When was the last time you played hopscotch or did double-dutch while reciting intricate poetry? Eeeeexactly!!! As we get older, we don’t engage in as much play, sports, or ballistic activities in general. All those movements you used to perform as a kid requiring elasticity in your muscles sadly adhere to the old adage of “Use it or lose it.” A diminished capacity for our tissues to rebound energy can lead to greater risk of soft-tissue damage, falls, and losing dance-battles. We can’t have that. Here’s some tips on how to restore some of your ballistic capacity.
Don’t start with hundreds of box jumps trying to rebound off of the ground. Most of your ability to return stored energy comes from your tendons and ligaments and as they do not have great blood supply, they are slower to recover and slower to build resiliency. Ease into more explosive work and keep the volume modest.
Start with bilateral movements.
Whether it be upper or lower body, be sure to use both hands or feet to begin. If you haven’t been doing clap pushups, don’t start with single arm ballistic pushups. That’s just a recipe for a new face.
Utilize in an active warmup.
Use ballistic movements in your warmup after getting the blood flowing with other movements. This is a convenient way to upregulate the nervous system, better prepare connective tissues for your workout AND sneak in the ballistic work you need.
Here is a low-level ballistic circuit to incorporate into a warmup. Be sure to stay conservative and take your own personal injury history and needs into account.
After warming up with steady state cardio and other movement preparation, perform 3-5 rounds of:
20 jump rope jumps on two feet (if the rope is a hassle, just jump in place)
20 ski jumps, using two feet to bounce laterally back and forth
20 explosive pushups off wall (be sure not to lower too far down and keep hands outstretched to find the wall easily and safely)
Tease in more reps, rounds or other exercises as you progress. Keep teasing in light work for this ballistic capacity so future you can reap the benefits!