Saunders, P. U., Pyne, D. B., Telford, R. D., Peltola, E. M., Cunningham, R. B., & Hawley, J. A. (2004). Nine Weeks of Plyometric Training Improves Running Economy in Highly Trained Distance Runners. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(5), Supplement abstract 1745.

This study investigated the effects of plyometric training on running economy in highly trained distance runners. Ss were assigned to either a plyometric training (N = 7) or control (N = 8) group for a 9-week period. Plyometric training consisted of 330 minute sessions per week. Running economy was assessed in both groups during sub-maximal treadmill runs at 14, 16, and 18 km/h for 4 minutes, before and after 5 and 9 weeks of the intervention period. Oxygen consumption (VO2), ventilation (VE), respiratory exchange ratio, stride rate, heart rate (HR), and blood lactate concentration were determined during the final 60 seconds of each sub-maximal run. Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) was measured before and after 9 weeks of the intervention. Strength and power characteristics were measured using jumping protocols on a portable, unidirectional ground reaction force plate at each time point and included jump height, average power, maximal rate of force development (RFD), time to reach RFD, maximal dynamic strength (MDS), time to reach MDS and take-off time.

VO2 was significantly lower at 18 km/h in the plyometric training group compared to the control group. There were no significant differences in any of the strength, power, cardiorespiratory measures, or VO2max as a result of plyometric training.

Nine weeks of plyometric training improved running at high running velocity in a group of highly trained distance runners. The absence of any changes in cardiorespiratory measures suggests that this improvement was not likely the result of decreased oxygen cost associated with VE and HR nor a change in substrate use. This suggests that a likely mechanism may lie with changes in the muscle and elastic tissue.

Implication. Plyometric training improves running economy only at higher running velocities in experienced distance runners.

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