La plyometrics, it's what? A concept that emerged in the 70s and popularized in the 90s, it consists of repeating a relatively simple movement, consisting of an eccentric contraction (rapid stretching of the muscle), followed immediately by a maximum concentric contraction (shortening of the muscle). In other words, plyometrics are often described as a series of quick, repetitive jumps of short duration.
The goal of this type of training is to increase muscle power.
Generally speaking, plyometrics is a very demanding training method that should be practiced sparingly, especially for runners.
Indeed, it can lead to physiological adaptations not desired for marathon runners such as hypertrophy (muscle mass gain) which could lead to a decrease in endurance.
On the other hand, the majority of studies on plyometrics have been done in the context of high plyometric training volume. Of recent studies investigated the effect of a single low-volume plyometric exercise on running performance. The results are amazing!
The study therefore submitted 10 men and 6 women (all high-level trained runners) to 2 additional sessions of a single plyometric exercise: the drop-jump (which consists of descending from a platform and then jumping the highest and as soon as possible).
The training plan, lasting 6 weeks and up to 2 times a week, went as follows:
- 2 sets of 10 jumps at a height of 20 cm
- 2 sets of 10 jumps at a height of 40 cm
- 2 sets of 10 jumps at a height of 60 cm
Rest time between sets was 15 seconds and 2 minutes between different heights.
Important: the exercise was done before a regular workout and was not a substitute for any other type of workout.
At the end of the 6-week period, the experimental group experienced improvement in their performance to all tests:
- 2,3% decrease in time for a 20m sprint;
- Decrease of 3,9% in the chrono of a 2,4 km;
- 12,7% improvement in the drop jump test at a height of 20 cm and 16,7% at a height of 40 cm.
Therefore, it is inferred that adding this small routine of a single plyometric exercise would increase explosive strength and overall running performance, primarily over short distances.
If you decide to give it a try (and why not?), be sure to:
- complete a good warm-up before starting the plyometric portion;
- minimize as much as possible the time on the ground between the descent of the platform and the jump in place;
- stop if you feel pain.
To learn more about plyometrics, see the following article: How to start plyometrics for a runner?
Former member of the national biathlon team and world champion in obstacle courses, physical activity has a special place in my daily life.