Fitness / Running

6 Plyometrics Moves to Make You a Better Runner

Do these six jumping exercises to help you run faster and farther.

Running is more than just running. It’s a full body exercise that requires cardiovascular and muscular endurance and strength.

If you’re looking to improve your running performance, then look no further than the workouts in the Aaptiv app and plyometrics moves.

Plyometric (jumping) training can help you become a better runner, according to a recent European Journal of Sport Science study.

Researchers divided the study participants into two groups that did eight weeks of running training. One group performed moves like squat jumps, bounds, and hurdle hops before runs, while the other group just ran.

Turns out that the jumpers increased their step length,VO2 max (the most amount of oxygen that you can consume during exercise), and peak speed more than the runners.

Plyometrics moves increase the rear leg drive by building up the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your legs, resulting in a bigger stride. This newfound leg explosiveness also explains the boost in VO2 max and maximum speed.

Another way to measure running performance is running economy­—the amount of oxygen needed to run a certain distance. Running economy is often measured as milliliter of oxygen per kilogram of bodyweight used per minute (ml.kg-1.min−1).

A 2006 Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research study found that nine weeks of plyometrics moves improved running economy in middle and long distance runners.

It’s important to note that running economy is how well you can run at a submaximal intensity (about 50-75 percent of your VO2 max), making it a completely different measurement than VO2 max.

Between building leg strength, upping your maximum speed, changing your running mechanics, and bettering your ability to breathe, plyometrics moves do it all for runners.

Plyometrics come in a few different shapes and sizes. Read on to learn six of these moves that are especially beneficial for running. But first, find out how to keep your form and landing in check while you, well, jump around.

Rules for Landing During Plyometrics

  1. During the landing, your shoulders should be over your knees, and your knees should be over the toes. Your knees and hips should be slightly bent with the feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Land softly with the feet in full contact with the ground, keeping more weight on the ball of the foot versus the heel. This allows for a quickly turn-around on the landings, so that you spend as little time as possible on the ground, achieving maximum power output.

The Big Six Plyometrics Moves

Squat Jump

How to Do It: Start in a squat position with feet shoulder width apart, slightly pointed outwards. The jump happens from here. Jump vertically and land back into a squat. Repeat. Remember that rule number two applies to this and all of the plyometrics exercises listed below.

Do two to three sets of ten reps prior to your running workout. Note: A countermovement jump (CMJ) is when you start from a standing position and get into a squat then jump. The CMJ and squat jump are two different moves. So, to perform a proper squat jump, always start in that squat position.

Ankle Jumps

How to Do It: Stand tall with feet shoulder width apart; this is the starting position. Using only your ankles, hop up in place fully plantar-flexing your ankles with each jump. This means that you’re pushing the balls of your feet into the ground to fully flex your foot as your jump vertically. Land in the starting position.

Do two to three sets of ten reps prior to running workouts.

Double Leg Bound

How to Do It: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent and your arms at your side; this is the starting position. Quickly bend your knees and pump your arms backward as you jump up and forward. As soon as you land, repeat the hop forward. The goal isn’t distance. It’s a combination of height, speed, and distance to result in completing the reps as fast as possible with proper form.

Do four sets of five reps prior to running workouts.

Depth Jump

How to Do It: You will need a plyometric box between 12-30 inches high, depending on your fitness level. Stand on top of the box with feet shoulder-width apart and toes near the edge of the box; this is the starting position. Now, step off the box and land with both feet on the floor. Immediately jump vertically as high as possible. That’s one rep.

Do two sets of ten reps before running workouts.

Hurdle Hop

How to Do It: You’ll need a barrier of some type, whether it be a SKLZ HurdlePower Systems Hurdle, the hurdle at your local track, or even just a cone. Stand in front of the hurdle with feet shoulder-width apart; this is the starting position. Bend your knees slightly and jump over the barrier with both legs. Keep your feet and knees together throughout the jump. Land in the starting position and jump over the next barrier. If you only have one hurdle, turn around and jump over it again.

Do four sets of five reps prior to running workouts.

Long Jump

How to Do It: Get into a half squat position where knees are bent and you’ve lowered your hips about 12 inches. Your thighs are not deep enough to be parallel; this is the starting position. Now, simultaneously pump both arms back and bend your knees then jump forward as far as possible. Land with both feet entirely on the ground, meaning that the heels should “stick it” at the end. Take 30-60 seconds rest between repetitions to achieve maximum distance.

Do two sets of five reps before running.

Incorporate these six plyometrics moves into your endurance training program by using your Aaptiv fitness app to give yourself the edge on the course.

Mark Barroso is a NSCA-CPT and Spartan SGX Coach.

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