Tag Archives: speed

Plyometrics – JUMP!


It’s Me!

Quick Update:

-Loving second semester of my Masters program! Always learning new things 😀

3 Months ++ of ZERO running (does running for the train count?)

What have I been up to since getting off running?

If you are wondering, I haven’t been sitting on my butt. I can’t sit still. 😛 I cannot NOT do anything. I’ve been doing heaps of body weight circuit training and cycling!

Most of the exerises that I do involve some sort of jumping. I find that it is a REALLY good way to get my heart rate up. Because I have plantar fasciitis, I’ve been incorporating it with a lot of care! I try not to aggravate it too much and have full days of rest + a lot of stretching + foam rolling the feet, calves, hips, butt, hamstrings (SO GOOD!)!

So, let’s talk PLYOMETRICS! Plyos have been a huge part of my training (lately). I love how my training has made a 180 degree change from pure running to pure circuit training. I’ve always been doing some sort of strength training (but it was never consistent). I found it REALLY hard to incorporate other forms of training when I was running. And I was not doing as much cross training as I should. Injury has forced me out of my comfort zone and I’m loving every bit of it!

IMG_4817Every time I start jumping, I remember why I chose running. 😉

If you can see the silver lining, amazing things can come from seemingly “bad” situations/conditions. It is all about perspective and how you deal with “failure” or “change”.

BACK to plyos.

Plyos involve a lot of quick EXPLOSIVE movements. Think jumping and bounding.Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

The goal is to get your muscles to exert MAXIMUM force (EXPLODE) in the shortest amount of time. This means going from eccentric contraction (muscle lengthening) to concentric contraction (muscle shortening) as fast as possible.

Imagine you are trying to jump onto a box. What do you do? You would bend your knees and lower your body slightly before trying to jump. That bending/lowering is basically the eccentric phase where your muscles are prestretched to store potential energy. The jump is then the concentric phase where you release all that stored up energy.

Plyos require a high amount of force, which can lead to stronger bones, joints, tendons and ligaments.


– Increases POWER & SPEED
-Increases ENDURANCE
-Increases intermuscular coordination and neural drive = Strength and efficiency
-Reduces landing force
-Improved dynamic balance in older people
-Weight bearing = stronger bones (increase in bone mass)
-Decrease risk of ACL injuries
-Better static and dynamic stability
-Aerobic capacity – increasing blood lactate, heart rate and oxygen consumption



IMG_3338-Jumps (box jumps, squat jumps, jump lunges, tuck jumps, broad jumps)

IMG_2068-Hops (single leg hops)


-Death jumps

-Plyo push ups


Pick and mix! You can do a few sets with a definite amount of reps or set the timer (30 seconds work:30 seconds rest etc). You can alternate between plyo and non-plyo moves for active recovery in between each move.

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-Plyos are an advanced form of training (athletes). Make sure you have a good fitness base, flexibility, strength, coordination and range of movement.

-Make sure you warm up for at lesat 15-20 minutes before any form of exercise (esp plyos)

Start slow from lower intensity movements before progressing into more explosive and advance movements

-Engage muscles

-Ensure proper biomechanics while performing every movement




NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 4th edn 2012 (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins)



Feature: The Ultimate Running Programme

Don’t forget your heart, the most important muscle!


Special thanks to Axtrosports for this feature! Click here for the FULL ARTICLE. This is just my part on running. ENJOY!


We are grateful to have Adele Wong from www.adeleruns.com to share with us a surefire way to whip your heart into shape.

Why Run?

Running is a great workout that can be your staple-go-to healthy activity or thrown in to complement other training regimes that you might have. Running boasts many health benefits, including improving the cardiovascular system (heart, lungs, vessels), strengthens bones, lowers cholesterol levels, releases stress, increases metabolism and helps with weight loss!IMG_4966

If you’re just starting out, your main focus should be on consistency. Commit to a few days of running a week and make it sustainable by picking your preferred time and place.

Week 1-4

The focus for these weeks would be to make running a habit and to build a strong base for more structured workouts.

