Despite logging regular miles, most runners try to incorporate a variety exercises to improve their running. If you’re hoping to improve power, speed or endurance, it can be beneficial to incorporate some plyometrics for running.
Are plyometrics good for runners?
There’s no doubt about it – plyometrics can help improve your running performance if completed correctly and regularly. Incorporating a few plyometric exercises into your training routine will help your body become more efficient and powerful over time.
It makes sense that plyometrics are beneficial for runners – but deciding how to incorporate these workouts into your training requires a bit of planning.
What are plyometrics?
Simply put, plyometrics are quick, powerful movements repeated in rapid succession. Simple exercises such as squats and lunges can be transformed into a plyometric exercise with the addition of a jump or leap in between each repetition.
These explosive movements cause your muscles to transition quickly between an eccentric and concentric contraction. Tension is initiated as the muscle lengthens, until the muscle creates more force as it shortens and overcomes the tension. The muscle then briefly stabilizes until it lengthens and repeats the process with a new repetition.
Plyometric exercises for runners are especially beneficial when working to improve power or speed on the run. These fast movements might look intimidating, but are quite adaptable for different fitness levels.
The Benefits of Plyometrics for Running
Incorporating plyometric workouts into your regular training routine has been shown to enhance and improve your overall performance. In addition to simply providing a great cross training workout, plyometrics have many benefits for running.
- The force required by the muscles during plyometrics helps improve oxygen use on the run
- As oxygen use becomes more efficient, less is required to run at faster speeds
- Overall running economy improves, thus requiring less effort during a run
- Muscle power improves, therefore increasing your output with each step on the run
- Plyometrics helps train muscle fibers to work more efficiently
What are the best plyometric exercises for runners?
Luckily, most strength training exercises can be transformed into a plyometric exercise. Runners will benefit from any plyometric exercise, but most find it particularly useful to focus on plyometrics that target the lower body.
Try adding these 8 plyometric exercises to your training routine to help improve your running and increase your fitness. Complete them all together as a full plyometric workout, or try incorporating some individual exercises into your regular strength or cross training workouts.
These plyometrics for runners can be adapted for all fitness levels. Try them out and see how your running improves!
8 Plyometrics for Runners
- Single Leg Hops
- Squat Jumps
- Height Skips
- Frog Jumps
- Running Leg Bounds
- Box Jumps
- Split Squats
- Tuck Jumps
Single Leg Hops
This plyometric exercise can be adapted in multiple different ways. When you are beginning, try a stationary single leg hop: stand on one leg and hop into the air as high as possible. After landing, continue to repeat with no break in between.
To make this exercise a bit more challenging, try moving forward in a straight line while you hop. Balance on one leg and hop into the air, moving forward to land slightly in front of where you started. Continue to hop while moving forward.
The focus of this plyometric exercise is to maintain control and balance while moving as quickly as possible.
Since squats are a typical exercise in most strength training workouts, this plyometric exercise is especially beneficial for runners. Begin by standing with feet spread about hip width distance apart, and lower down as if you were about to sit in a chair.
Quickly straighten your legs and propel your body into the air, jumping with both feet. Land back in your original position and quickly lower down into another squat. Continue to repeat as quickly as possible, with no breaks in between.
You can increase the intensity of this plyometric exercise by focusing on jumping as high as possible, and lowering down into a full squat with each repetition.
This plyometric exercise can be completed either in place or while moving forward. This exercise is a modification of a regular skip, as the focus shifts to skipping as high as possible into the air.
With each skip, aim to bring your knee up to your chest and jump as high as possible into the air.
If you’re hoping to really feel the burn and intensity, try adding frog jumps to your plyometric workout. This plyometric is especially beneficial for running, as it targets the hamstrings, glutes and quadriceps.
Begin by standing with feet spread slightly wider than hip width distance apart. Bend at the knees to lower down into a wide legged squat. From the squatting position, jump forward into the air, landing with both feet in front of where you started.
Upon landing, immediately lower down into a wide legged squat and repeat with minimal break in between.
Running Leg Bounds
This plyometric exercise mimics running, which can help improve the power you produce with each step on the run. You’ll need space to complete this exercise, as it requires you to move forward with each step.
Begin by moving forward in an exaggerated running motion, taking long, slow steps. As you take each step, jump forward with your front leg, landing slightly off to the side. Continue to move forward by alternating legs, as if you were running in slow motion.
This is one of the best plyometrics for runners who are looking to improve their power and efficiency during regular training runs.
A classic plyometric exercise is the box jump. This exercise requires a box, stool, chair or another sturdy surface that is about a foot off the ground.
Simply stand in front of the box or stool and jump onto it with both legs. The exercise itself sounds simple, but many athletes are surprised by the mental challenge (more so than physical) that this double leg jump presents.
To increase the intensity of this exercise, choose a slightly higher stool or box as you become more efficient. The focus should be on landing with control, balance, and repeating each jump with no break in between.
Another way to turn a standard squat into a plyometric exercise is with split squats. Begin by standing with both feet next to each other, and then jump into the air. Land with your feet slightly further than hip width distance apart, and lower into a squat.
Squat down as if you were about to sit in a chair, and then jump into the air, landing with your feet next to one another. Continue to repeat with no break in between.
To add intensity during this plyo, stand on a short stool or step to begin. When you jump your feet out to the side, jump off the step and onto the floor. After squatting, you’ll bring your feet back together by jumping back up onto the step.
When completing plyometrics for running, tuck jumps are a great way to engage all of the muscles in the lower body, as well as the back and core. This plyometrics exercise require full body strength and adapts with you as you gain force and power.
Begin by standing with feet spread slightly apart, and then bend slightly at the knees to jump as high as possible into the air. While you jump, bring your knees up towards your chest. Land back in a standing position and then repeat with minimal break in between.
Plyometrics are so beneficial for runners – and the best part is that each exercise can be easily adapted to meet your current fitness level.
Beginner runners can complete all of the same plyometric exercises as those who are more seasoned or advanced. Your running will benefit in so many ways as you being incorporating plyometrics into your training.
Start small with just a few plyometric exercises each week, or dive in by adding a full plyometrics workout on your cross training day. Your running speed, power, and efficiency are sure to benefit from plyometric training.