6 Moves To Build Springiness & Strength
A plan that involves only running can carry you through five kilometres – but for a strong, speedy performance, you need to build springiness, or what experts call “reactive strength.”
“When your foot hits the ground, the more elastic or reactive you are, the better you’re able to spring off without losing any energy,” says strength and conditioning coach Kris Beattie, from Limerick, Ireland. In a new study, he put runners through a 40-week program incorporating reactive strength exercises. The result? Increased running economy, or the ability to use oxygen efficiently and therefore run faster.
Reactive-strength training also protects against injury, but requires ongoing maintenance – the study’s control group, which did run training only, lost reactive strength over the same period of time.
Fortunately, you don’t need a complex program of skips and bounds. Rather, Beattie says, runners benefit most from two simple moves that progress over time, combined with strengthening and stabilising exercises.
Do this routine twice a week during your 5K training, preferably on the same day as a hard workout or long run.
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Adjust these moves every few weeks to build springiness.
Weeks 1-3: With feet hip-width apart, jump at about 70 percent max effort. Land quietly on straight legs, freeze a moment, then jump again. Do three sets of eight jumps.
Weeks 4-6: Repeat, but lean forward to travel a few feet with each jump.
Weeks 7-9: Go back to stationary jumps, but do them quickly and jump as high as you can. Do three sets of three.
Weeks 8-12: Take your jumps slightly forward, jumping as high and as fast as you can. Do three sets of five.
Recover for two to three minutes between sets of hops and jumps: You’ll be feeling them in your calves.
Weeks 1-3: Stand on your right leg and hop up. Land quietly, keeping your leg straight, and repeat. Do three sets of eight per leg.
Weeks 4-6: Repeat, but lean forward to travel a few feet with each hop.
Weeks 7-9: Return to stationary hops, but do them quickly and jump as high as you can. Do three sets of three per leg.
Weeks 8-12: Take your hops slightly forward, jumping as high and as fast as you can. Do three sets of five per leg.
Build strength: Do these moves after jumping and hopping as a continuous circuit, three times.
Lie on your back with feet hip-width apart. Press into your heels and lift your hips until your knees are bent 45 degrees. Hold for 20 seconds in week 1; add five seconds each week. Once you reach 45 seconds, drop to 30 and do single-leg bridges, resting your hands on your hips to ensure that they stay level.
Rise up on your elbows and toes with your feet apart. Keep your core tight and your shoulders above your elbows. Hold for 20 seconds in week 1; add five seconds each week. Once you reach 45 seconds, drop to 20 and alternate lifting your left arm and right leg, then your right arm and left leg, for a few seconds each.
Rise up on your left elbow with your legs straight, core tight, and right arm up. Hold for 20 seconds in week 1; add five seconds each week. Repeat on the right. Once you reach 45 seconds, drop to 20 and lift and lower your top leg as you hold.
Step your left foot directly forward. Lower, then push through your left heel to rise (without bringing your feet back together as you would in a lunge). Do 12 reps, then repeat on the opposite leg. In weeks 7 through 12, progress to a reverse lunge.