How Beneficial Are Plyometric Exercises for Runners?

Muscles and tendons store energy for running. Your body can store energy from impact and then release it to propel your body forward. As such, a large proportion of your propulsive energy actually comes from the energy stored in your leg as it bends slightly during the landing phase. 

Improvements in the ability of your muscles to store this elastic energy can provide a significant advantage to runners. More stored energy and the ability to release it forcefully would mean you could maintain a given pace using less overall energy. Simply speaking, your efficiency would improve.

More: 5 Core Exercises That Increase Stability and Running Efficiency

Plyometrics—propulsive movements and jumps that require explosive power—are exercises that aim to improve your ability to store and release energy by conditioning the neuromuscular and elastic characteristics of the muscle. The main objective of plyometric training is to produce greater power by training the muscles to contract more quickly and forcefully from an actively pre-stretched position.

This article will examine some of the research on the effectiveness of plyometrics.

The Scientific Benefit of Plyometrics

Numerous studies have confirmed that adding plyometrics can improve VO2 max, running efficiency, and help you run faster at shorter distances like the 5K and 10K. One 2003 study conducted on beginning runners showed that after a six-week plyometric routine, runners demonstrated a 2.3 percent improvement in their running economy at speeds between 10:00 and 7:30 mile pace. The participants used less oxygen at these speeds than they had before the plyometric training. The control group, meanwhile, demonstrated no significant changes in running economy. 

More: Strength Train to Improve Running Economy

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About the Author

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette is a 2:22 marathoner and owner of RunnersConnect, a team of expert coaches dedicated to helping you run faster with the latest running and nutrition research as well as training insights from elite runners. He recently released a free eBook, 16 Weeks to a Faster Marathon. Download it now.

Jeff Gaudette is a 2:22 marathoner and owner of RunnersConnect, a team of expert coaches dedicated to helping you run faster with the latest running and nutrition research as well as training insights from elite runners. He recently released a free eBook, 16 Weeks to a Faster Marathon. Download it now.

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