- Jump training—or plyometrics—creates improvement in sprinting, reactive strength, and running economy in shorter distances from 2K (1.2 miles) to 5K (3.1 miles), new research shows.
- High knee skips, step-ups onto a box, jumping in and out laterally, and using an agility latter are all effective plyometric moves.
- If you’re just getting started, ease into this type of training gradually to avoid injury.
If you want to become a better runner, running needs to be a part of your regular routine, of course. But, according to new research in the Journal of Sports Sciences, you can benefit from jump training, too.
Researchers looked at 21 studies that included 511 participants total, encompassing different strategies for improvements in time-trial performances—specifically, what helped in boosting effectiveness in shorter distances from 2K (1.2 miles) to 5K (3.1 miles).
This is true for older runners as well, despite the widespread belief that jumping creates higher injury risk for joints as you age. Two of the study’s researchers published research in 2018 that looked at healthy adults over age 50 who used jump-training sessions with at least 60 seconds of recovery between sets. They concluded that jump training is safe and effective for these athletes, as long as they keep it under three sessions per week.
Kart said this type of training improves your ability to generate power—not just in terms of muscular force, but also in your neurological system. Basically, you’re training your nervous system to ramp up faster and more effectively.
“With training, the neurological system can time load and recoil to add power to your next movement,” he said. “This will improve running efficiency in short-to-medium distance runners.”
If you’re just getting started, Kart suggested easing into this type of training gradually, because you’re playing around with higher loads and more force, which puts increased challenge and stress on your body.
Typically, he starts patients with an agility ladder—which involves short, controlled hops—to get them comfortable with coordination and leaving the ground. Other moves are high knee skips, step-ups onto a box, and jumping in and out laterally.
“The key is to train for explosive movement where you’re minimizing contact with the ground,” said Kart. “Even jumping rope is a great way to do that.”
Try This Trainer’s 18-Minute Plyometric Strength Workout
This 18-minute, high-intensity workout was programmed by Tinman Elite trainer, Chris Lee, and you can follow along with him in the video above. Perform each exercise for the recommended number of reps. Complete the workout at least once a week. You need two dumbbells and a chair. A mat is optional.
The Warmup: One round
- Push-Up To Lunge Rotation: Five reps per side, alternating
- Single-Leg Glute Bridge: 10 reps per side
The Workout: Three rounds, one minute of rest between each round
- Farmer’s Carry In-Place March: 10 reps per side (with two 15- to 20-pound dumbbells)
- Bulgarian Split Squat: 10 reps per side (with two 15- to 20-pound dumbbells and a chair)
- Single Leg Push-Off: 10 reps per side
- Calf Raise: 15 reps (option to use two 10-pound dumbbells)
The Cooldown: One round
- Sitting Glute Stretch: Five reps per side
- Flossing: Five reps per side