WSBB Blog: Jump Higher to Run Faster
As the Olympics wrap up, the track and field finals are upon us, and we will see which country produces the fastest athletes. Each of these countries has their own approach to training their athletes, with some nations having constant success, while others fail to achieve their Olympic goals year after year. This leads to the question, what must a track and field athlete do to increase their explosiveness and athletic performance? The answer is jump training. Jump exercises allow an athlete to increase their explosive strength, while also increasing the overall training volume.
Jump training requires strength, speed, and coordination making it an ideal exercise to answer the needs of a track athlete. Programming jumps into your workout plan requires an understanding of the relationship between volume and intensity within a training program. When jump exercises are added in, squat and deadlift volume will need to be properly regulated and monitored to ensure the introduction of jumps contributes to training success, instead of causing recovery issues for the athlete.
The Introduction of Jumps into a Training Program
Jump training requires preparation before you begin jumping onto elevated platforms. Jump training isn't just jumping around for fun, you will be jumping in semi-fatigued states, so you will require a certain level of preparation to ensure you are conditioned to perform the more advanced exercises properly.
One of the best ways to begin jump training safely is through the use of basic vertical jumps and kneeling jumps. Vertical jumping is self explanatory, you will stand in place jumping as high vertically as possible. The safest way to begin kneeling jumps is to have an athlete begin by sitting on their knees, using explosive movement to bring their feet under them into a standing position. This exercise should be done up until the point of fatigue, at which time you will either end the workout or transition into weight training. It is important to note, jumping in a fatigued state not only increases the likelihood of injury, it also defeats the purpose of explosive training.
Once an athlete begins to nearly miss the box, the jump training is over. As we mentioned previously, you will jump in a semi-fatigued state, but you should never perform jumps once fatigue limits your ability to complete the jump safely. Once kneeling jumps have been mastered, you can begin performing weighted kneeling jumps. The first weighted kneeling jump exercise that should be performed is a basic power clean from the kneeling position. Once the athlete can complete that movement without issue, move onto kneeling power cleans leading to a jump onto the feet. You can continue this sequence of exercise evolution performing the snatch or split snatch.
Advanced Jump Exercises
At Westside, we have always included advanced level jump training in the training of our athletes and powerlifters. For years, Louie has preached the benefits of plyometric exercise used to develop explosive strength. Once an athlete has acclimated to the basic jump exercises, you must change the stimuli to avoid any issues with accommodation. We do this through the use of box squat jumps, and depth jumps.
To perform a box squat jump, the athlete will sit completely down onto a 12 inch box, rocking back onto the box while simultaneously swinging their arms and lifting their feet off of the ground to build momentum. This is followed by an explosive swing of the arms forward to create momentum, followed by a stomp of the feet onto the ground to jump as high as possible onto a second platform. Platform height is dependent on the athlete, the height should be challenging, but should also allow for multiple jumps to be performed. It does no good to set a platform height so high that you can only perform a few reps.
Depth jumps are the most advanced way to perform a jump, and should only be performed by properly prepared athletes under the supervision of an experienced coach. To perform a depth jump, you will have two platforms. One to perform the drop in phase, the other to jump onto after you have dropped in. To properly drop in, you will take a step off of the platform with one foot, bringing both feet together as you descend. Be sure to maintain some level of athletic flexibility as you fall to allow your body to absorb the fall properly. Rigidity is not your friend during a depth jump drop in.
Once contact with the floor is made, a quick rock onto the heels will be performed while simultaneously swinging the arms behind the torso to build momentum similar to the box squat jump. From there, you will jump as high as possible to land onto the next platform. Keep in mind, depth jumps are extremely taxing on the skeletal system, the nervous system, and can lead to major injury or recovery issues if executed or regulated incorrectly. Depth jumps should only be performed by properly recovered athletes that possess the athletic capability and physical preparedness required to properly execute the jumps, and recover from them in a timely manner.
At Westside Barbell, we have long understood the benefits of plyometrics and the positive effect jump training has on an athlete’s sport performance. If you want to become as fast and explosive as possible, you must intelligently combine jump training with weight training. By focusing on the development of explosive strength, absolute strength, and speed strength, an athlete is guaranteed to have the strength and conditioning levels necessary to reach their athletic potential. For more information explaining how Westside Barbell trains track athletes be sure to check out the Westside Barbell Strength Manual for Running, available for purchase now at www.Westside-Barbell.com.