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PERFORMANCE


PLYOMETRIC EXERCISES


Plyometric exercises involve jumping, hopping or skipping. These types of exercises can greatly increase the ability of your legs to spring from the ground. The quicker the time from your foot landing to your foot pushing off the less energy you waste and the more spring you have in your stride. Training your legs to be more effective at doing this is something that all runners would benefit from. Plyometrics can be included as part of a warm up or performed as a session all of its own. Follow these tops tips on how to incorporate plyometrics into your training routine and watch your running times improve...


from two feet and landing on one foot. Start with the easier exercises of jumping and skipping and progress to jopping and hopping as your muscles and tendons adapt.


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increase the distance between ground contact without increasing the time spent on the ground. Start with small bunny hops and then gradually increase the distance whilst maintaining the quick ground contact. If you try to make the distance between jumps too big you will find you will spend more time with your feet on the ground. The whole idea of plyometric exercises is to teach your muscles, tendons and ligaments to act as a spring. The impact of landing compresses the spring and then you use that energy to aid your push off. The longer you spend on the ground the more that landing force is dissipated as heat rather than aiding propulsion. So regardless of the type of plyometric exercises, make your ground contact times as brief as possible. Imagine the ground is burning hot and you want to get off it as quickly as possible.


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EASY DOES IT Plyometric exercises place a higher load on many of the muscles and tendons of the legs, so they should be introduced gradually. Start with small jumps, hops or skips and gradually


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MINIMISE GROUND CONTACT TIME You should focus on trying to


JUMP, JOP, SKIP, HOP These are the basic plyometric exercises. ‘Jopping’ is simply jumping


increase both the number and the distance between jumps.


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USE THE REST OF YOUR BODY Running is a whole body exercise.


When you push off with one leg the movement of your other leg aids this push off, as does the movement of your arms. Practise this when performing plyometric exercises.


INCLUDE THEM IN YOUR WARM UP Plyometric exercises are a great


addition to your warm up routine, particularly for faster runs or interval sessions. At the end of your usual warm up, which hopefully includes some dynamic stretches, add a series of skips, hops and jumps and notice how it affects your run afterwards. Try three lots of 30 to 50m skips, hops or jumps to begin with and progress to 100m.


MAKE TIME FOR A PLYOMETRIC SESSION EACH WEEK


By performing plyometrics in each warm up and a dedicated 20 to 30 minute session each week you will notice a big improvement in the springiness of each stride you take. Start with a series of 20 to 30 jumps and progress by 10 jumps or so each session. Have enough rest between a series of jumps to ensure you keep your ground contact times short.


RETAIN THE BOUNCE IN YOUR STRIDE As we age we start to lose the


natural elasticity of our tendons and muscles. By including a plyometric session on a regular basis we can slow down this deterioration. Notice how some older runners seem to spend a lot of time on the ground whereas others still have a spring to their step. You can increase your odds of falling in the latter category by including regular plyometrics in your routine.


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EVERY WHICH WAY We often limit our plyometric exercises to one direction –


forwards – but running involves lots of other forces, so it’s important to include as many other directions as possible, paying particular attention to differences between your left and right sides. Once you have warmed up with either


a dynamic warm up routine or a short run, start by performing small jumps. There are many ways to do this but start by jumping forward with little bunny hops for about 20 to 30m. Then jump sideways to the left for 20 to 30m, then sideways to the right. Now try jumping forwards but twisting your body to the left or right as you go. Next, jump sideways to the left but jump forwards or back at the same time, so one jump will be forwards and to the left and the next jump will be backwards and to the left. Once you’ve travelled about 20 to 30m travel back to the right. You can also do this for jops, hops and skips.


ANDY DUBOIS Andy is an elite ultra marathon runner and a qualified Personal Trainer and Exercise Coach www.andydubois. blogspot.com, andydubois@hotmail.co.uk.


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