top of page

Plyometrics vs. Strength Training: Is There a Difference?

Written By Jayme Pantekoek | Published Nov 7th 2021


Plyometrics have been around since the beginning of well-organized and well-studied athletic performance training, but the differences between plyometrics vs. strength training are still somewhat lost on most athletes.

As an athlete, it’s important that you understand the types of training that exist and how they relate to your body and preparing for your sport.

Specifically when it comes to plyometrics vs. strength training, we should recognize that there is value to both and that these two types of training go hand-in-hand.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how plyometrics got their start, the goals of plyometrics, the goals of strength training, what the differences are between plyometrics vs. strength training, and why it’s beneficial to pair the two.


About Plyometrics

The Russians coined the term “plyometric” which means “strength speed.”

Using this method of training, they were allowing their athletes to boost speed after the athlete had gone through a period of strength training.

Early on, this looked like adding jumping and moving to otherwise static exercises. What they realized in doing so is that strength and speed go hand-in-hand.

The Goal of Plyometrics

The goal of plyometric training is to quickly engage the nervous system to the muscles of the athlete with greater speed. The athlete focuses on contracting muscles at a very rapid rate—like starting a sprint or jumping as high as they can.

You can even break down plyometrics into two different categories as well: true plyometrics and jumping.

True Plyometrics

True plyometrics have a contact time on the ground of fewer than 0.2 seconds. Think about jumping multiple times for a rebound in basketball or sprinting at top speed where the foot barely contacts the ground.

Training true plyometrics requires a high level of strength in order to absorb your moving bodyweight quickly, change direction, and make enough force to propel the athlete’s body back off the ground in under 0.2 seconds.

This is where the “standout” athletes come from—the ability to be strong and fast in combination.


Jumping is any contact time over 0.2 seconds.

Think about dropping off of a really tall box and jumping when hitting the ground. Upon landing, the athlete spends a long time mitigating the shock of landing before they are able to jump back off the ground.

You still train this crash landing as a true plyometric, but you would just have to be strong enough. And to be strong enough to handle these movements, a strong base is required.

Traditional Strength Training

Traditional strength training involves an external load (like weight training), but we can strength train with just bodyweight as well.

The main goal of strength training is to expose muscle tissue to the demand of “work,” so the muscles get used to contracting hard for a longer period of time. We call this putting the muscles “under tension for a duration of time,” also known as time under tension.

This is a big benefit of lifting weights.

Lifting slows down the movement so the nervous system can recognize and “spend time” in each of the angles the body is moving—while also exposing the body to increased tension.

Moving slowly like this is highly beneficial for maximal strength—and getting better at plyometrics. The longer we spend with that muscle or nervous system in that particular plane of motion, the “smarter” the muscles become with that nervous system adaptation.

Plyometrics vs. Strength Training

So the question becomes, what is the difference between strength training and plyometric training?

  • The answer comes down to the speed of the movement.

In order to have the biggest impact on speed, the athlete needs to be able to do two things:

  1. Contract the muscles at a very rapid rate regardless of weight used or force of the falling body weight.

  2. The mechanics or “form” of the movement cannot be compromised or the athlete will not be efficient in the movement.



To have both of these, the athlete needs to both be strong enough to hold form and contract muscles to stabilize the impact of landing. To train this combination, implementing the practices of both traditional strength training and plyometrics into training programs becomes advantageous.

Ultimately, pairing these will make athletes stronger in a way that lets them use their strength quickly and repeatedly.

And that’s how athletes go from good to great.

The position paper also stated that the NSCA "recognizes and supports the premise that many of the benefits associated with adult resistance training programs are attainable by children and adolescents who follow age-specific resistance training guidelines."

Ultimately, there is a plethora of scientific information that has been released in recent years that disproves the assumption that strength training is dangerous for young people, and highlights its numerous health benefits.

0 views0 comments


bottom of page