Can I just say how excited I am about plyometrics? It’s like the secret ingredient that takes your training to a whole new level. Trust me, once you experience the benefits, you’ll be hooked. So, let’s dive right into the world of plyometric training, shall we?
I first stumbled upon plyometrics a few years back when I embarked on a P90X program. Little did I know that this discovery would change my entire fitness game. Since then, I’ve made it a non-negotiable part of my workout routine. And let me tell you, the results have been incredible.
But enough about me, let’s talk about YOU. If you’re wondering how to get started with plyometrics, you’ve come to the right place. This article is your ultimate guide to all things plyometric. By the time you finish reading, you’ll not only have a solid understanding of what plyometric training is, but you’ll also have a killer plyo routine in your arsenal.
So, what can you expect from this adventure? Well, we’ll cover everything from the basics of plyometric training to its three fascinating phases. We’ll delve into the specific benefits that plyometrics can bring to your running game. And of course, we’ll discuss the nitty-gritty details like proper form, warming up, and when to add plyometric workouts to your training schedule.
But wait, there’s more! I’ve even prepared a fantastic plyometric routine tailored specifically for runners like you. It’s like a treasure trove of explosive exercises that will have you leaping and bounding with joy.
Now, here’s the deal. If you’re not really into the theory behind plyometrics and just want to jump straight into the training routine, no problemo! Just skip ahead and get ready to sweat it out. We won’t judge.
Other than that are you ready? Let’s get started.
What is Plyometrics For Runners
Unlike traditional weight lifting, which can sometimes feel like a slow dance with gravity, plyometrics is all about explosive power and lightning-fast movements.
So, what’s the secret behind plyometric exercises? It’s a little something called the “stretch-shortening cycle” or SSC for short. It’s like the turbo boost button for your muscles.
During plyo training, your muscles go through a unique process. First, they lengthen as they absorb energy during an eccentric contraction, and then they rapidly transition to a concentric contraction, releasing that stored energy like a coiled spring.
Okay, I know that might sound a bit technical, but bear with me.
Let’s break it down. Plyometric exercises are all about speed, power, and intensity. I’m talking about movements that make your heart race and your muscles ignite. Picture yourself skipping with joy, exploding off a box like a superhero, or springing into the air with gravity-defying lunges.
And who can resist the thrill of squat jumps, where you launch yourself into the sky with explosive force? Add some clap press-ups and single-leg jumps to the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for pure plyometric awesomeness.
The whole point of plyometric training is to maximize muscle contractions in the blink of an eye. It’s about tapping into your body’s power reserves and unlocking the full potential of your muscles. By training your muscles to fire rapidly, you’ll boost your overall power output and become a force to be reckoned with.
But wait, there’s more. Plyometrics isn’t just about being explosive—it also improves your agility, speed, and athletic performance.
The 3 Phases Of A Plyometric Exercises
Picture yourself in the midst of a plyometric workout. Your muscles are primed, ready to unleash their explosive power. As you jump, leap, and bound through the air, you’re tapping into the magic of the three-phase plyo movement.
First up, we have the eccentric phase, or as I like to call it, the “loading phase.” This is where your muscles rapidly lengthen, like a slingshot being pulled back, loading up with potential energy. It’s all about that pre-load of the agonist muscle group, getting ready to unleash a burst of power.
Next comes the amortization phase, also known as the “dynamic stabilization” phase. Think of it as a quick moment of rest, but not too long. You don’t want to waste that stored energy.
And now, my friend, we arrive at the grand finale—the concentric phase, or the “take-off phase.” This is where the real magic happens. With explosive force, your muscles contract, shortening in a fraction of a second. It’s like a rocket launching into the sky, using every ounce of stored energy to propel you forward, higher, and faster.
But here’s the key: you’ve got to keep the cycle going, like a well-oiled machine. Repeat these three phases as fast as possible, maintaining good form with each explosive movement. The goal is to minimize the time between the eccentric and concentric phases, maximizing your power output.
The Benefits of Plyometrics Training
So you’re still on the fence about the benefits of plyometrics for runners? Well, let me present you with some compelling research that might just sway your opinion.
Let’s dive into Study I, a game-changer published in the prestigious Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In this study, researchers discovered that runners who incorporated a 6-week plyometric training routine into their regimen experienced a jaw-dropping improvement of approximately 4 percent in their 2400m race times. That’s no small feat!
