Plyometrics for Endurance Athletes

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As endurance athletes the goal of our winter time strength training programs are not to get big, bulky muscles, but rather to prepare the athlete for the season ahead with injury prevention and building lean muscles that are powerful and able to produce a large amount of force in a short period of time. The downside is, with great potential for physiological gains comes great potential for injury. In this blog post we will go through the science of behind plyo training, the benefits of plyo training, and include videos that cue and demonstrate how to correctly perform the exercises.

Plyometrics are specific exercises that take advantage of what is called the stretch-shortening cycle of muscles. This cycle consists of three phases: Pre-stretch (eccentric loading) phase, where the muscles generate and store elastic energy; Amortization phase, where your body briefly transitions from eccentric loading phase to the next phase; and the actual Muscle Contraction (concentric) phase. By pre-stretching the working muscles, the muscle contraction (concentric phase) yields a more powerful output then if the muscles were not pre-stretched.

In terms of how this can benefit endurance athletes the gains seen from plyometric training include increased power. For cyclist, this is beneficial when you have to accelerate up a short climb, chase down a quick attack, or open your sprint with enough power to cause the race winning gap. For runner, these benefits include being able to accelerating up sudden changes in terrain and having more explosiveness for those times when you have to push.

Shawn Bostad and I made a videos with cueing and demonstration of key plyometric exercises that will have you feeling stronger and more powerful then ever before.

1.) Squat Jump

SquatJump from Upper Echelon Fitness on Vimeo.

2.) Lunge Jump

LungeJump from Upper Echelon Fitness on Vimeo.

3.) Box Jump

BoxJump from Upper Echelon Fitness on Vimeo.

4.) Launch Jump

LaunchJump from Upper Echelon Fitness on Vimeo.

5.) Box Drop

BoxDrop from Upper Echelon Fitness on Vimeo.

6.) Depth Jump

DepthJump from Upper Echelon Fitness on Vimeo.

Progression with these exercises should be slow and well thought out. In general, most athletes would be fine with the following 2-3 times a week:

Weeks 1-2: Squat Jump x 10, Lunge Jumps x 10 (5 each leg)

Weeks 2-3: Squat Jump x 15, Lunge Jumps x 20 (10 each leg), Box Jump x 10

Weeks 5-6: Lunge Jumps x 20, Box Jumps x 10, Launch Jump x 20 (10 each leg), Box Drops x 10

Weeks 7-8: Box Jumps x 15, Launch Jumps x 20, Depth Jumps x 10

These exercise can be added to tradition strength routines or included before or after cardio / cross training sessions. For more information on how these exercise can having you feeling stronger and more explosive then ever and what progression might be right for you, contact info@upperechelon.com.

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