11 Plyometric Exercises For Runners (With Explosive Workout)

If you’re a runner or thinking about starting, it’s vital you plan in regular strength training.

Running is incredibly high impact and so it’s really important you offset any muscle tightness, potential injuries or imbalances with proper care. 

Strength training will also really help your performance. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing sprints at the gym, long-distance runs or hill running – it all starts with strength.  

Below we go through some of the key areas you can work on for building strength as a runner. And we also have a fantastic workout which you can do using just a Plyo Jump Box Set.  

What muscles need to be strong for running? 

There’s no doubt about it, the main muscles used for running are in the lower body.  

So, your quads, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors and calves. 

Your upper body is also important, however. Running for a long time while maintaining poor posture for example, can produce its own set of problems. And having a weak lower back can cause issues with propulsion.  

But for speed, power and endurance, you really want to focus on your legs. Particularly around your hamstrings, hips and glutes as this is where your main driving force comes from. 

Why do plyometric training? 

Plyometric training is where you exert a large amount of energy in a very small amount of time. It’s most commonly associated with jumping but it can also refer to things like clap push ups and overhead throws with a slam ball. 

Plyometrics is particularly important for improving your speed and explosivity. And not just for running either. Doing plyometric exercises is just as important for things like weightlifting as well as competitive sports.  

It’s extremely effective for strength training and it’s also great for getting your heart rate up too. 

Man doing toe taps on a mirafit plyo box

Best plyo box exercises

We invited triathlete, personal trainer and physiotherapist Becky Hair into the Mirafit studio so that she could show us her best exercises using a plyo box.  

These exercises are particularly good for runners but they’re also great for anyone looking to build plyometrics into their training.  

And because this is a full body workout, it’s perfect for keeping everything balanced and strong. 

“Plyometrics is so important for us runners. It's what we are asking from our body every step of the way,” says Becky. 

“If we improve our ability to push off with power, then our propulsion is more efficient, more explosive and we can massively improve our speed. It’s something to incorporate regularly but be careful if coming back from an injury – make sure you're ready for it!” 

In the video, Becky takes you through the following exercises: 

  1. Glute activation step ups 
  2. Rocket jumps 
  3. Rapid fire toe taps 
  4. Basic box jumps 
  5. Lateral box jumps 
  6. Decline push ups with walk 
  7. Tricep dips 
  8. Glute bridges 
  9. Incline press ups 
  10. Drop to single leg 
  11. Drop with sprint 

Can plyometrics build muscle? 

Plyometrics can definitely help you build muscle. 

Like any other type of training, you need to make sure you’re lifting the right amount of weight to stimulate your muscles so that they adapt and grow. So, it’s important you keep an eye on how much weight you’re using while training so that you can keep up your progression. 

Remember while doing jumping style exercises, to use a ‘soft’ free weight such as a power bag or a slam ball

It’s also worth noting here, however, that doing plyometrics is about building explosivity. So, your focus should be on doing rapid, full body exertions and not necessarily on loading yourself down with loads of weight. 

It’s also a great way of focusing on your endurance which again will help with things like long-distance running.

If you are looking to build muscle in particular, check out our seven best compound lifts for better results.  

Man doing a box jump on a mirafit plyo box

Can plyometrics increase speed? 

This is exactly why you should be doing plyometric exercises. They are absolutely about building speed as well as acceleration.  

Some of the key exercises in the workout above for speed include: 

  • Glute activation step ups 
  • Rocket jumps 
  • Basic box jumps 
  • Lateral box jumps 
  • Drop to single leg 
  • Drop with sprint 

Doing these will really help you work on your speed and they are also good for hill sprints too. 

And if this is something you’re working on, make sure you include some barbell hip raises in your training. You can do these using a plyo box or a weight bench, as well as a weight bar and some bumper plates

They’re brilliant for targeting your hamstrings – which can be a common area for injury, especially in runners. And they are also great for strengthening your glutes and lower back. 

Mirafit ambassador Becky Hair doing a single leg squat on a plyo box holding an olympic barbell

Why is core strength important for running? 

And when doing your plyometric exercises, don’t forget to add in some core work. This is particular important for helping your posture as well as avoiding injury. It’s quite common for runners to twist their upper body as they accelerate. So, by working your abs and your back, you will be able to not only avoid any potential injuries but also get a more powerful sprint. 

Check out our 11 weight plate exercises for a solid core and add in a few extra exercises to your plyometric training. 

And finally, don’t forget you can find more fitness inspiration via our Instagram @MirafitOfficial.