Plyometric Drills for Runners

14 Mar

“Jump around! Jump around! Jump up! Jump up and get down!” ~ House of Pain

If you want to increase speed as a runner, a good place to start is by incorporating plyometric drills into your weekly run workouts. A lot of new runners look at adding drills to your workouts as something that only “serious runners” do, but runners of all levels can reap benefits from jumping, leaping, and skipping! (And don’t worry, it is totally okay if doing these drills makes you feel like a kid again!) I started doing plyometric workouts about a year and half ago when I was going through the running study at the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training and I have seen serious improvement. While I fell off the wagon with doing these exercises while I was pregnant (not a good idea for pregnant ladies to go jumping around), it is time for them to reappear on my training schedule!

“[Plyometrics] teaches the proprioceptors of your muscles and joints to push off the ground with greater force.” ~ Donald Chu, Ph.D., Jumping Into Kinetics

The many benefits of including plyometrics in your training include increasing your speed, increasing your flexibility and agility, improving your running coordination, and decreasing your likelihood of injury. In addition to these benefits, one major advantage to adding plyometrics to your routine is that it does not add much time to your training. Many plyometric drills can be incorporated into your schedule by only adding a few minutes to each workout.

Distance runners are most likely to benefit from plyometric workouts. As distance runners, our running economy is directly proportional to our muscle’s ability to use oxygen efficiently. Plyometric workouts utilize different types of muscles (fast-twitch) than are used in distance running. The quick, powerful bursts of movement increase the speed of your muscle contractions and boost your speed performance. When both types of muscles (slow-twitch and fast-twitch) are strengthened, you will find that you will reach the point of fatigue much later than a runner who only works on distance runs. Thus, your running economy improves. Plyometric training will helps distance runners use their muscles most efficiently.

To reap maximum benefits from plyometric training, you only have to add drills to your workouts 1 or 2 times per week! There are lots of plyometric exercises out there, but here are a few of my favorites:

A-SKIPS

B-SKIPS

BUTT KICKS

BOX JUMPS
(Please keep in mind that you do NOT have to start out jumping as high as is seen in this video. You can start much lower, on a step or curb, for example, and increase height as you get stronger.)

Here is an example workout schedule that would build up your plyometric abilities over 5 weeks. Starting out slow might help you build your strength and coordination. Try and incorporate each weeks’s workout twice per week! As you progress in your training, you can always add other plyometric exercises. You can view and print a list of additional exercises here, or click here to download a .pdf.

Keep in mind that it is best to do plyometric drills on dirt, grass, soft tracks, or cushioned floors…you know, just in case you do lose your footing.

Do YOU incorporate plyometric training into your workouts? If so, how have you seen improvement? What other plyometric exercises do YOU do?

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7 Responses to “Plyometric Drills for Runners”

  1. Andrea March 14, 2012 at 12:27 PM #

    I LOVE plyometric drills (but I am a sprinter at heart first) and just an average distance runner. Just started incorporating the A/B/skip drills etc. again as they are part of a typical active warm-up for runners and I finally hit the track for strides again last week.

    BTW, my calves (and gluts) are pretty weak returning from pregnancy due to the postural changes and I totally felt like I had no “bounce” in me. But I think that will return the more I get back to it. Definitely recommend the first drills as a warm-up, but the box jump is pretty advanced (especially if you jump down from it and land using eccentric contractions (not shown in the video)-that’s usually not recommended until you can squat at least body wt. and have done plyos for a while.

    Enjoy!

  2. running on faith March 14, 2012 at 1:31 PM #

    gosh, I remember doing these in high school and college! I really should start doing these again post-baby as they do help. Thanks for the reminder/post about the exercises!

  3. triing2survive March 14, 2012 at 11:06 PM #

    I SO didn’t realize that these were plyometric drills. I just thought they were some crazy drills my coach had me doing. I haven’t done them in a while, but I need to get back to doing them. I like doing the A Skips, but being so uncoordinated, B Skips are hard for me.

  4. blondelvstorun March 15, 2012 at 9:50 AM #

    Thanks Katie, I am going to try this and see how it works.

  5. oliverclan88 March 15, 2012 at 11:50 AM #

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    I just had to reblog this post about plyometric drills for runners!! I’ve GOT to start doing this! And it doesn’t take that much time! :)

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