In our last blog IS TRAINING WITH WEIGHTS GOOD FOR RUNNING? – YOU DECIDE! we looked at the effects of training with weights and the impact if can have on running performance.
This week we want to take a step further and look at a specific type of strength training which is often underutilised by most runners – Plyometrics.
Since the 1970’s plyometrics, in their many different forms, have been the domain of sprinters and other power/explosive athletes. It was often deemed as unnecessary and even dangerous to undertake for distance runners, whether recreational or competitive.
But the research, and practical experience, are now telling us differently.
WHAT IS PLYOMETICS?
Plyometrics is an intense form of exercise. It is designed to increase strength in athletes through fast, repeated strengthening/contracting of the muscles. In its simplest form plyometics is jumping.
WHY USE PLYOMETRICS?
In short plyometric exercise, when combined appropriately with running training will improve performance levels resulting in improved times.
Plyometric training will:
- Improve running economy
- Improve muscle recruitment
- Reduce time required for training
- Potentially reduce the mileage you are required to complete
HOW TO USE PLYOMETRICS?
It’s always best to have a base level of strength and fitness before starting plyometric exercise. The ability to bodyweight squat (Air Squat) will be you have a degree of body control required.
It is very important :
- NOT to go too hard too fast
- NOT to perform too many reps (ground contacts) in each session/week
- NOT to performance plyometric exercise on hard surfaces eg concrete
- To progress gradually based on the way your body is responding at ground contact
- To integrate your plyometrics into a properly periodised program
- To listen to your body and its responses
WHAT SORT OF EXERCISES COULD I INCLUDE?
The following exercises are a selection from which you could choose. It is important to consider your phase of training, previous strength training experience and your stability/mobility limitations.
After a thorough warm up choose some of these:
- Squat Jumps – place hands on hips. Drop down into a ½ Squat position, hold momentarily then explode upwards, jumping as high as you can. As you land be sure to absorb the impact of the ground, controlling your landing. Reset and repeat. Do 2-3 sets of 4-8 jumps. A variation on this may be do the jumps in each set continuously rather than resetting after each jump.
- High Skips – do an exaggerated explosive skip where you focus on height rather than distance. Do 2-3 sets of 12-20 skips
- Jumping Lunge – start in a lunge position with one leg in front. Keeping chest upright, jump explosively into the air and change the position of your legs – landing in a controlled lunge position with the opposite foot forward. Do 2-3 sets of 3-5 jumps per leg.
- Single Leg Push Offs – Stand with one foot resting on top of a box and the other foot immediately beside the box. Thigh should be almost parallel to the ground. Drive the foot down hard into the box propelling yourself upwards. Return in a controlled landing to the start position. Reset and repeat. Do 3-4 sets of 3-5 jumps per leg
- Pogos (2 foot ankle hop) – Bounce with minimal bending of the knees. Do 2-3 sets of 5-15 jumps
- Bounding – from a standing start (or with a slight walk-in) run with long exaggerated strides aiming for both distance and height. Drive the front leg back down so that the font foot does not land in front of your centre of mass. Do 1-3 sets of 6-12 bounds
For more information on how Strength and Conditioning programmes can help you improve your sporting performance go to www.damnfitsc.com.au/strength-and-conditioning