When you think of becoming a better runner, you may think of having to clock more miles. But, that's not necessarily the case. New research in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research
has found that plyometric moves, including squat jumps and single-leg hops help to build the power you need to be more explosive and achieve a speedier run.
In the study, athletes completed plyometric movements three times per week. After 14 days, it was found that their ground contact time, which is how many milliseconds their feet spent on the ground per step, was minimized incredibly. The result? More strides at a quicker pace. Simply put, more power provides more speed.
"Dynamic exercises train your muscles to exert considerable power in a short amount of time,” explains Krzysztof Maćkala, the study’s lead researcher and a professor at the University School of Physical Education in Wroclaw, Poland.
“You’re teaching your nervous system and connective tissue to become more responsive,” notes Andrew Kastor, who is the head running coach for the Asics Mammoth Lakes track club in California. So, the stronger the legs, the more distance can be achieved with less effort involved.
Want to try this for yourself? Try jogging for two miles and then completing one of these workouts:
Alternating Lunge Jump
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Step left foot forward into a lunge, bending knees 90 degrees. Jump, switching legs to land in a lunge with right foot forward. Jump and switch legs again for 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 6 reps.
Stand on left leg with right foot lifted behind you. Extend arms out to sides for balance. Bend left knee, then jump as high as you can for 1 rep. Do 6 reps; repeat on opposite side for 1 set. Do 3 sets.
Run backwards for 15 seconds. (No room? Run backward a few steps, then turn around and repeat.) Do 3 sets.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, facing a stable box or bench. Squat, then jump on top of box. Step each foot down for 1 rep. Do 3 sets of 6 reps.
Stand with a medicine ball on the floor in front of you. Jump, landing with right toes on ball, then immediately jump again and switch feet, tapping left toes on top. Continue for 15 seconds. Do 3 sets.
Stand with feet hip-width apart. Jump forward, driving right knee to chest and left arm forward (as if you were running); immediately repeat on opposite side. Continue for 15 seconds. Do 3 sets.
Do you incorporate plyometrics into your exercise routine regularly?