The secret behind this performance boost lies in the enhanced lower body power and explosiveness that plyometrics bring to the table. It’s like adding a turbocharger to your running engine, propelling you to new levels of speed and efficiency.
Study II, conducted at the University of Montreal, uncovered an intriguing finding: plyometric training actually outperforms weightlifting when it comes to improving running economy.
In this 8-week study, participants who engaged in plyometrics witnessed a greater enhancement in their running economy compared to those who solely focused on lifting weights. Imagine that! Plyometrics not only make you faster but also help you become more efficient in your movement, making each stride count towards a smoother and more economical run.
Still not convinced? Well, you have the power to do your own research. Grab your favorite search engine and delve into the world of plyometrics.
Explore the studies, articles, and firsthand accounts that highlight the transformative impact of this training method on runners just like you. You’ll uncover a treasure trove of evidence that supports the notion that plyometrics can take your running game to new heights.
Basic Plyo Gear
Keep in mind that you’ll need a few equipment to get the most out of plyometric training.
When it comes to plyometric training, having the right gear can make all the difference. Let’s take a look at some of the essential equipment you’ll need to maximize your plyo game.
First up, we have the star of the show—the box set, also known as the trusty plyo box. This versatile piece of equipment comes in various platforms of different widths and heights, offering you a range of options to level up your plyometric exercises.
When selecting your plyo box, make sure to choose one with a top and bottom surface that provides enough friction to prevent any unwanted slipping. Safety should always be a priority, so opt for a box with a sturdy steel frame that can absorb some of the impact, reducing the risk of injury. And remember, always keep your plyo box on a level surface to avoid any unexpected accidents.
Master The Basics First
Plyometric training is no joke—it’s high-intensity and can put you at risk of injury if you’re not properly prepared. So, start by honing your skills in fundamental movements such as push-ups, planks, squats, and lunges.
These four exercises lay the foundation for most plyometric moves and will help you build strength and technique. Once you feel confident in these key movements, you can gradually progress to more challenging exercises like jumping burpees or hand-clap push-ups. But before you jump into those, let’s go through the checklist:
- Firstly, make sure you’re landing correctly from your jumps. Land on the forefoot, keeping your knees tracking over your toes, and distribute the weight evenly throughout your legs. This ensures a safe and stable landing that minimizes the risk of injury.
- Secondly, it’s crucial to have a solid foundation of basic strength and endurance. Plyometrics require power and stamina, so make sure you’ve built up the necessary strength to handle the demands of these explosive movements.
- Thirdly, focus on developing proper core strength and stability. Your core acts as a powerhouse, providing stability and control during plyometric exercises. Strengthening your core will enhance your performance and reduce the risk of injury.
- Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, ensure that you’re injury-free before diving into intense plyometric training. If you’re nursing any lingering injuries or discomfort, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional to address those issues before engaging in high-impact exercises.
When to Add a Plyometric Workout For Runners
So, when should you add a plyometric workout to your routine? The answer lies in having a solid foundation of cardio and strength. Aim to reach a point where you can comfortably run for half an hour without gasping for breath.
Additionally, ensure that you’ve completed at least eight weeks of bodyweight training, where you’ve built strength and mastered the foundational exercises. Once these milestones are met, you’re ready to introduce plyometric training into the mix.
How to Get Started With Plyometric Exercises
If this is your first foray into the world of plyo, it’s important to start with lower-impact moves and gradually increase both intensity and volume over time.
To begin, devote no more than 5 to 10 minutes for your plyometric circuit, once a week, for the initial couple of months. This cautious approach allows your body to adapt and minimize the risk of injury. It’s also a great idea to incorporate plyometric movements into exercises you’re already familiar with and can perform safely.
For example, if you’re comfortable with lunges, add a jump to the top of the movement, elevating your explosive power. If push-ups are a breeze for you, try incorporating plyo push-ups—adding a jump at the end of each rep.
Remember, form matters! Whether you’re grounded or airborne, maintaining proper form is crucial. Focus on executing each movement with precision and control.
Ready for some beginner-friendly bodyweight plyo exercises? Here are a few to get you started:
- Burpees: A full-body exercise that combines a squat, plank, and jump. It’s a challenging but rewarding movement to ignite your plyometric journey.
- Jump tucks: Explosively jump up, bringing your knees towards your chest mid-air. It’s like spring-loaded power unleashed.
