Plyometric Workouts for Speed and Acceleration

Hurdle Jumps

Strength training in the gym will get you stronger, and plyometrics are the secret to applying your strength to the track and field. Plyometric workouts for speed and acceleration increase your ability to rapidly contract your muscles after they have been partially stretched. This process, called the stretch-shortening cycle, acts like a rubber band to load and explode your muscles with greater force.

Plyometric workouts train your muscles to contract more rapidly and explosively, but you must also train the direction of these explosive forces. The forces of sprinting at maximum speed are relatively vertical. Pushing your legs down into the ground causes your muscles to stretch quickly, then rebound explosively upward, pushing you forward.

Use these vertical-oriented plyometric workouts to increase maximum speed.

Box Jumps

  • Select a box height that allows for a landing position similar to the starting position.
  • Stand with your feet facing forward at shoulder-width with your hips, knees and ankles slightly bent.
  • Use an exaggerated backward arm swing while flexing your hips, knees and ankles.
  • Quickly swing your arms forward and simultaneously explode with your legs to jump and propel your body onto the box.
  • Step down (don't jump).
  • Sets/Reps: 3x5

Hurdle Jumps and Hops

  • Single-Leg Hops (stick landing)
  • Jumps (stick landing)
  • Jumps With Bounce
  • Continuous Jumps
  • Sets/Reps: 3x5 hops each leg or 5x5 jumps

Acceleration, deceleration and changing direction all require acute shin angles and longer ground contact time. You need to explosively push the ground away in a different direction. As a result, your feet spend more time on the ground applying the necessary forces.

Standing Long Jumps

  • Stand with your feet facing forward at shoulder-width with your hips, knees and ankles slightly bent.
  • Use an exaggerated backward arm swing while flexing your hips, knees and ankles.
  • Quickly swing your arms forward and simultaneously explode with your legs to jump and propel your body forward as far as possible.
  • Stick the landing in a 3/4 Squat, flexing your hips, knees and ankles to absorb the impact.
  • Sets/Reps: 3x3 consecutive jumps

Skater Jumps

  • Stand on your left leg with your hips and knees slightly bent.
  • Extend your left hip, knee and ankle to jump forward and to the right at a 45-degree angle.
  • Land on the ball of your right foot with your hips and knees slightly bent to absorb the impact.
  • Immediately jump off your right leg in the opposite direction.
  • Continue bounding in this pattern for the specified distance.
  • Sets/Distance: 3 x 20 meters

Bounding

  • Jump from one leg to the other in a running motion.
  • Fully extend your back leg while raising your front leg into high knee position.
  • Explode quickly and cover as much ground as possible with each bound.
  • Repeat for specified distance.
  • Reps/Distance: 3x20 meters

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Topics: STRETCHING | PLYOMETRICS | TRAIN | TRACK | SWING

Corbin Lang Corbin Lang - Corbin Lang is the head track and field coach and a math teacher at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. He is a certified Level 2 Track Coach by the United States Track and Field Association. For almost 20 years, he has produced numerous league individual and team champions.
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