Plyometrics have been used by track and field athletes since the 1960’s, thanks to the groundbreaking work of Soviet sports trainer and biomechanist Yuri Verkhoshansky. By definition, a plyometric exercise is any exercise that involves a stretch immediately followed by an action. A classic example is the depth jump, developed by Verkhoshansky, in which an athlete jumps from a predetermined height and immediately upon landing, jumps upwards or forward. The shock of the landing requires dynamic strength and the jump afterwards develops the reactive ability of muscles to switch from eccentric to concentric work. This stretch-shortening cycle directly applies to the landing and take-off phases of running, so by incorporating just a few of these explosive moves into your training, you can gain strength and speed.
Get Faster. Research shows us that plyometric training boosts speed (when done right). In one study of well-trained athletes, it was found that by replacing 1/3 of their normal running with plyometrics over a period of 9 weeks, each runner’s 5km race time improved. It’s important to also note, however, that these explosive exercises are tough on the body; some runners only use them when gearing up for a race. We recommend introducing them gradually into your workout regimen (if you’re not already doing them) by including 2 or 3 mini-sessions each week, rather than doing longer sessions less often. Adding just a 5-10 minute routine at the end of your warm-up will give your speed a boost.
Prevent Injury. Your personal need for plyometrics varies according to your running event, training goals and what your body responds to best. Try a range of these exercises and see which ones are most effective for you. If you sense your body is weak, proceed with caution; simple jumping exercises of 20-25 consecutive jumps is enough as a starting point. Plyometrics are excellent for injury prevention because they build strength in your glutes, which reduces strain on your knees and hips. And although many runners we know would rather log in a few more miles than stop early for an intensive round of drills (guilty as charged), being disciplined will literally pay off in the long run. Training smart will get you to the starting line stronger and more prepared than ever. The key is being consistent and maintaining proper form.
It’s Personal. From single leg hops to switch lunges to bounds and beyond — there are many different plyometric drills worth checking out. And while we’re happy to share what combinations work for us, you need to explore these exercises personally to know what works best for you. Be patient and commit yourself to doing a few of them 2-3 times a week; you should begin to notice an improvement in your running in a matter of weeks.
3 Links For A Jump-start:
1/ Six Plyometric Exercises For Runners (see images)
2/ Five Best Plyometrics Exercises For Runners (scroll down to view video footage)
3/ Ten Minute Plyometrics Workout For Runners (scroll down)
To close, here are 2 basic plyometric exercises demonstrated. Happy jumping!
1/ Depth Jump:
2/ Basic Box Jump (or use a small step to start):
* A song to get you in the mood:
“Jump”, by Madonna on her “Confessions on a Dance Floor” album. Aside from its title relating to this article, this song has a powerful and important message. Be fearless and don’t be afraid to let yourself fly. #authenticitywins #nobubblegum
Related & Source articles:
“The Benefits of Plyometric Exercises for Runners”: http://goo.gl/jPwBhk
“Six Plyometric Exercises for Runners”: http://goo.gl/W93THG
“Jump To Make Yourself Stronger And Faster” in Runner’s World: http://goo.gl/CQPKjv