Plyometric Exercises for Runners

February 3, 2013 | Joe Lopez

Must See Track & Field Videos

Picture yourself on the starting line of a race. You’re in the blocks. You pull back to create eccentric motion in the lower leg before firing forward to victory. Now imagine yourself being able to shoot off even further. Want to know how? With plyometric training, which is beneficial for all track & field athletes, regardless of event.

Those instinctive motions you go through before a race directly reflect plyometric training. Plyometric exercises develop a muscle’s stretch shortening cycle—when the muscle actively relaxes before a more forceful contraction. During the active relaxation phase, energy is stored and then shot off—like snapping a rubber band—to forcefully contract the muscle and tendon group. The following workout, which I designed, will improve your overall race times. (See also Building a Safe Plyometric Progression.)

Before you begin, review these guidelines:

  • Give yourself plenty of rest to recover between reps.
  • Each exercise should be done at full speed. This workout should take 45 minutes, including the warm-up.
  • To effectively train plyometrically, limit the amount of time you are on the ground. Try to land and re-jump as quickly as possible.
  • Think explosive. These exercises are high impact, so they should not be done for endurance training.
  • Limit your ground strikes to no more than 200 in the beginning. Eventually, you can work your way up to 500 touches in a workout.
  • The heavier you are, the harder it will be to recover. If you weigh 200 pounds or more, give yourself at least 3 days to recover before your next plyometric training session.

Runner’s Plyometric Workout

Ankle Hops

Sets/Reps: 3x10 (cumulative foot touches: 30)

  • Jump up and down bending only at the ankles
  • Keep your knees and hips in with the rest of your body

Knee Tucks

Sets/Reps: 2x10 (cumulative foot touches: 50)

  • Jump up and down, bringing your knees towards your chest at the top of the jump

Bounding

Sets/Reps: 2x20 (cumulative foot touches: 90)

  • Start running, but leap into the air, extend your knees and reach for as long as your stride allows

Dynamic Lunges

Sets/Reps: 2x10 (cumulative foot touches: 130)

  • Start in a lunge position
  • Explode up and switch your legs
  • Land in a soft position with your knees flexed and out

Depth Jumps

Sets/Reps: 2x20 (cumulative foot touches: 150)

  • Stand on 12- to 16-inch box
  • Step off the box and touch ground with both feet together
  • Make sure your knees don't cave in and that you have proper alignment in your knees and hips
  • Jump back up onto another box and land in a flexed knee position or a half squat

Kneeling to Standing Explosive Jump

Sets/Reps: 3x10 (cumulative foot touches: 180)

  • Kneel on a pad or on the floor.
  • Drop the hips lower and explode upwards
  • Flex the knees and the hips and land on your feet in a half-squat position.

Kneeling to Standing Explosive Jump to Sprint

Sets/Reps: 2x10 (cumulative foot touches: 200)

  • Repeat previous exercise but when you land, immediately sprint forward ten yards
Joe Lopez
- Joe Lopez, CSCS, works with many different athletes at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, N.J. His expertise is in track & field,...
Joe Lopez
- Joe Lopez, CSCS, works with many different athletes at Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, N.J. His expertise is in track & field,...
Must See
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 20,297,638
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 6,471,296
Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 4,749,759

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 3,167
Eastbay Path to the Pros Episode 1: Introducing the Players Views: 20,470
Elite Performance with Mike Boyle: Intro to Complexes Views: 61,506
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

STACK Fitness Weekly: How To Do a Muscle-Up
Views: 778,488
Greg Nixon's Hill Training Program
Views: 705,633
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,559,831
How Greg Nixon Converts Strength to Speed
Views: 960,874
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,329,250

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Improve Your Baseball Speed With This On-Field Workout

Many baseball players are looking to gain baseball speed. We use this term in our training because in the game of baseball there are certain movements...

How to Build First-Step Quickness for Baseball and Softball

The Speed Drill That Set Up DeSean Jackson's 64-Yard Touchdown

6 Essential Multi-Directional Speed Drills

Sprint Faster With Speed Demons

How the Cable Machine Can Help You Get Faster

Todd Durkin's 5 Exercises to Increase Your Agility

The Secret to Tom Brady's Newfound Speed

Ditch the Sprints. Here's How to Build True Sports Speed

Lengthen Your Stride for Maximum Speed

Supreme Speed: 6 Training Tips from Football's Fastest Man

4 Speed Training Mistakes Athletes Make in the Weight Room

Deceleration: The Missing Link for Hockey Speed Training

Linear Speed Drills to Improve Athleticism

King of the Hill: 5 Hill Run Exercises to Supercharge Your Speed

Speed Plyometrics to Help You Run Faster

Previewing the Fastest Draft Prospects of the 2015 NFL Combine

Todd Durkin's 5 Drills for Faster Sprints

Why Youth Athletes Need to Focus On Strength to Improve Speed

The Off-Season Baseball Speed and Agility Workout Program

Acceleration Drills to Increase Speed

5 Weight Room Speed Exercises You're Not Doing

3 Simple Steps to Get Quick

Speed Drill of the Day: Get More Explosive with Ankle Hops

Run Faster and Longer

The 10 Best Speed Exercises for Athletes

Improve Your Footwork to Improve Football Agility

Sprinting Technique Errors and How to Fix Them

How to Train for Speed in Cold Weather

Build Sprint Speed Like an Olympian

4 Powerful Band Agility Drills

Here's Why Andre Williams' Breakout Performance Was No Fluke

Skipping Drills: The Missing Link From Your Speed Workouts

8 Speed Workout Tips to Get Faster

3 Acceleration Drills for a Faster First Step

Increase Your Lacrosse Speed With Multi-Directional Exercises

How to Improve Your Basketball Quickness in 5 Minutes

The 5 Elements of a Successful Speed Training Program

Improve Your Football 40 Time During the Season

5 Stretches That Can Instantly Make You Faster

12-Week Off-Season Baseball Speed Workout

3 Biggest Myths About Soccer Speed