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The Big Bang

Four explosive exercises that will build the power, strength and speed needed to improve running performance

When you think about it, running is essentially jumping from one foot to another. Which is why adding a bit of plyometric training to your running regime can reap big rewards performance-wise. Plyometric exercise is, by definition, a stretch before an action. During the stretch phase energy is stored in the muscle so when the action phase happens there is more force or speed to the overall movement. This explosive part of the move recruits your fast-twitch muscle fibres, which according to a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise burn more calories – 11% more during exercise and 5% more after – than the same movements done without the plyometric element. So not only are you strengthening and conditioning your body, you’re also potentially shifting a bit of unwanted weight too. Bargain. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found integrating plyometric exercises into a training regime for as little as eight weeks showed noticeable improvements in endurance runners. To tap into these benefits you need to move through the exercises quickly to get those fast-twitch fibres firing. Try the following circuit (after a quick warm-up of course), performing four sets of eight reps on each exercise with just 30 seconds rest between each set. Start without the weights but when you progress up to them pick weights that are about 40% of what you’d usually use. If you can power through this workout two to three times a week you’ll soon start noticing the benefits to your running.

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About Men's Running

By the time you read this, the spring race season will be well and truly underway and those of you who have trained for a specific event will hopefully have seen the fruits of your labours in PBs and long-held goals achieved. Once you’ve completed a big event it’s understandable to want to take a few days off before running again. But sometimes those days can become weeks, the weeks months, and before you know it you’re no longer on talking terms with your trainers. To stop that from happening, we take a look at the opportunities open to runners who find themselves with all the fitness but not the focus. One obvious path is to take your running abroad. As any seasoned traveller will tell you, the best way to explore a location is by foot and that certainly proved to be the case for our writer, Simon, who decided to combine his passion for running with a life-long ambition to visit Cuba (page 34). If you fancy something closer to home you can utilise the very powerful bit of tech on your wrist to create some new training goals (page 48), or follow our expert advice on how to make the move from tarmac to trail (page 23). Or, if you’re already au fait with off-road, why not take a leaf out of Kilian Jornet’s book and run up Mount Everest (page 54)? For more inspiration on what to do with your current peak condition head over to and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.