You might be wondering what plyometrics and running have in common, particularly if you are a long distance runner. But plyometrics is one of the most effective training techniques that you can have when it comes to running. Not only are there general benefits, including improved leg strength and power , lower injury risk , and improved muscular strength .
But there are also a huge number of running-specific benefits of plyometric exercises. Plyometrics has been shown to improve running performance , running efficiency (the amount of calories burned whilst running), and it can also improve acceleration .
There are many forms of plyometrics, you can hop, bound, jump, leap, perform explosive push ups, and change direction at pace. There are also exercises you can do on a plyometric box. In this article we are going to be looking specifically at exercises that you can perform on a plyometric box that will help you improve your running.
Exercise One: Box Jumps
Box jumps are probably the most well known exercise that we’re going to look at, they’re also the exercise that is most likely to be performed incorrectly. What you have to understand about plyometrics is that while it is intense it is also a skill. You need to have control over the movement or you will get hurt, or perform the exercise badly.
A box jump involves standing in front of a box, bending your knees and then jumping on to it. Afterwards you step back down and reset. What you don’t do is jump onto the box, jump off immediately and then try to jump back on again.
You want to be landing on that box like a cat, you should finish that jump in a squat position then stand up straight and climb down. Do this properly and you will improve your hip mobility and massively improve your explosive power. Do this incorrectly and you will probably smash your shins into a box!
Check out this video of Eric Bach performing the perfect box jump, and you can see the difference
Exercise Two: Depth Jump into Sprint
Depth jumps are one of the most effective exercises for improving performance, they are also one of the most taxing exercises. If you are new to training, then you might want to avoid them. On the other hand, if you are an experienced athlete and want to massively improve your acceleration, and power production then this exercise is perfect.
Stand on top of a plyo box, then jump down. The moment you land start sprinting forward for around 10-20 metres (depending on the space you have available to you. Check out the video for a visual demonstration.
You can also do a variation where instead of sprinting forward you instead run laterally, this will improve your change-of-direction speed. This is great for people who are training for sports such as soccer where you need to change direction at pace.
Exercise Three: Depth Jump to Forward Broad Jump
This exercise is really good for strengthening the knees and increasing power, although like the previous exercise should not be taken lightly. Make sure that you are fully warmed up, and that you have been training to a high level before attempting.
Stand on a plyo box and then drop down to the floor, it’s not really a jump because you don’t travel far. When you land you immediately jump as far forward as you can, trying to land in a similar way to how we described a box jump. Quietly like a cat. Check out the video for a great demo of the exercise. As you’ll see, the guy brings one foot out in front of him before dropping down.
There are other variations of this where you land and then hop forward which are also excellent for improving running technique.