You can start by running 25-30 minutes, 3 times a week. Monitor how you feel after each run. When 30 minutes becomes too comfortable, you can add 5-10minutes and eventually, being able to run for 50-60 minutes with ease.

At this stage, you can forget about distance and pace. Instead, focus on how you feel. On a scale of 0-100%, you should be running at 70-80% of your effort. Don’t worry, you will get a better gauge of how you feel when you start to run a little more!

Week 4 Onwards

Once you get stronger with a good base, you can spice up your running regime by adding some “fun” and structured workouts. This is where you can work on developing speed and endurance.10356340_10204293752563578_8230519310562349253_n


Let’s talk about adding interval training to your running routine. Without getting too technical, interval training is alternating between bouts of high intensity effort and low intensity effort. The duration, recovery time and effort level of each bout depends highly on which physiological system (cardiovascular, muscle strength, nervous system, anaerobic system etc) you want to work on.

Some Great Routines

Short Sprints

10 x 100m sprints with 2-3 mins of recoveryIMG_1446

As you get fitter, work on increasing reps and distance up to 200m. Keep your running time to less than 1 minute.

Hill Sprints

10 x 30 seconds up a steep hill with a jog down for recoveryIMG_2065

As with short sprints, work on increasing reps.

*Short sprints and hill sprints stimulate the nervous system and works on strengthening your muscles.

Long Hill Repeats

8-10 x 60-90 seconds up a gradual incline with a jog down for recovery

IMG_2092Work on increasing reps.

This workout works on muscle fibres that are needed in middle distance running (1km-10km).

Other Routines

6-8 x 400m with 2-5 minutes of recovery (@ mile pace)

4-6 x 600m with 2-5 minutes of recoveryIMG_1448

1 km @ 5km pace | 3-5 x 800m with 2-5 minutes of recovery (10km pace) | 1km @ 5km pace

5 x 1km with 3-5 minutes of recovery

2 minutes x 6 with 2 minutes of recovery

10 x 30 seconds with 30 seconds of recovery

The combinations are endless! You can even do a combination of 5 x 1km finishing with 5 x 400m or 3 sets of 100m, 200m, 300, 400m, 300m, 200m, 100m. As mentioned previously, the effort, duration and recovery time depends on which physiological system you intend to work on.

In general, if you want to work on:

Improving the pace over longer distances (speed endurance): the recovery interval can slowly be shorten/equal to the running time

Getting used to the increased pace by stimulating the nervous system: 3-5 minutes of recovery depending on the length of running time

Anaerobic system: the recovery time should be twice the amount of running time to allow for full recovery and anaerobic products to be cleared.

Try adding any 1 of these structured running workouts once a week on top of your usual 3-5 days of easy running. As your body gets used to the stress of heavier workouts, you can start adding 2 structured workouts a week!

Running is so versatile! Mix it up and have some fun!

7 Ways to a Faster YOU!

This is the article I wrote for Healthworks.my ! If you have already read it on their website, just scroll through to view the pictures.

Do check out Healthworks.my and like their Facebook page. It is your one-stop-place for everything health, lifestyle and fitness!


You’ve been running steadily for several months, you’ve taken part in numerous running events and now, you want to take it to the next level. We’re talking about performance and speed because we all want to be the next Usain Bolt, right?

  1. Speed Work

The obvious thing to do if you want to run faster would be to throw in speed work into your training sessions.



They improve your VO2 max – the maximum volume of oxygen that your blood can deliver to your muscles when running at high speed.

Higher VO2 max > More oxygen delivered to working muscles > Increase in the production of ATP > Greater muscle contraction > Run Faster

Running puts a certain amount of stress on the body. Thankfully, humans are highly adaptable and we are able to learn and change to better handle that stress in the future. Remember how hard it was when you first started running – your breathing was all over the place, your heart felt like it was going to explode and your limbs had a mind of its own – but you continued anyway? And then a few weeks later you realised that running is the easiest thing in the world. That is because your body adapted to the “stress”.

