13 May Elitefts article – Jump With A Purpose
Jump With A Purpose
Originally Posted on Elitefts May 13 2013 – http://articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/jump-with-a-purpose/
Plyometrics—has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? The coaches who popularized them here in the west thought the same thing. So they lumped every kind of jump, single or repeated, for power or for conditioning, complete with depth jumps and a turd on top, under the umbrella term that is plyometrics.
You may know that Yuri Verkhoshansky is considered the father of “plyometrics” in the west. You may not know that he was more accurately responsible for making the “shock method” or depth jumps well known. In fact, plyometrics came from the term “pliometric,” which means the short stretching or yielding phase (i.e. the rapid squat) preceding a regular standing vertical jump. The jump is also called the miometric action. Unnecessary semantics, right? Not so much. The idea that broad jumps, vertical jumps, and box jumps should be mixed in with depth jumps and drop jumps (also called altitude landings) is an incorrect one that has halted the progress and effectiveness of the method for many athletes whose coaches think all this is useless semantics.
This is something that has been discussed and written about multiple times and should not have to be repeated, but a quick Google search of the word “plyometrics” seems to show that most people aren’t getting the point. I’d rather sound like a resounding gong and get a message out there to some poor soul listening to the expertise of people who are really good at sounding important.
Why use them
Jump training, in the traditional sense, includes things like broad jumps used for explosive ability and are subdivided into single or multiple jumps, focusing on reactive ability as well. On the other hand, depth jumps and drop jumps (traditionally called the shock method) are more advanced forms of training that need to be understood as such.
The shock method was intended to be used only by advanced athletes who could already squat at least one and a half to three times their body weight, depending on who you read. Why have such strict rules? Well, because the amount of force transferred throughout the body can be much more than twice your body weight in a single jump. Shock training involves a very rapid change from eccentric stretching to a very powerful concentric movement. This also provides a maximal neuromuscular contraction and shouldn’t be thought about as just another kind of jump. Confusing the two methods and abusing the use of depth and drop jumps in training can result in soft tissue pain or damage and can impair their effectiveness.
When to use them
When planning out an effective strength training program, it would be unheard of to plan to max out for a beginner lifter or athlete on a main lift without first preparing for it. No one with half a brain would have someone max out on a squat on his first day in the weight room. The lifter has to first learn form and slowly build strength to be able to handle the maximal load.
Let’s make this clear: haphazardly using depth jumps in training without progressively preparing the body for it is just as bad as maxing out a new lifter on day one. The amount of force transferred through your body during the rapid eccentric action of landing can easily exceed three times the body weight of an athlete or lifter. So let me address you, Mr. Groundbreaking Methods. You’re going to tell me that a lifter needs to slowly and safely get used to squatting a maximal weight of maybe two times his body weight, but that he can just throw depth jumps (with over three times his body weight in forces) in with a host of other cool looking jumping drills without any thought? There’s a little something wrong with that.
Jump training needs to be thought of as a separate training method from depth jumps (shock method). Jump training includes hurdle jumps, bounds, broad jumps, standing vertical jumps, and box jumps. These can all be used with or without added resistance.
With all these different jump options, it’s easy to get confused about how to plan them and to get lost in the minutia, but I’ve found three simple rules to keep a progressive and safe order to this. Just as you would learn to squat before you did a power clean or snatch, certain skills in jump training need to be developed first to contribute to the success of subsequent skills.
Rule 1: Perform single jumps before consecutive jumps. If implementing a broad jump or a box jump, focus on one jump at a time and work on sticking the landing. Reset every time before you perform another jump.
Rule 2: Do multiple, consecutive jumps with forward displacement (jumping out and forward) before multiple jumps without forward displacement. After you’ve mastered single jumps (while sticking the landing), you can move on to consecutive jumps where you land and immediately go into another jump. Once you get to this point, multiple jumps with forward displacement, such as consecutive broad jumps and bounds, should be done before consecutive box jumps where you just jump up, jump back down, and immediately jump back up rapidly.
Rule 3: Perform all jumps first without added resistance. Once these are mastered, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell or use a band for overload. Dumbbells, kettlebells, and bands are always a better idea when doing vertical jumps or jumping split squats (also called scissor lunge jumps) because a barbell jars the spine if it flies up and lands on the upper back during the jump.