- Jump squats: Begin with a squat and then explode upward, propelling yourself off the ground. It’s a fantastic way to engage your lower body and improve your vertical leap.
- Split lunges: Perform lunges with a twist by incorporating a jump-switch in mid-air. This dynamic movement works your lower body muscles in a whole new way.
Start with three sets of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise, gradually increasing the number of repetitions and sets as you gain strength and confidence. Listen to your body, take rest days as needed, and don’t be afraid to modify the exercises to suit your current fitness level.
Take Enough Rest
Let’s face it, plyometrics can be demanding on your muscles, bones, joints, and tendons. It’s like putting your body through an intense obstacle course that requires time to recuperate and rebuild.
As a beginner, it’s important to space out your plyometric workouts with ample rest days in between. Aim for a minimum of two to three days of rest, or even more if you feel the need. Trust me, neglecting recovery is a recipe for regret. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way myself.
Imagine your body as a finely tuned machine, and each plyo session as a rigorous test of its capabilities. Just like any machine, it needs time to cool down, recharge, and repair. By giving yourself sufficient rest, you allow your muscles to recover, your bones to strengthen, your joints to regain their flexibility, and your tendons to rebuild their resilience.
So, here’s a practical tip: if you’re already running three times a week, try incorporating one plyometric session into your routine, and reserve the remaining days for total body strength and core training. This way, you’re striking a balance between explosive power development and overall strength enhancement.
When I first started my plyo journey, I vividly remember feeling the soreness that lingered for days after each workout. It was a clear sign that my body needed ample time to adapt and adjust to this new form of training. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay! Everyone’s body responds differently, and it’s important to listen to yours.
In fact, during the initial months of my plyo training, I stuck to just one workout per week. I followed the plyometric DVD workout from P90X, and let me tell you, even with just that one session, I still experienced significant soreness. It was a clear indicator that my body required ample time to adapt, recover, and grow stronger.
Proper Plyometrics Form & Technique
Proper form and technique are the keys to unlocking the full potential of plyometric training. Just like a finely tuned instrument played with precision, executing plyometrics with correct form maximizes efficiency and minimizes the risk of injury. That’s why I’m here to provide you with not only practical tips but also the crème de la crème of video tutorials from the vast realm of YouTube.
So, let’s dive into the essential elements of proper plyometric form that deserve your attention:
- Keep your knees behind the toes throughout the movement. This ensures proper alignment and prevents excessive stress on the knees. Think of it as keeping your knees in the passenger seat while your toes take the wheel.
- Engage your core and maintain a flat back. Your core is like a steadfast anchor that stabilizes your entire body during explosive movements. Picture your core as the rock-solid foundation upon which your plyometric prowess is built.
- To generate explosive jumping power, sink deep into your heels before launching yourself into the air. Imagine loading up a coiled spring, ready to unleash a burst of energy. As you land, smoothly absorb the impact by sinking back into the movement, utilizing your muscles like shock absorbers.
- Avoid compensating or cheating your way through a jump. Plyometrics is all about quality over quantity. Don’t sacrifice proper form just to achieve greater height or distance. Focus on executing each movement with precision and control.
- Rather than striking the floor with the sole of your foot, aim to land and push off using the balls of your feet. This not only enhances your ability to absorb shock but also optimizes the transfer of energy, propelling you forward like a coiled spring released at just the right moment.
- Embrace the art of landing softly. Imagine you’re a stealthy ninja, gracefully touching the ground without making a sound. The quieter your landing, the better. This not only protects your joints from unnecessary stress but also showcases your finesse and control.
Now, with these guidelines in mind, it’s time to dive into the wonderful world of video tutorials. I’ve scoured the depths of YouTube to bring you the best-of-the-best resources that will visually guide you through proper plyometric form and technique.
These tutorials will help you refine your movements, fine-tune your execution, and take your plyometric game to new heights.
Warming up For A Plyometric Workout
Before you ignite your explosive power and dive into the thrilling world of plyometric workouts, it’s crucial to lay the groundwork with a proper warm-up.
Think of it as priming the engine of a sports car, revving it up to unleash its full potential on the open road.
So, let’s rev up that engine and prepare your body for the exhilarating journey ahead!
To kickstart your warm-up, we’ll begin with a burst of dynamic jogging on the spot. This not only elevates your heart rate but also raises your core temperature, signaling to your body that it’s time to shift into high gear.
