Thursday, January 13, 2011

Plyometrics and the Triathlete

After 80 days of P90X, Plyometrics has become one of my favorite routines.

But having a specific goal in mind, I set out to do a little informal research on the benefits of Plyo for the triathlete.  Here's what I've learned.

First off, what exactly, is Plyometrics?  Plyo refers to exercise that enables the muscle to reach maximum force in the shortest period of time.  The muscle is loaded with a lengthening action followed immediately by a shortening action.

Muscles and tendons have an elastic type nature to them. Body moments involved in activities such as running, and to some extent in cycling, use the elastic nature of muscles and tendons to store energy and then release it like much like a rubber band to propel the body forward. This is known as the stretch shortening cycle.

This cycle is evident primarily in the cycling and running portion of the triathlon.

Run cadence and cycling cadence are key factors when determining efficiency in triathletes, along with distance per stroke. On the bike we try to maintain a cadence of 85-95 rpm in order to keep our legs turning over quickly. Run cadence actually closely matches cycling cadence, as the most efficient athletes try to maintain that 90 rpm cadence.

There are a host of Plyo exercises that help you improve your running and cycling cadence.  Work these into your regular schedule or training program and the results you see will substantial.

I have personally found that the P90X Plyometrics routine has improved both my running and cycling cadence.  I ran the fastest 5 mile run on Thanksgiving Day and every long run since starting the program has been faster and stronger plus my bike speed has increased by 3-4 mph (albeit on the trainer so I can wait to test the improvement on solid road).

P90X Plyo is a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. I always find myself looking forward to the day when I can do this.  It is recommended that no more than two times per week.  On the mornings when Plyo is scheduled (like tomorrow), it takes no second thought or a hit of the snooze button on the alarm clock to get out of bed.

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  1. Your zeal for the plyometrics workout is encouraging. I skipped it last week, so this was my first one. I had to stop at one point to keep from puking!

  2. I have been having my son do plyometrics as well as lifting for high school football. I should help improve his speed and explosiveness on the field.