, involve movements that we used to do as kids: hopping and throwing. Even better, both of these drills can be done with your dog at your side.
Level ground hop This drill focuses on the lower body and core, requires no special equipment, and is an easy introduction to plyometric training. Set two cones 10 yards apart. Starting at one cone, drop into a half squat, swing your arms, and jump as far as you can to the second cone. Land on the balls of your feet and with bent knees. Pause, reset and jump again until you reach the cone. Turn around and jump back to the first cone. Repeat 2-3 times in total. Count how many jumps it takes to go from one cone to the next each set. Use these numbers as a way to evaluate your progress. As you get stronger, the number of jumps will decrease.
Progression: after 4-6 weeks, you can increase the intensity by eliminating the reset phase of this drill. Like before, after each jump, land on the balls of your feet but instead of pausing, immediately squat down and jump again until you reach the destination cone.
With your dog: jumping around with your dog is even more fun than doing jumping alone. See of you can get your dog to jump with you by encouraging them to stop and start by your side during the drill. Even if your dog won’t leap, they will likely view this drill as a game, and you can work with them on commands as you jump from cone to cone. Have your dog stay when you jump and then, on command, touch you when you land at your next spot.
Medicine ball overhead toss This drill is an upper body plyometric type of drill that also works the core and lower body as well. It requires a non-bounding medicine ball of a moderate weight (given your fitness level). Set two cones 50 or 100 yards apart. If you don’t have that much space in your yard or if you practice this drill indoors, set your cones as far as possible and move back and forth between the cones until you cover 100 yards in total each set. Grabbing the ball with both hands, flex your knees, bring the ball over your head (like you are doing a triceps extension), and then fling the ball forward while you jump out of the squat. Your feet should slightly leave the ground when you make your throw (unless you are an advanced athlete). The idea is to use your entire body, not just your arms to throw the ball down the field to the opposite cone. Count the number of throws it takes to cover the distance and use that to measure your progress. Do 2-3 sets of 100 yards, resting 2 minutes between sets.
Progression: after 4-6 weeks, choose a heavier ball or increase the distance before resting. Learn to engage your core when making your throw, which should increase the distance of your throws.
With your dog: unless you have a very big dog or a very small medicine ball, your dog will not be able to pick up the ball. But if you treat this like a game, they still might chase the ball as you toss it down the field. If not, use a tennis ball and toss that in between your medicine ball throws and have your dog return to you before you cross the finish line.
Here is a video of Maggie participating in the medicine ball toss. She had fun and we both got some good exercise in.
In the next installment in our plyometric series, we will introduce some more beginner plyometric drills that are effective at building fitness and fun to do with your dog. K9 Kamp Update. We purchased a new set of cones (our old ones were pretty beat up) so that Slimdoggy Jack and Steve can demonstrate their version of “Hide and Seek”. This is going to be fun!
Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below – lots of fun fitness tips and advice!