Once you’ve got your blood pumping and your body buzzing with anticipation, it’s time to delve into some dynamic stretching. But hold on a second, we’re not talking about the sleepy, static stretches of yesteryear. We’re diving into the realm of dynamic stretches that take your muscles on a captivating journey from your head all the way down to your ankles.
As you stretch dynamically, envision your body as a well-oiled machine, gracefully moving through a full range of motion. Embrace the fluidity of your movements as you release any tension lurking within your muscles. It’s like unlocking the hidden potential within, allowing your body to unleash its true power and agility.
Now, it’s important to note that certain plyometric exercises may require specific equipment to ensure your safety and maximize your performance.
One essential piece of gear is a trusty plyo box, a versatile platform designed to withstand the impact of your explosive jumps. Look for a plyo box with a solid steel frame, providing a sturdy foundation to absorb the forces you unleash.
And don’t forget about a well-padded mat that acts as a cushioning buffer, protecting your joints and providing a comfortable surface to perform your plyometric feats.
Top 7 Plyometrics For Runners
I recommend performing these exercises twice a week after a solid dynamic warmup.
Do this routine on your non-running days, since explosive training requires so much focused energy and effort.
Perform each exercise for 8 to 12 reps each.
Rest and repeat one more time before moving on to the rest of the routine.
To keep things challenging, change up the order of the exercises each time you do this plyometric workout.
1. Jump squats
This move also works the quads, hamstring, calves, and most core muscles.
Bonus benefit, shaping your butt.
Start with your feet turned out slightly, toes pointing forward, arms extended and back straight.
squat down until your butt is just lower than your knees, then press up through the heels jumping off the ground as high as possible, then land softly without letting your knees fall in toward each other, then descend into the next squat.
Do 12 to 15 reps to complete one set.
Aim for two to three sets.
The burpee is a total body conditioning exercise per excellence.
This is one of the best exercises for the core muscles, thighs, shoulder, arms, and chest—and if you only have 5 minutes of free time for plyo training, then do the burpees, please.
Assume a feet hip-width apart stance, then bend your knees and place your hands on the floor.
transfer all of your weight into your hands, jump your feet back so that you end up in a push-up position.
Then, bring your knees to your chest, assuming a low squat position, and press up and jump as high as you can with hands overhead, feet going airborne.
Clap your hands overhead or even straighten your legs like air split for more challenge
Without delay, hit the ground again to perform the next burpee.
3. Jumping lunge
This is one of the most running-specific exercises you can do since jumping lunges target all of your running muscles in the most efficient and explosive way.
Begin in a lunge position, weight distributed equally on both legs
Next, jump straight up into the air as high as possible, reversing the position of the legs and landing with your feet in the opposite positions, then immediately lower down into a deep lunge.
Make sure to land with a good lunge from—knees behind or in line with the toes—and to use your arms to help you jump higher.
Do three sets of 12 to 16 reps, alternating sides on each jump.
4. Side hops
One of the best plyometrics for runners that works all of your lower body muscles, including your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads—all key muscles for running and most athletic activities.
Start by standing on your right foot with your right knee slightly bent and your left foot up.
Next, begin hopping on the right foot as fast as you can with minimal ground contact.
Imagine that you are jumping over a set of hot coals.
Hop in one place 12 times, then hop side to side for 12 times then hop forward and backward for another 12 times.
Aim for two to three sets on each foot.
Make sure to keep your hips steady and nearly motionless through the exercise.
Avoid bouncing around.
5. Single-Leg Lateral Jumps
Along with increasing power in the legs, this plyo move also improves balance.
Plus, this plyo moves boosts ankle strength and stability as well as control and proprioception, which is your own sense of the relative position of your body and strength of effort being employed in each movement.
For those who have ankle instability, you may use an ankle brace.
Choose the breathable one.
Stand on your right foot with your left knee slightly bent and left foot off the ground.
Then, drop into a half squat and jump diagonally as high as you can to your left, landing in a half squat on your left foot.
Repeat, jumping diagonally while engaging the whole core to your right.
That’s one rep.
if this is too easy for you, then do it with eye closed.
Aim for three sets with 10 reps each.
6. Box Jumps
These build explosive speed, rev up your body’s ability to absorb force, and they target the muscles that contract the most when running, the hamstrings and glutes.
Pick a jumping box of challenging height or stack aerobics steps 6 to 14 inches high.
From the ground, squat down and jump with both feet onto the box, swinging your arms forward to generate enough momentum.
