Plyometrics

 

By Rick Morris

 

Strength and power are two terms that are closely related and sometimes confused. Pure strength is your ability to produce force. Your power includes a measure of how quickly you can generate that force. High levels of power are critical for top distance running performance. You can have all the strength of Hercules, but if you can’t quickly and efficiently use that strength to generate  speed and forward motion you won’t reach your peak potential as a distance runner.

 

Power is generated in your running stride when your muscles lengthen in an eccentric contraction during your stance pace and quickly “snap back” into a concentric contraction using their stored elastic energy. Quicker spring back action and more conservation of stored energy in the process transfers more power to your running stride.

 

Plyometrics are a form of training that mimics that same movement pattern and improves your running power. While plyometrics are highly effective they are also advanced exercises that can present an injury risk if not done correctly or if they are performed before your muscles are conditioned with a base of general running strength. Before you jump into plyometrics be sure you have already properly conditioned your muscles with general strength training and always use proper technique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bounding

 

Do this drill on a grass, artificial turf or other soft surface.

Push off explosively with your left leg and drive your right knee up and forward.

Land on your right foot and immediately push off explosively with your right foot, driving your left knee up and forward.

Continue this bounding or exaggerated running stride for about 50 meters.

Emphasize an exaggerated high knee drive as well as maximum distance with each stride.

 

Double Leg Vertical Jump

 

Stand in an upright position with your knees soft and very slightly flexed. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart.

Quickly drop your hips towards the ground and then rapidly explode upward. Swing your arms forcefully upward and reach as high as possible

Keep your toes dorsi-flexed (toes up position) throughout this exercise.

Land on the balls of your dorsi-flexed feet and immediately bounce back upward as far and quickly as possible.

Focus on springing off your dorsi-flexed feet rather than gathering yourself and jumping.

Repeat for about 30 seconds.

 

Double Leg Forward Hops

 

Stand in an upright position with your knees soft and very slightly bent in an athletic stance. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart.

Quickly drop your hips  and rapidly explode forward. Swing your arms forcefully up and forward.

Focus on jumping forward as far as possible.

Keep your feet dorsi-flexed (toes up) throughout this drill.

Land on the balls of your dorsi-flexed feet under your center of gravity and very quickly bounce forward again.

Keeping going for about 30 meters.

Focus on bouncing off your dorsi-flexed feet rather than gathering yourself and jumping.

 

Double Leg Lateral Hops

 

Stand in an upright position with your knees soft and very slightly bent in an athletic stance. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart.

Quickly drop your hips  and rapidly explode upward and to the right.

Keep your feet dorsi-flexed (toes up) throughout this drill.

Land on the balls of your dorsi-flexed feet under your center of gravity and very quickly bounce as far as possible to the left.

Keep repeating this motion for about 30 seconds.

Focus on bouncing off your dorsi-flexed feet rather than gathering yourself and jumping.

 

One Leg Hops in Place

 

Stand facing away from a bench, step or box that is about 12 to 16 inches high.

Place your left foot behind you on the bench. Your right foot should be flat on the ground under your center of gravity with your right knee slightly flexed.

Now begin to hop up and down on your right foot as quickly as possible. Keep your right foot dorsi-flexed (toes up) and focus on bouncing off the ball of your right foot.

Concentrate on very quick and light hops. Don’t try to hop for height. Instead, focus on hopping as quickly as possible.

Keep hopping for about 30 seconds.

Switch legs and repeat.

 

Single Leg Forward Hops

 

Stand in an upright position  on your right foot with your right knee soft and very slightly bent. Hold your left leg up behind you.

Quickly drop your right hip  and rapidly explode forward. Swing your arms forcefully up and forward.

Focus on jumping forward as far as possible.

Keep your feet dorsi-flexed (toes up) throughout this drill.

Land on the balls of your dorsi-flexed right foot under your center of gravity and very quickly bounce forward again.

Keeping going for about 30 meters.

Focus on bouncing off your dorsi-flexed feet rather than gathering yourself and jumping.

Repeat using your left leg as the hopping leg.

 

Double Leg Kangaroo Hops

 

Stand in an upright position with your knees soft and very slightly bent in an athletic stance. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart.

Quickly drop your hips  and rapidly explode forward. Swing your arms forcefully up and forward.

At your apex or the highest point of your jump, cycle both feet under your hips as in a cycling or running motion but keep both feet together.

Focus on jumping forward as far as possible.

Keep your feet dorsi-flexed (toes up) throughout this drill.

Land on the balls of your dorsi-flexed feet under your center of gravity and very quickly spring forward again using the same cycling or rotary motion  with your feet and legs.

Keeping going for about 30 meters.

Focus on springing off your dorsi-flexed feet rather than gathering yourself and jumping.

 

Double Leg Tuck Jumps

 

Stand in an upright position  on your right foot with your right knee soft and very slightly bent. Hold your left leg up behind you.

Quickly drop your right hip and rapidly explode forward. Swing your arms forcefully up and forward.

At the apex or highest point of your jump, pull you knees up toward your chest, grab your knees with your hands and release for your landing.

Keep your feet dorsi-flexed (toes up) throughout this drill.

Land on the balls of your dorsi-flexed feet under your center of gravity and very quickly explode upward again.

Focus on springing off your dorsi-flexed feet rather than gathering yourself and jumping.

Repeat for about 30 seconds.

 

 

 

For more examples of plyometric exercises and complete body weight training programs for distance runners see Bear Naked Strength Training for Distance Runners

 

 

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