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Plyometrics can make you a stronger, faster runner

plyometrics for runners

After doing the same workout day in and day out, many of us get tired of our fitness regimen and stop seeing results. That’s where plyometrics come in. These exercises can make you stronger, speedier, and svelter.

Plyometrics: 101

Plyometrics (also called “jump training” exercises) are explosive bounding moves that mimic the motions used in sports like football, volleyball, and skiing. These type of exercises focus on controlled impact and maximum power. Plyometrics are trendy now thanks in part to the Crossfit craze, but this type of training has been around for decades; it was first used by Eastern European Olympic athletes in the 1970s.

Plyometrics are challenging but effective, and can aid in the following:

Jump training exercises for runners

Add plyometrics to your workout routine twice a week for maximum benefits. Warm up with a few minutes of light jogging or jumping jacks, and then try these plyometric drills for runners:

  • Jumpees: Stand in a squat position with your feet hip-width apart. Jump up as high as you can, land with your knees bent, and hold for a few seconds in the squat position.
  • Skip ups: Skip as you normally would, but greatly exaggerate the motion. Jump off the ground while pointing your toe and make sure you jump high enough so that the thigh of your leading leg is parallel to the ground.
  • Standing long jumps: Stand in a squat position, swing your arms back, and leap forward as far as you can, landing on both feet.
  • Jump and sprint: Do the standing long jump, but sprint for about 10 yards after each time you land.
  • Two-way hops: Stand on your right leg only and bound a few feet forward, landing on your left leg. Stay on your left leg and jump a few feet backwards, landing on your right leg. Remain on your right leg and hop to the left side landing on your left leg. That’s one set. Repeat the drill on the other side, starting on your left leg.

With plyometrics, quality is more important that quantity. Do as many repetitions of each exercise as you can while keeping proper form.

To prevent injuries

Plyometric exercises are intense, so they’re not for everyone. If you’re new to fitness or prone to athletic injuries, talk to your doctor before trying plyometrics.

According to the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, plyometric work can help some athletes — specifically younger athletes — prevent knee and ACL injuries because these powerful movements strengthen the muscles and reduces the impact on the joints.

You can reduce your risk of injuries by performing plyometric exercises on padded surfaces — like a gym mat or grass — and by landing softly and not wobbling when you come down. Repeating “light as a feather” in your head during plyometrics is a great reminder. Experts also recommend taking a two-week break from plyometrics every eight weeks.

Written by Jenilee Matz, MPH. Jen is writer, runner, and new(ish) mom living in the suburbs of Charlotte, N.C.

Related: Exercise is a great thing for both the mind and body.