Jumping isn’t only for basketball players. The right explosive exercises can help make your next run feel lighter and faster than ever. Most runners think about speed work, hills, and strength training to improve their run times, but often overlook adding power. Adding plyometrics- explosive, energy-honing exercises- to your training can make your usual miles feel like you’ve switched to warp-speed mode. Plyometrics help convert strength into speed and explosive power.
What is it?
“Plyometrics involve a fast, high-intensity, involuntary eccentric contraction of the muscles and tendons, followed by an immediate, powerful concentric contraction,” Adam Rosante, strength and performance coach and founder of the Montauk Barbell Club. There are a lot of exercises that may look plyometric (i.e. box jumps, squat jumps, jumping lunges) but don’t fit the true definition. In order for it to be considered plyo, it has to be executed in less than two-tenths of a second. This is the amount of time in which your body can experience the shock that elicits the involuntary stretch, and use the accumulated energy for the returned action. The key to doing this well is a small number of good reps.
Slash seconds off your time
Studies show that just a month of performing traditional, resistance, or assisted plyo programs two to three times a week cuts seconds off sprint and agility times. They also show an increase in running economy and performance. But the right exercises are needed in order for this to be effective. When incorporating plyometrics into your workout routine, be sure to do them at the beginning of a strength-training day, before a run, or on it’s own for a quick power session. Then give yourself a 2 to 3 days break from plyos. Try this routine (do 3 sets of each exercise):
- Depth jumps. Stand on a raised platform, such as a box or bench, toes on the edge. Step out and drop straight down (don’t jump). When you land, immediately jump straight up. Land softly. Do 6 to 8 reps.
- Hurdle hops. Set up four to six 10 to 12 inch hurdles in a straight line, one in front of the other. Leave about 3 feet of space between each. Lower into a quarter-squat and explosively jump over each hurdle, making minimal contact with the ground and moving as fast as possible. Do 4 to 6 reps. To increase difficulty, move the hurdles either closer together or further apart. Change is up by not putting them in a straight line and incorporating lateral hops as well.
- Depth jump into med-ball throw. Stand at the edge of a raised platform, holding a medicine ball with an underhand grip. Step off the platform and drop straight down. As soon as your feet hit the floor, jump up and throw the ball as high and far behind you as possible. Do 6 to 8 reps. Try not to throw the ball at anyone nearby.
- Ankle jumps. Stand tall with both feet together. Bend knees slightly and jump straight up. While in the air, pull your toes toward your shins, emphasizing flexion at the ankle joint. You won’t jump very high, due to limited knee involvement. Do 6 to 8 reps.
- Running leaps. From standing, take a few approach steps, keeping your body as low as possible, then leap off your left leg. Land on right leg and immediately push off again as quickly as possible (it should look like an exaggerated running form). That’s 1 rep. Do 6 to 8 reps.
Do you incorporate plyometrics in your workouts?