Run Faster By Jumping Higher

March 6, 2013 | Giovanni Grassi

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The real secret to running faster is not found on the track. If you really want to hit top speed, max out your jump. Although it may seem counterintuitive, three major factors correlate the two movements.

Triple extension

This is created with hip extension from the glutes, knee extension from the quadriceps and ankle extension from the calves. You use triple extension during both running and jumping. Think about the power to explode off the ground in jumping and off the blocks in sprinting. (For more on triple extension, see Improve Your Game By Working Hip and Hamstring Extension.)

Elastic stored energy

Another similarity between jumping and running is the need for elastic stored energy. This is power developed inside the hamstring muscles. It prepares the body for an explosive movement after the muscle is stretched.

Duration of the amortization phase

Jump training will help your speed work because of the body's need to reduce the duration of the amortization phase of a movement. The amortization phase is one of the three muscle actions in an explosive movement—the concentric phase, the amortization phase (transition) and the eccentric phase.

If the amortization phase lasts too long, the energy stored during the eccentric phase is wasted and can no longer be used for power production. Since the amortization phase must be kept to a minimum, the stretch-shortening cycle is crucial in power production.

In jumping, the amortization phase is the time after you've lowered your body into position to jump and right before you actually jump. Decreasing that time allows for greater power production in the hamstrings, less ground contact time and faster muscle twitch.

Improving your jumping ability will lead to an increase in your speed, because running also has an amortization phase. It happens with every stride. In acceleration and top-end speed, the body is constantly performing plyometric movements through repeated contacts with the ground and extension of the lower body in fast and explosive movements. So jump training will result in an increase in your running speed.

Two types of jumps will turn you into the next Usain Bolt: Depth Jumps and Reactive Hurdle Jumps.

Depth Jumps

The key is to spend as little time as possible in contact with the ground between the two boxes.

Sets/Reps: 10x3 with 60 seconds rest between sets

  • Set up two boxes of equal or different heights about one yard apart
  • Stand on the edge of the lower box (if using two different box heights)
  • Drop off the box as if you were walking and the floor disappeared
  • Once your feet touch the ground quickly explode up onto the higher box

Reactive Hurdle Jumps

Again, you want to spend the least amount of time possible in contact with the ground between the two hurdles.

Sets/Reps: 10x3 with 60 seconds rest between sets

  • Set up two hurdles of equal or different heights about one yard apart
  • If you are using two different hurdle heights, place the taller one in front of the shorter one
  • Jump over the first hurdle
  • As soon as you touch the ground, explode up as fast as possible over the shorter hurdle

Tips

Do these drills as fast as possible. The key is to reduce the amortization phase, so perform every move quickly and explosively. You are trying to increase the speed of your movements by decreasing the amount of time your body is in transition from one phase to the next. To add difficulty, increase the height of the boxes or hurdles.

Giovanni Grassi
- Giovanni Grassi is an NSCA-CSCS-certified sports performance specialist at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J., where he trains athletes in speed and agility...
Giovanni Grassi
- Giovanni Grassi is an NSCA-CSCS-certified sports performance specialist at the Parisi Speed School in Fair Lawn, N.J., where he trains athletes in speed and agility...

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