A little planning goes a long way
When training athletes and lifters, I’m more likely to use a concurrent approach while focusing on a specific emphasis (developing multiple abilities at the same time while focusing more exclusively on one). However, when planning the use of jump and shock training as a separate training means, I prefer to use more of a block program approach where skills are developed one at a time and everything builds on itself. Programming plyometricsas part of your total program isn’t something that I’ll go into right now, mostly because I’m lazy. Rather, I’ll just stick to the planning of plyometricsas a specific means of training.
Each block of emphasis in jump training is dependent on the needs and available time of the lifter or athlete. So for me to tell you to definitely spend two weeks on some blocks and six weeks on other blocks would be irresponsible. But I’ll probably tell you that anyway. Just remember that I’m talking about setting up jump training in blocks. I’m not referring to total programming of all training means.
When planning these blocks, remember that jump and shock training develops different types of strengths and skills. Let’s use bullets for simplicity sake:
- Explosive strength: Developed through single and multiple jumps and bounds, single or double legged. These can be used with resistance as well.
- High speed strength: Developed through quick, repetitive, alternating leg jumps or bounds.
- Reactive ability: Developed through depth jumps (shock method) as well as less stressful means such as hurdle jumps and quick, repetitive box jumps.
- Maximal anaerobic power: Developed with uphill bounds and stadium jumps.
When setting up the blocks for jump exercises, we need to take into account what specific skill we’re trying to develop, and we need to remember the rulesof ordering them. Besides that, the blocks of jump training can be organized countless ways. I’ll just share what I’ve found to be the simplest and most effective way of organizing all this:
- Single jumps should be implemented first, starting off with one to two times a week with only 2–3 sets of 4–8 jumps. Once progressed and developed, move to 3–4 sets of 6–10 jumps. An extra day can also be added.
- Multiple jumps can then be implemented after a predetermined period of two to six weeks to further develop explosive strength and also work on high speed strength and a little reactive ability.
- Multiple consecutive jumps, such as quick repetitive box jumps and stadium jumping, can then be implemented after two to four weeks to further improve reactive ability and also to work on maximal anaerobic power.
- Jumps with added resistance are the last step before implementing depth jumps to prepare the athlete.
- Depth jumps can then be implemented closer to a competition period after there has been a significant volume of single, multiple, and resisted jumps first. They need to be piggybacked on jump training and only implemented after a lifter or athlete has gone through two phases of body weight and overload (resisted) jump exercises.
The organization of these jumps can be included in the preparation period of the athlete or lifter and can be thought of as an accumulation phase. Depth jumps can then be implemented after this to really maximize power and speed of movement for three to six weeks (depending on the needs and schedule of the athlete or lifter).
Depth jumps are also a great tool just to retain the explosive strength and reactive ability during the competition period that has already been previously built through other means such as plyometrics and lifting.
The time and the place
Using jump training and the shock method haphazardly in a single training session can be just as detrimental as throwing it randomly into your programming and expecting it to magically make you an athlete. If you understand why you should use each method, you’ll understand when to use them. Jump exercises actually prime or excite the nervous system for subsequent activity. This is why you see good track coaches beginning their athlete’s training with bounds and jumps before moving on to speed drills.
The same concept can be taken to training for lifters and team sports athletes. Starting the workout with jump training will actually increase central nervous system function and help you get more out of the rest of your training. While jump training can also be used at the end of the workout with more volume, starting your workout with jumps is a great rule to follow, especially if the workout is focused on speed.
Depth jumps, on the other hand, involve such a forceful contraction that it would impair the rest of the workout if used first or between sets of lifts. For this reason, depth jumps should be reserved until the end of the workout.
Don’t mesh things
There is a good deal to think about when planning the use of jump training and the shock method in a training program. The important point to remember is that these two methods need to be thought of as separate from resistance training. Can jumps be mixed into a workout properly, essentially supersetting a barbell lift with a jump? Yes, but most everyone does it incorrectly. While they can be added to the beginning or end of a weight session, as stated above, having a second workout later on in the day or on another day is actually a much better alternative in order to make sure that the specific skill and task are focused on and that’s all.
The point to remember is that plyometrics help further develop the strength and explosiveness developed in the weight room but should be thought of as a way to fine tune an engine, not as something that is mixed together without much thought to organization.
Although I re-posted the article here, check out the original article on Elitefts because they included some phenomenal videos – Jump With A Purpose
- Verkhoshansky YV, Verkhoshansky N (2011) Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches. Rome, Italy: Verkhoshansky SSTM.
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