You’re a sprinter, but you may need a little shove in the right direction when it comes to improving your times. Plyometric drills are great for increasing speed, and performing these drills is more than just jumping up and down. What plyometric drills incorporate are quick and powerful jumping and bounding movements. Injury can be a real concern with plyometric drills, so it’s best to perform them under the supervision of a coach or trainer.
When performing plyometrics it’s important to provide 100 percent exertion. The only way to utilize the strengthening moves of plyometrics is to force your muscles to work hard. Between sets of plyometric drills you should allow time to recover. Don’t jump right into the next exercise without catching your breath for 30 to 60 seconds. Each set of plyometric drills should not last longer than six to eight seconds, according to CoachesEducation.com. It’s important to maintain correct technique when performing plyometric drills. If you fatigue to the point where you are not maintaining your technique, rest and then jump back into the exercises.
In both sprinting and plyometrics you use fast-twitch muscle fibers. Therefore, the healthy development of these muscle fibers is important for runners who want to improve their power and momentum for sprints. High intensity, anaerobic activities with short bursts of energy are beneficial. Plyometric drills should have a steady increase in intensity. With that in mind, starting with easier plyometric drills and working your way up to the progressively harder drills is essential. You can also vary your reps and sets during the beginning exercises in order to make the exercises less intense and increase as you go along with your workout.
Sample Plyometric Drills
When choosing plyometric drills to increase your sprinting speed, aim for those drills that mimic the movements when running. Three useful plyometric drills for sprinters would be bounding, a long depth jump and a split jump. Start with the bounding drill by jogging to the start of the drill. Forcefully push off with the left foot and bring the leg forward. Drive your right arm forward at the same time. Repeat this movement with the other arm and leg. Next is the long depth jump. Stand on the box or stool and make sure to stand close to the front edge facing a measured floor. Step off the box or stool and land on both feet behind your measured start line. Jump off the floor as fast as you can and as far as you can jump. A split jump is great for working the quads and hip flexors. Place one foot a step ahead of your center of gravity and the other two steps behind your center of gravity. Bend your knees slightly and keep your hands on your hips. Your front foot should be flat and your back heel should be off the floor. Tilt the hips back and jump as high up as you can, but make sure to maintain your leg position. Land in the same spot and allow your bent knees to absorb the impact. Switch legs and repeat the exercise.
How often you should perform plyometric drills for sprinting purposes is debatable. However, better sprinting speeds and jumping heights have been found when using plyometric drills at a moderate to a low number of training sessions per week compared with higher weekly frequencies, according to a study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research." The study compared plyometric training in different groups with one group training one day a week, one group training two days per week and another training four days per week. To put your best foot or sprinting leg forward, practice plyometric drills one to two days per week alongside your sprinting training.
- CoachesEducation.com: Principles of Plyometric Training
- dualFIT.com: Can Plyometric Workouts Make You a Faster Sprinter?
- ExRx.net: Plyometric Exercises
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Low and Moderate Plyometric Training Frequency Produces Greater Jumping and Sprinting Gains Compared with High Frequency
- SportsFitnessAdvisor.com: Sample Speed Training Drills
- Runners World: Get a Jump On it
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