It applies to speed work as well! Runners improve most when they occasionally overload their system and train at a particular speed. Your neuromuscular system, heart and lungs adapt to allow you to run efficiently at higher speeds.

Take Note: Start by Adding One Session A Week

Adding too much too soon is always a recipe for disaster. Instead of adaptation, your body enters the exhaustion stage and you will burnout, develop injuries and fail to recover. Start by adding one speed session a week to your normal training. For the regular runner, 3 speed sessions per week is enough to get you that much faster!



  • Try 5 x 400m/5 x 800m/5 x 1KM at interval pace.
  • Rest for about 1-2 minutes in between each bout (Rest time depends on individual fitness).
  • Interval pace is hard running and talking is almost impossible.
  • It is about 90-100% effort.
  1. Plyometric Training

When you think of running, the last thing that comes to mind is probably strength training and plyometrics. However, these two have been known to enhance running performance. Plyometrics include high intensity, high impact drills like jumping and hopping.


Plyometric training improves what is known as the Stretch-shortening Cycle (SSC). The SSC is the transition between the eccentric and concentric muscle contraction and how elastic energy is harnessed to help with force production.

Running is a series of eccentric and concentric contraction. What you want is the concentric contraction to follow closely after the eccentric contraction. If there is a long pause between the two contractions, the captured energy is loss.



Hill sprints and jump combo? Hahaha! Kidding, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

What You Need To Know

Plyometric training > Quick SSC > Less energy and oxygen is needed to produce the same level of force > Run Faster

Take Note: Do Once A Week 

Plyometric training comes with a relatively high risk of injury. Novice runners are not advised to attempt these drills. Unless you are very experienced, plyometrics should only be done once a week. Never do them on days of high volume training.


1-2 sets of:

  • 15-20 box jumps
  • 15-20 jump squats
  • 15-20 jump lunges
  • 15-20 single leg hops
  • 5 sets of 50m hill sprints
  • Proper form is KEY to avoiding injury.
  • Consult a fitness/running professional before attempting any of these drills.
  1. Get Rid of That FAT

No doubt runners come in all shapes and sizes. Take a look at the elite pack and you will see a variety in physical proportions. However, they all have one thing in common – nearly all of them have a low body fat percentage. In other words – lean.

A study done in 2006 demonstrated that body fat is a good predictor of athletic performance [1].  The best runners have the leanest legs!

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Close enough.

Not all fat is bad fat, but storage fat is “dead weight”

Our bodies have storage fat and essential fat. Essential fat is the kind that is needed to sustain life. These are stored in the vital organs, the bone marrow as well as muscles and tissues of the central nervous system. Storage fat is stored in adipose tissue, found around the abdominal area, buttocks, hips and under the skin. The more we eat, the more fat we store and it becomes our energy reserve. However, storage fat is not essential for health and too much of it increases the risk of certain diseases.

When we talk about running, storage fat is considered “dead weight” which would only add to the energy cost of running.

Finding The Right Amount of Fat

Determining your optimal body composition is a tough one. Having too much or too little of fat can be detrimental to health. Thanks to our modern lifestyle – increased accessibility of food coupled with our sedentary lifestyle – it is unlikely that we have too little fat for optimal performance. You can gauge your optimal fat percentage by tracking performance. Your body composition at your peak performance is likely to be your optimal body fat composition.

What You Can Do

Move more and eat sensibly > Lower Body Fat Percentage > Run Faster

  1. Be Feather Light

If you are having trouble with lowering your body fat, your best bet would be to lower the weight of everything else that you have on you when you run!

Go light on the run. This includes your top, shorts and shoes. A study performed in 2010 found that it was more economical to run barefoot as compared to shod running [2].


This basically means that the weight of the shoe could add to the energy cost of running. This does not mean that you have to become a barefoot runner overnight in order to improve running performance. Just opt for light weight shoes.

As for running apparel, go for technical wear that wicks sweat away from your body. Normal cotton tops absorb sweat and can add to the weight when you run.

