Want to pump up your pace? Jump! Runners who did plyometrics for two months shaved seconds from their sprint times, shows a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. That’s like tapping into your legs rocket boosters. Here’s how to go full throttle.
Prepare for takeoff. Dynamic stretches prime your muscles for jumping. Do 10 yards each of the following moves without stopping: A-skips (skip bringing front knee high), butt kicks, high knees, carioca (a side shuffle crossing one foot in front of the other), side shuffle, high knees with opposite elbows to the knee, A-skips into a lunge.
Catch air. Incorporate a few plyo moves like squat jumps and burpees twice a week, doing two sets of 10 to 12 reps. (Newbie strength trainers should begin with exercises like squats, lunges, and calf raises to build lower-body stability first.) “Perform those plyometrics with fresh legs,” says Lovitt — on cross-training days or light runs like the one below.
Go easy on the knees. For plyo benefits without the pounding, do leg-machine exercises like the single-leg press, hamstring curl, and leg extension (set to 45 degrees) with a quick movement up and controlled motion down. You can also do lunges to the side, front and back with a similar approach: Lunge with control, then finish with an explosive return back to start.
Put some bounce in your stride — and seriously crank up the calorie burn
Time (in minutes) Activity
0 to 3 Warm-up (light jog)
3 to 5 Dynamic stretches (see “takeoff” tip, above)
5 to 10 Run (moderate pace)
10 to 11 High skips (Aim to go as high as you can as you move forward, landing softly on balls of feet.)
11 to 16 Run (moderate pace)
16 to 17 Split squat jumps (Start in a low lunge and explore up, switching legs mid-air and landing with legs in opposite position.)
17 to 22 Run (moderate pace)
22 to 23 Bounding (Leap with every running stride, driving your knees forward as far as your stride allows.)
23 to 28 Run (moderate pace)
28 to 29 Tuck jumps (Stand with feet hip-width apart and jump, bringing knees toward chest; land lightly on balls of feet and immediately jump again.)
29 to 32 Cool-down (light jog)
32 to 35 Dynamic stretches (45 seconds each of leg swings to the side; straight-legged marches; slow-motion butt kicks, in which you briefly grab the toes of bent leg behind you; inchworms, where you bend to touch toes, then walk hands forward into a plank and walk the back to your feet)