Plyometric Training for Runners – The 5 Plyo Exercises You Need

As a runner, I spend most of my time training in one plane of motion, what’s known as the sagittal plane, usually performing the same repetitive movement.

So, to keep my body stabilized, improve balance, and enhance coordination, I try to do as many cross-training workouts that uses all planes of motion as possible.

These include the frontal plane, the side-to-side motion (think jumping jacks), as well as the traverse plane,  rotational motion (swinging a baseball bat for instance).

One of my favorite training methods for this is plyometric, training. This type of training is typically used to enhance athletic performance, but can also provide many handy benefits for runners.

In today’s post, I’ll talk about why runners need plyo training as well as how to add it to your training routine.

Are you ready?

Let’s get this ball rolling.

Plyometric Training Demystified

Whether you’re chasing a new 5K race PB, or you’d just like to get into a better shape, plyometric training should be part of your exercise routine.

Also known as jump training, plyometrics build explosive strength using natural dynamic movements such as jumping, bounding, hopping, and skipping. This type of training improves explosiveness, body control, and power. In fact, the gains you can make from plyo training can quickly transfer to better running performance. And that’s a good thing if you ask me.

Plyometric training can take many forms, depending on your fitness level, training goals, and personal preferences.

Why Plyometric Training

Plyometric training provides a hefty amount of benefits that make it worthy of your time. This type of training is key for sports that require lots of sudden burst of activity. That’s the case whether it’s jumping, changing direction, sprinting, etc.

Runners can also benefit a lot from plyometric training, and there are plenty of studies that support its effectiveness. Some of the well-noted research papers include:

  • Study I
  • Study II
  • Study III
  • Study IV

Even if weight loss is what you’re after, plyometric training can surely help. Most of plyo exercises are full body moves, requiring every bit of effort you can muster. That, in turn, raises your heart rate through the roof and increases both your calorie burn and metabolism.

How to Plyo Train

It’s key to have a solid base of total body endurance and strength and good form before you attempt any of the exercises shared below.

As a rule, spend at least a few months doing total body exercises. Some of the options include squats, deadlifts, push-ups, lunges, and planks.

The 5 Plyo Exercises You Need

If I could describe five exercises that will drastically improve your total body endurance and power while running, these would be it. These are the best because they’re convenient, easy to master, effective, and yield great results.

I recommend performing the following exercises twice a week after a solid dynamic warmup like the one I shared here. Also, perform the routine on your non-running days since explosive training requires so much focused energy and effort.

Perform each exercise for 8 to 12 reps, each. Then, rest and repeat one more time before moving to the rest of the routine. To keep things challenging and interesting, change up the order of the exercises each time you do the workout.

1. Dumbbell Squat Jumps

Begin by grabbing a pair of dumbbells in each hand so that your palms are facing the midline of your body while standing feet hip-width apart.

Next, as you keep your chest raised and spine long, lower your butt down to full squat position. Then, explosively press your feet into the ground, and jump as high as you can.

Land softly with knees bent, then immediately squat down and jump again.

2. Medicine Ball Slam

Start by assuming an athletic stance, feet shoulder width apart, with the med ball directly overhead or tucked behind your head. Next, reach as far as you can, then explosively swing your arms downward to slam the ball to the floor in front of you as hard as you can.

Last up, squat down, pick up the ball and repeat as fast as you can without losing form.

3. 180-bounds

Begin by standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Next, lower slightly into a squat by bending your knees and hips, then jump forward while turning 180 degrees.

Land softly in an athletic position facing the opposite direction. Then immediately explode upward, and turn 180 degrees in opposite direction, returning to starting position.

4. Box Jumps

Stand in front of a sturdy and secure box that’s at least one to two feet high, with feet directly under your hips and hands by your side.

Next, while keeping your back straight and head up, squat downward by bending at the knees and hips, then leap onto the box with a soft landing, swinging your arms forward for momentum.

Last up, jump backward off the box, reset your feet, then immediately jump back. That’s one rep.

5. Bench Taps

For this exercise, feel free to use a bench, box, or a chair if that’s all you have.

Begin by standing in front of a bench with feet shoulder width apart and both on the floor, hands on hips or by your sides.

Next, while keeping your core engaged and back flat, rapidly alternate tapping the top of the bench with each foot, all the while staying light on the toes for extra agility.

Perform 30 to 40 taps.


There you have it! The above plyometric exercises are fantastic for helping you boost your athletic power and improve your running performance like nothing else.

Now it’s your turn. Do you do any type of cross training? Are plyometrics on your list?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep running Strong

David D.

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