Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Welcome to the Coach’s blog, powered by Dillman Coaching. I’ve been racing at the elite level of Cyclocross, MTB and Road for about a decade and want to share the knowledge I’ve gained from racing and training with those who are willing to listen. This is where I do that.
In the last 2 posts, #8: Gym Part 1 & #9: Gym Part 2 I talked about the gym and how to incorporate strength training into your cycling focused training plan. I even created a chart to show how to plan your Annual Training Plan for both Cycling and Strength simultaneously. To better understand this balance I’d recommend checking out both of those posts.
In this post I want to tackle another type of cross training I have always enjoyed adding to my own fitness plan: Plyometrics.
What is Plyometrics Training
As defined by my good friend Merriam-Webster, Plyometric training is a type of “exercise involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (as by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power.” Simply stated, Plyometrics is you jumping up and down. Plyometrics involve a lot of jumping, balancing, skipping, running and hopping which forces us to work on our power, focus and coordination. Ed Burke in his book Off Season Training says that “Plyometric training overloads the muscles via jumping movements and improves strength, speed and explosive power.”
Plyometrics training offers a lot of the same benefits as strength training in a gym, but with less risk. Since you are only using your own body weight during a plyometrics workout you don’t have to worry about how much weight to lift or how many reps to do during a workout. Which eliminates the risk of over-lifting and potentially causing injuries.
How to Mix in Plyometrics Training
If you’ve read my previous blogs on strength training or #6: Running then you understand that balancing cycling and cross-training can be a bit complicated. And trying to add another thing into the mix can sometimes make it even more difficult. Typically I add Plyometrics training to an athletes schedule as a substitution for strength training in a gym. It accomplishes a lot of the same goals as a gym workout and even has some other benefits as well. The explosive nature of plyometrics better mimics the rapid movements of our pedal stroke during a hard training day or race.
For younger athletes I will prescribe plyometrics workouts instead of gym workouts because it still offers them a form of cross-training without the over-straining of a gym workout. This is important for young adults who are not fully developed as gym workouts could cause problems with their development.
The winter and spring months are for the gym; the summer and fall months are for plyometrics. I use plyometrics workouts as a pre-CX season form of training. This works well with the time of year as well. This means I’m doing these workouts from July-October and will stop when the weather gets too cold or when racing increases. I try to get out for early morning jogs to the local high school where I will do a plyometrics workout on the football field as the sun is rising. I find this best because I’m missing the heat of the day and I have enough time to recover before a ride later in the day. Or if you work during the day you can squeeze a plyometrics workout in before work and a bike ride after work. And there is something energizing about getting our for a workout before the sun rises. It makes you think to yourself, “I’m already working out when most people (including my competition) are still snoozing.”
Early mornings spent on the football field doing plyometrics and running bleachers takes me back to the Montana CX Summer Camp, which was the first CX Camp of its type to be introduced into the US. Many European countries have been implementing the CX Summer Camp for years to get riders focused on Cyclocross specific skills and to introduce them to new forms of cross-training during the summer before CX racing actually begins. I was fortunate enough to be invited by Geoff Proctor to several of these Montana CX Camps and I gained a lot valuable information and skills during these camps; one of these being Plyometrics training.
Listed below is a sample workout I use when I do Plyometrics:
Warm-Up: 10min Jog
Set 1: Rotate all these workouts for 1min each with 30sec rest between:
Forward Long Jumps – Jumping, feet shoulder length apart, as far forward as possible. Plant feet on ground before starting next jump.
Forward Lateral Jumps – Long jumps from side-to-side, landing and launching with one foot and moving forward.Takes a lot of balance.
Backward Lateral Jumps – Same as #2 but moving backwards.
Squat Jumps – Squat down into a “TT” position with elbows together and just above your knees. Jump forward, backwards and side-to-side, making a plus sign on the ground.
Plank – Good to mix in some core and upper body to give your legs a little recovery.
Burpees – Everybody hates em, but they are so good!
High Knees – Focus on speed and height.
One Leg Jumps – Find a line on the ground and jump side-to-side over the line with one leg at a time. Switch legs after 30sec.
Power Skip – Focus on vertical height and powerful take-offs.
Cool Down: 10min jog or spin
Once you feel comfortable doing these 12 workouts, you can add on a 2nd set after a couple minutes of rest.
Riding your bike can get old after a while. One of the biggest benefits of cross-training is the diversity it can add to a monotonous training schedule. Mixing in 1 or 2 plyometrics workouts throughout your weekly plan could not only give you increases in strength and coordination, but could also be just the right thing to keep you motivated for training.
If you have any further questions about plyometrics training and how to incorporate them into your training plan, I encourage you to shoot me message through the contact page. If you are also interested in Dillman Coaching and would like to jump on a phone call to talk about it then I would also encourage you to shoot me a message so we can get it set up.