In short, go light >run faster

  1. Get A Caffeine Fix

This is probably what all coffee addicts want to hear – YES, coffee is a legal performance enhancer! Many elite athletes rely on their morning cuppa, so there is good reason why you should too!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetAlmond latte! SO GOOD!

Coffee has been known to give you that mental boost, improves mental alertness and reduces a runner’s perception of effort. When you’re able to focus coupled with the fact that running faster would feel easier, you can be sure to finish with a new Personal Best!

Physiologically, caffeine enhances neuromuscular coordination – the speed at which nerve signals are sent to the muscles from the brain – and reaction time. With more signals firing at your muscles, you will be more efficient, running faster with more force and less effort.

The benefits of caffeine have been proven out on the field. One study found that runners who took caffeine before a 5KM run performed better than running without caffeine [3].


Source: media-cdn.tripadvisor.com

How Much: 400mg or 4 Cups

Before you start chugging down on a giant cup of coffee, there is such a thing as caffeine overdose. Although coffee can be part of your healthy diet (as they are rich in antioxidants), moderation is always key.

According to the FDA, a safe and healthy amount of caffeine a day is about 400mg or 4 cups.

People react differently to caffeine (tremors, palpitations, stomach upset, irritability etc), so experiment with it during your training before you attempt to take caffeine on race day! Caffeine is absorbed quickly and it can last pretty long. You can take it 30-45 minutes prior to toeing the start line.


Affogato anyone?

Whether coffee is used to get you out the door, out of bed or make you run that much faster – it works!

Drink a cuppa > Run faster

  1. Strengthen The Core

The core is the center of the body which holds everything in place and it includes all the muscles which help you to maintain posture. These muscles are found on the abdomen, back and around your hips.


The Problem: Postural and Muscle Imbalances

The thing about runners is that we tend to neglect strength training. Most of our time is spent logging in the miles. Over time, we develop postural and muscle imbalances. These occur between the muscles that we use all the time (lower body) and the muscles that remain idle (upper body).

Weaker muscles/muscle imbalances may force other muscles to compensate for their lack of function, leading to injury (lower back, knees) and pain.


Why It Matters: Helps Hold Proper Running Form

A strong core would mean that you are more likely to hold proper running form for a longer period of time. This is especially useful when it comes to distance running. Also, by strengthening these muscles, weight stress from the upper body on the legs can be evenly distributed and reduced. This will then reduce the risk of injury, allowing you to run longer and harder.

A strong core keeps you in place, preventing unnecessary swinging/swaying which goes to improve your running economy = faster times.

What You Need to Do: Strengthen Your Core

With this in mind, what you need to do next is to strengthen your CORE. Stretching and strengthening the muscles overall can restore muscle balance.

The Basic: Plank

If you have absolutely no time and are extremely lazy, the plank would be your best bet. It works nearly every muscle in your body from your arms to your core right down to your legs.


  • Keep your back straight
  • Keep your elbows below your shoulders
  • Suck your belly in, keep it tight
  • Do not let your hips sink
  • Plank every day for 1 minute and then move on to 2, 3, 4… and see how long you can hold it without compromising on form and technique!

Strengthen core > Run faster

  1. Believe That You Can Do It

And if all else fails, just believe that you can do it! The brain is the ultimate conductor, regulating running performance in response to the signals that it receives from the body. The brain always acts in your favour – to protect your body. It does so by slowing you down before you hurt yourself due to loss of homeostasis or from becoming prematurely fatigued.


However, you can change the decision made by the brain in response to these inputs. This is where motivation, expectation and the simple belief that you can do it come into play. For example, you will most likely tolerate a greater degree of discomfort if there is an incentive (money, fame, PB, medal etc).

At the end of the day, physiology still wins. You have to be capable physiologically before you can psychologically believe yourself into better running performance. You are able to psychologically push yourself to the max, accessing all available reserves till the point that is just before death. If you haven’t pushed yourself or ran till you felt like dying, it is likely that you have not unleased your ultimate running potential.


In short, Motivation and Belief >Usain Bolt


Source: Instagram

Before your next big running event, try these “faster running” tips and see how it goes!