Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Improve Your Speed with Plyometrics

Plyometrics are dynamic movements that increase agility, strength, coordination, and power while decreasing your risk of injury. They are a valuable tool in a sprinter's toolbox to increase speed. If you don't incorporate plyometrics into your training program, then you should definitely think about it. Plyometrics are a perfect complement to the sprint workout I outlined in my post Don't Just Run: Sprint!

There are dozens of different types of plyometric exercises. I’ve narrowed the list down to the ones a beginner could easily try. Before we get to the exercises, though, let’s discuss some general guidelines to keep in mind as you get started.

When you first add plyometrics to your routine, take it slowly and focus on performing the exercises in a controlled manner. You should always warm up before you begin. Allow adequate rest time between plyometric workouts. I recommend doing plyometrics workouts only twice a week - one on Monday and another on Friday (or Tuesday and Saturday).

Perform 3-6 of the exercises listed below. Perform 1-2 sets of 10 reps of each exercise with one minute rest between sets.. Allow two minutes of rest between exercises. Plyometrics workouts are measured in foot contacts - the number of times your feet impact the ground or other surface. You want to keep your workouts in the range of 80-160 foot contacts. That means that if you do all six exercises in one workout, do only one set of each exercise to begin with and work up to doing two sets if you want.

Bounding. Run forward while taking long, exaggerated strides. Leap from one foot to the next, going for distance.

Box Jumps. Stand in front of a box or other suitable platform, such as a plyometric box, a picnic table, or park bench. Jump onto the box and immediately back down to the same position. Immediately repeat. Perform the jumps as quickly as possible. (Count each jump as two foot contacts.)

Depth Jumps. Start off by standing on top of a box or other platform. Hop off the box and land on both your feet. As soon as your feet hit the ground, jump as high as you can. Get back on the box and repeat. (Count each jump as two foot contacts.)

Power skips: Begin skipping forward, driving your leg up towards your chin and propelling yourself as high as possible.

Squat Jumps. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down and jump as high as possible. Upon landing, squat and immediately jump up again.

Tuck Jumps. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Explode and jump as high as you can. As you rise, pull your knees into your chest. On the way down, straighten your legs and land softly on the balls of your feet. As soon as your feet touch the ground, perform another tuck jump.

For the box jumps and depth jumps, I recommend starting at a height of about 12 inches (30 cm) to learn the jumps and get used to the impact. If you're not a competitive athlete, 24 inches (60 cm) is a good height to aim for.

Here are sample beginner and intermediate plyometrics routines:

Do 1-2 sets of 5-10 reps each (20-80 foot contacts).
1) Squat Jumps
2) Bounding
3) Box Jumps

Do 1-2 sets of 5-10 reps each (20-80 foot contacts).
1) Tuck Jumps
2) Power Skips
3) Depth Jumps

Do 1-2 sets of 10 reps each (80-160 foot contacts).
1) Squat Jumps
2) Tuck Jumps
3) Bounding
4) Power Skips
5) Box Jumps
6) Depth Jumps

Plyometrics are by their nature intense. You’ll be putting a lot of load on your joints and tendons. Keep in mind that you can develop a great deal of strength and power without resorting to plyometrics, but if you participate in sports that require sprinting and jumping, plyometric training may help to improve skill and performance.

There is a common misconception that people are born with speed, but speed is like intelligence; it is invisible until developed. An amazing new book called Developing Killer Speed reveals how you can decrease your forty yard dash By .4 seconds in 2 weeks! To discover the simple formula that can increase your speed and decrease your times, click here.

Design by Free Wordpress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Templates