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Strength Training, Part III: Plyometrics

It might sound odd, but plyometrics are another movement on the fringe of strength training that can be used for injury prevention for those athletes with a long-term outlook. This is because plyos, in theory, can help support bone health. And, maybe, they might actually make us run faster too.

Why is bone health important to triathletes? We know that swimmers, bikers, and runners generally have bad bone health. Sure, you’ve likely been told that runners have better bone health that swimmers and bikers. This is relative, and runners’ bones are generally not that great either. Unfortunately, we know very little about triathletes in this regard and we have to aggregate the data from the individual sports and draw some conclusions. Its worth noting that this is not a female issue exclusively, as it applies to men as well.

The proposed solution is that we add plyometrics to mimic the movements of sports that have athletes with good bone health, like basketball players and gymnasts. These athletes play sports that involves jumping and landing with an impact at varied angles in different planes of motion (i.e. side to side and front to back and diagonal) with longer rest periods in between landings, relative to runners whose feet strike 80 to 90 times per minute.

Let’s again be clear that it is just a theory that plyos will help bone health because they mimic other sports that help bone health. In reality, people have not been doing plyos for long enough for anyone to conduct a proper study on the effect they have on bone health.

There is also a theory, rooted perhaps in more science than the one above, that plyos actually help improve run economy. They do this by improving how quickly your muscles and connective tissue spring back after the foot makes contact to the ground.

Is it a sure thing that plyos make you faster and improve bone health? Nope. But for a time commitment of a few minutes each week, we’re willing to take that chance and add it in as part of our strength training protocol.

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