Plyometrics is the often forgotten ingredient to a good runner, it increases the body’s ability to absorb and use energy whilst running.
First of all, what is plyometrics? if you’ve clicked this article you probably already know, but here’s what the dictionary says..
“A form of exercise that involves rapid and repeated stretching and contracting of the muscles, designed to increase strength and power”
- Increased power and speed
- Increased muscle elasticity
- Increased joint strength
- Increased co-ordination
- Increased Stability
- Decreased chance of injury
How To Start?
Before jumping into big box jumps, depth jumps and complicated moves. you need to lay the foundations.
The first phase of plyometric training takes the muscle through the “stretch-shortening cycle.” These exercises emphasize the eccentric phase of movement.
To picture this, imagine jumping off a box. When you land, your knees bend slightly as the muscle fibers in your legs automatically lengthen and contract to absorb the shock – this is the eccentric phase of the cycle. During this landing process, the muscles store elastic energy like a stretched slingshot.
You need to be ale to control your landing and work on stability before moving on to jumping.
“You Can’t Produce, What You Can’t Absorb”
This means you need to MASTER your balance and basic moves such as ‘hop and holds’, ‘depth drop holds‘ and Switch steps. Do these exercises for 4-6weeks until comfortable, time will depend on prior training conditioning. Also it is important to remember that plyometrics is supplementary plan to be done alongside a regular gym plan.
The focus on the next phase of plyometrics is to build upon our foundation and ability to absorb force, to now apply it in a forward and upward direction as well as adding in rebound movements.
With all jumping exercises, you want to minimize energy-wasting delay between landing and takeoff. Ground contacts should be touch and go.
This will help us to:
- Increased running efficiency (faster)
- Improved endurance and less muscular fatigue
- Improved performance on hills
- Improved stride length – More ‘bounce in stride’
This will include exercises such as; A skip, Pogo jumps and an introduction of depth drop jumps/rebounds.
Please make sure you are ready for this phase, without proper training you will get injured. This phase you want to be as bouncy and as elastic as possible.
Muscle elasticity is the ability to stretch a muscle to reach its full range of movement without restriction. By training plyometrics you are increasing your ability to apply force in the muscle more efficiently without getting injured.
This phase of training is about putting the muscles through a more explosive range of movement, the benefits are;
- Can improve the magnitude and velocity of force production into the ground when running.
- (better co-ordination and muscle recruitment) Muscle force output is not based on the size of the muscle, but on intramuscular coordination, which is the efficiency at which the motor units activate individual fibers within a particular muscle.
- Develop stronger, more resilient connective tissue; specifically tendons, ligaments, fascia and joint capsules, which reduces the risk of injury from sprains or strains and muscle pulls.
Overall the goal of this phase is to make your body is more efficient when running and produce more power on each contact with the ground.
Exercises in this phase include Bounding, high box depth jumps and Hurdle jumps.
Thanks for reading, if you want the full guide with exercise breakdowns. For the price of 1 coffee, you get to ultimate no nonsense guide to plyometrics.
This program is a practical guide on the most effective plyometric strategies to employ if you are a runner looking to:
- If you are wanting to run faster
- If you are wanting to improve muscular strength.
- If you are wanting to build elastic muscles to improve stride length.
- If you want to avoid injuries
- If you want to have PEAK fitness for your runs.