Running and Jumping: Three Jumping Exercises That Can Improve Your Running

Lots of runners skip plyometrics for the same reason they skip strength training and stretching–because it’s not running. But running and jumping go hand in hand–and being a better jumper certainly makes you a better runner.

runner jumping

Here’s how I see the reluctant jumper–the pupils become little pinpricks as you contemplate that box jump. Your breath quickens as you approach, your arms pump back, you get ready to go, only to think:

“I’m supposed to do THAT? I cannot do that.”

[Insert more pacing and uncomfortable silence]

I’ve seen this game go down a hundred times. By the drama of it, you might think it was relating to:

  • Lifting 300 pounds
  • Running a five-minute mile
  • Swimming in a wetsuit in January

But this fear is something different. It’s box jumping and that 12-inch box might as well be 12 feet! But, it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t think you can do it…but you can!

You just need to be shown where and how to start. That’s exactly what I do here in this video. I give you the keys to one of your most powerful, hidden talents…YOUR ability to jump.

As runners, we are born jumpers! We have springs on our feet which allow the human being to do some pretty darn amazing stuff.

Yet, most of us NEVER tap into this gear. We don’t dare to try and we justify it to ourselves by saying how “it’s…well…probably not that important anyway.”

But, runners who don’t jump don’t develop their most powerful asset–their ability to spring and explode upwards with their whole body. Hip extension is the one thing that virtually brings all athletes together, and it’s the ONE THING that I see most runners lack.

So, what are the greatest benefits of jumping exercises for runners? Let us count the ways…

Key Benefits of Jumping

  • Jumping fosters muscle strength and promotes good muscle tone for both your lower and upper body.
  • It burns a ton of calories–about 800 calories per hour.
  • Jumping increases your bone density, which helps prevent stress fractures and osteoporosis.
  • You can do it nearly anywhere–a hotel, the gym, on the trail, or at the track.
  • It boosts your metabolism–during your workout and throughout the entire day.
  • Jumping adds variety to your workouts and helps prevent you from hitting plateaus.
  • It improves your coordination, no matter what sport or activity or participating in.
  • Jumping is fun! You get to experiment with different types of jumps and challenge yourself with how far and high you can go.

Let’s get started and get on our way to jumping exercises that will make you a stronger, faster runner.

1. The Squat Down Jump

This is a great place to start if you’re a runner who is new to jumping exercises and learn the mechanics of basic plyometrics. Also, if you’re a bit timid to jump onto things (like boxes), get comfortable here and gain some confidence first.

  1. Find a flat surface and sink down into a squat, keeping your back flat and your knees level over your toes.
  2. Lean forward and jump up, using your quads to power your jump and raising your hands up over your head.
  3. Sink right back down into another squat. Do five to seven squats.
  4. Rest for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat for three to five sets.

2. The Standing Broad Jump

Instead of just jumping straight up, this time you’ll be shifting your weight forward and explosively move forward. A good analogy is thinking of how a frog jumps ahead with force.

  1. Sink into a squat just like you did in the first exercise.
  2. Jump forward with power from your quads and hamstrings.
  3. Softly land right back into a squat, keeping your knees and hips stable.
  4. Start with a small jump, and experiment with seeing how far you can go.
  5. Do five to six jumps in a row. Take a 30 second to one-minute break, and repeat for three to five sets, depending on how you feel.

3. The Elevated Surface Jump

Now we’re ready to cook with gas and jump onto an elevated surface. It can be a park bench, a staircase, tires, or a box in the gym–whatever works where you are! Start with someone small, maybe six inches or so.

Then, work your way towards higher surfaces. Play with different heights and see how high you can comfortably go–have fun with it!

  1. Sink down into a squat.
  2. Jump forward the same way you did in the last exercise, but this time land on the surface in front of you.
  3. Jump back down to your starting position
  4. Repeat the jump five to six times. Rest for 30 seconds to one minute in between.
  5. Complete three to five sets.

What to Expect in Your Running

So, go through these three different jumping progressions and get started right now! Add these exercises in one to two times per week and you’ll almost immediately notice:

  • A more powerful, efficient stride
  • The ability to jump over obstacles in races or streams in a training run
  • A stronger finishing kick at the end of each race or workout
  • The ability to leap buildings in a single bound–just kidding!

You might not be Superman, but you’ll certainly feel more like him the next time you tackle your next run. It’s time to get jumping!

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