Next, jump backward off the box, and land softly on the ground with knees slightly bent.
For more challenge, try with one leg.
Don’t try this without a steady posture and a nice balance.
Do 12 reps aiming to complete three sets.
7. Bleacher hops
Another powerful exercise to add to your arsenal.
This one works you on all levels.
It’s also a great cardiovascular and endurance exercise—just like hill sprint on steroids.
Find a set of steps—whether at the nearby park or at your local high school stadium, stadium or even a building with a large flight of stairs—then with feet shoulder-width apart, hop up the steps with both feet together and as fast as you can with no breaks until you reach the top.
Don’t rely on your flexibility, use your momentum.
Next, walk back down and repeat.
Exercises For An explosive Plyometric Workout For Runners
Dumbbell Squat Jumps
Begin by grabbing a pair of dumbbells and holding them so that your palms are facing the midline of your body while your feet are hip-width apart.
Keeping your chest raised and your spine long, lower your butt down to a full squat position, then explosively press your feet into the ground and jump as high as you can.
Land softly with knees bent, then immediately squat down and jump again.
Medicine Ball Slam
Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart and the medicine ball held directly overhead or tucked behind your head.
Reach back as far as you can, then explosively swing your arms downward to slam the ball to the floor in front of you as hard as you can.
Squat down, pick up the ball, and repeat as fast as you can without losing form.
Begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart.
Lower slightly into a squat by bending your knees and hips, then jump forward and land softly in an athletic position facing the opposite direction (that’s your 180 degrees).
Immediately explode upward and turn 180 degrees in the opposite direction so that you’ve returned to your starting position.
For this exercise, you can use a bench, box, or a chair if that’s all you have.
Begin by standing in front of a bench with feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips or by your sides.
Perform 30 to 40 taps.
Begin in plank position, body in a straight line from head to heels and feet together.
While activating your core, thigh, and gluteal muscles, jump your feet toward the outer side of the right arm (keeping the feet together), hop back to the starting position, then jump the feet into the left side.
Continue jumping in and out from side to side as fast as possible for one full minute to complete one set.
Lateral Plyo Jumps
To improve your agility and explosive power, do the lateral plyometric jumps (and other plyometric exercises such box jumps, jump knee tucks, lateral leapfrog squats, and hurdle jumps)
Start with a short box or a step next to you that you can clear in one lateral jump.
Dip into a squat position as low as you can and quickly explode upward and sideways to the left over the box and land gently on both feet.
Immediately squat down and push upward and back to the starting position.
Weighted Box Jumps
Stand in front of a sturdy jump box or a weight bench while holding a dumbbell in each hand by the sides.
lower into a quarter squat, then jump off with both feet and land softly with bent knees on top of the box, then come to a standing position.
Last up, step down slowly, and jump back again as fast as possible while keeping good form.
Begin by assuming a regular pushup position on a well-padded mat or carpet, arms fully extended, hands around shoulder width and body in a straight line from head to toe.
Set up in the standard push-up position on a well-padded carpet or exercise mat, perform a push-up, but explode off the ground enough for their hands to come off the floor and clap midair.
Next, lower the chest to the ground, push up explosively with enough force for the hands to come off the floor and catch some air, then land softly.
Once you hit the floor, have them go immediately into the next push-up, exploding up again as hard as possible.
Stand tall, feet hip-width apart, then squat down while keeping your back upright, head u.
Then jump into the air, raising your knees as high as possible.
Aim for 10-12 reps to complete one rep.
Alternating Split Lunges
Assume a split lunge position with the right foot forward, and the left knee is almost touching the ground.
While keeping the shoulders pulled back and back flat, jump as high as possible, scissoring the legs mid-air, and landing in a lunge with the left leg forward.
Then, explode back up and switch feet position, ending up with the right leg forward again.
Continue by alternating legs as fast as possible with good form.
Begin by standing on the left foot with the left knee slightly bent or micro bent and right foot an inch or two off the ground.
Next, jump off the left leg and move laterally to the right.
Land on the right foot and bring the left foot behind the right, pause for a moment, and then immediately hop back off to the left, landing on the left foot.
That’s one rep.
Do 12 to 16 reps to complete one set.
Plyometrics for Runners – The Conclusion
There you have it.
Now not only you know what plyometrics training is all about but also have a plyometric workout you can start doing right away.
That’s pretty cool.
Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.
In the meantime thank you for reading my post.
Keep running strong.