Workout Wednesday: Plyometrics Progressions

If there is one thing that sprint and speed coaches can always learn more of for the benefit of their athletes, it is the correct implementation of plyometric training.

Plyometric work provides one of the most fundamental overloads to the central nervous system and muscle-tendon complex.  I'm excited today to have Ryan Banta chat about how he utilizes a yearly periodization program for the sake of improving sprint speed and power.

Using only one plyometric scheme and emphasis year round can yield burnout, and limited results, so it's always helpful to have guideposts during the training process.  With that said, let's get started on Ryan's thoughts on year round plyometric implementation for sprint athletes!

Missouri MileSplit: Talk about your yearly periodization scheme in the implementation of plyometric exercises

Ryan Banta: Training an athlete with a global periodization scheme, I feel it is important to link training modalities together with the different themes of the season and to maximize the adaptations you are trying to exploit in training.

In a concurrent periodization model, you are creating training for different biomotor abilities through multiple means of training. The first three weeks of the annual plan I tend to avoid specifically dedicated plyometric sessions to allow the athletes to adjust back into training. Remember sprinting at high speeds is plyometric training and some biomechanical drills have stretch shortening components.

I like to train athletes from a global perspective, keeping training fresh and moving forward in some different methods simultaneously. I find it valuable to start with simple in place jumps to help develop a sprinter's trigger, aka their ankle complex.

Novice athletes need to learn how to land and the experienced ones need reminding. There is no purpose in moving the athlete forward beyond the simple jumps if they cannot land correctly. Some athletes will progress quickly, and an experienced coach should feel comfortable moving them forward into more challenging plyometric drills.

Ankles need to have the ability to be stiff when the situation calls. Ankles at the same time need the proper amount of suppleness. We currently have a young athlete with ankles severely locked. As they run, you can hear a Boom, Boom, Bang with her cadence. Not only is the athlete landing too hard but the bang on the third step is a pre-indicator for an imbalance in a sprinter's gait. These sounds could spell disaster if not taken seriously.

If you listen, you can learn a lot about an athlete as they run past you without even looking at them (more on this topic can be found chapter 9 in The Sprinter's Compendium). I am going to prescribe a lot of in place jumping including jumping rope to unlock their ankles.  I tend to couple this training with hypertrophy work in the weight room. In addition to hypertrophy work adding horsepower, increased anatomical leverage, and a cross-section of muscle, it also improves connective tissue. Ligaments along with tendons have a chance to develop both with the in place jumps and hypertrophic strength training. If an athlete is ready to move on we, then ramp up the intensity and volume in the concurrent model.  Increased intensity and volume comes during specific preparation phase.