Man running on a forest trail with yellow shoes and stockings

Improve your agility, speed, coordination, and balance for your next run.

Paved running surfaces, such as roads and sidewalks are flat, steady, and for the most part, predictable. Trails, by nature, are usually not.

With trail running, every step is different. You may have to jump over tree roots, run over a rock or slippery moss, and your body must stabilize itself on each type of terrain.

Trail running itself is like a miniature plyometric training session: you leap over a stream, change your footfalls to avoid obstacles, and learn to land on rocks by adding mini jumps into your run. While this provides an exciting twist to a typical run, it also presents a considerable challenge to your body. Even running downhill can be tough because it forces your body to absorb an immense amount of pounding.

That’s why adding cross training to your workout routine, specifically plyometric training, can be beneficial to trail runners.

It’s a great way to strengthen your muscles, ligaments, and tendons that help to keep you upright and handle the impact from all directions. It’s a perfect complement to the demands of trail running.

Try these cross-training exercises in the gym to improve your agility, speed, coordination, and balance. By integrating the right moves, you may overcome muscular imbalances that could lead to injury and still improve your overall coordination and control.

On the Plyo Box

Basic Box Jumps: Add explosive power to your trail runs. Focus on jumping onto the box in one quick, explosive movement. According to ACE Fitness, this is the correct way to execute a box jump.

  1. Begin in a deep squat position with a step or sturdy platform or box in front and arms bent next to the sides of the body.
  2. Swing the arms and jump as high as possible, landing quietly and with control in a squat position on the step. Both feet should land at the same time, and weight should stay in the heels.

Box Jump with 180 Rotational Jumps: Once you’ve mastered the basic box jump, you can practice advanced agility. Jump on the box, jump off the other side, do a 180 rotational jump and return.

Box Jump Burpees: This is the same as the 180 Rotational Jumps, with an added burpee.

Box Depth Jumps: This plyometric variation prepares the body to absorb force while you’re running downhill on your favorite trail. First, step on to the box or bench. Squat to transfer power into your legs, then power off the bench with the balls of your feet, landing even on the floor. Jog back around the bench, and repeat.

On the Floor

Broad Jump Shuffle: Add some coordination and agility to your footwork. Jump forward, landing with both feet at the same time in a slight squat. Stand upright, then shuffle backward to the start point and repeat. To work on your “rock to rock leaps,” add a side to side skater at the end of the sequence.

Be sure to check out the next #WORKOUTWEDNESDAY for some great visuals on how to execute these moves!

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”  

John Muir

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