Jump to Sprint Faster

Printed with permission from the Cooper Institute.

Looking for ways to increase speed has led to a wide range of training methods and research on each method. Some of these training methods include weight training, form running, speed drills, uphill or downhill running, resistance running and plyometric training. Plyometric training is simply jump training that involves rapid and explosive movements like jumping or throwing a medicine ball. This type of jump training is done to increase the ability to produce maximal force in a very short period of time by lengthening a muscle and afterwards shortening it quickly. Some of these movements include things such as jumping, hopping, kicking or skipping – many of the things done while playing as a kid.

Many of the jumping activities that come to mind from playing as a kid involve jumping higher – but jumping higher may not necessarily equal sprinting faster. Sprinting requires an individual to move horizontally faster and thus training activities should replicate this type of movement. Research has commonly looked at plyometrics for jumping higher, but research on faster sprinting from plyometrics has had mixed findings.

Recently, study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked at all of the current studies and combined the results of these 26 studies. After analyzing all of the results, the study “concluded that plyometric training seems to be an effective training method for the improvement of sprint performance (1).”

How to apply these results:
When implementing a plyometric training program based on the findings of the above mentioned research, the following were found to be important factors:

  • When to perform: Plyometric training can be performed by itself or with a weight training workout as research found no significant difference in either of these settings. Alhough, it is important to perform when the body is fresh to ensure proper quality and safety.
  • Program duration: Results found that training between 6 and 8 weeks with 3 to 4 sessions per week was more beneficial than similar programs of longer duration.
  • Volume and intensity of training: Training at a high intensity with greater than 80 jumps per session was found in the research to be the strategy that will maximize one’s probability of obtaining improvements. While training at high volumes and high intensity, it is still important to remember that quality and safety should still be the most important factor.
  • Type of exercises: To have the most transfer to sprint performance, jumping exercises that require individuals to move their body horizontally through jumping is suggested. Examples of these types of exercises include: bounding, horizontal single leg hops, and broad jumps. Share other horizontal jumping exercises you use on our Facebook page.

As you implement jumping activities that require horizontal acceleration of the body to improve your jump performance, remember that safety should always be your number one consideration – never sacrifice safety or form for more work.

1 Villarreal, ES, Requena, B, Crown, JB. The Effects of Plyometric Training on Spring Performance: A Meta-Analysis. J Strength Cond Res 26: 575-584, 2012. 

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