Jump Your Way to Power Development
I am not a perfect coach. While I feel I’m above average in my abilities, I’ll be the first to admit I have many “gaps” in my knowledge-base.
Some things I’m good at: coaching the barbell lifts, assessment, hand-to-hand combat vs. zombies.
Some things, not so much: Olympic lifting, speed and jump training.
I’ve written about my thoughts on Olympic lifting in the past, and it’s been within recent months that I’ve decided to take a more proactive approach to addressing my gap in speed & jump training.
I’ve been devouring resources from Lee Taft and Adam Feit on the topic.
To that end, today’s EPIC post, written by strength coach Eric Bach, continues said gap narrowing.
FTY: his new resource, The Power Primer 2.0, just went on sale this week at 50% off the regular price. It jumps (<– HA, get it?) into jump training; and why, even if you’re not an athlete, is something you should be incorporating into your training program(s) to become a lean, mean, machine.
Enjoy. It’s a VERY thorough and informative post.
Jump Your Way to Power Development
Here’s a new twist that answers an old question: how can you bridge the gap between performance-oriented training and physique training?
Can you really look great and improve athletic performance, no matter who you are?
Put more bluntly, can you really have it all?
And does it matter where you train?
The surprising answer has more than a little to do with jumping, of all things.
But let me back up to set the stage.
A few months ago, I moved from a sports performance facility to an independent facility. I work with fewer athletes and more people who just want to look great naked and stay healthy.
Note from TG: Hey! Just like me!
Most trainers try to move in the opposite direction. They train general population clients, but really want to train athletes.
It’s been quite a transition. But I noticed something interesting. None of my clients – old or new, in-person or online, athlete or ordinary Joe — JUST have physique goals or JUST have performance goals. Everyone wants the total package.
And why not?
Everyone wants to be confident struttin’ down the beach to jump into a Volleyball game, whether they are 26 year-old ex-athletes or 50-year-old executives.
Here’s the secret: explosive intent is everything. This blog post will explain how you can jump your way to success.
For every high-performance gym with turf and bumper plates, there are 30 “regular” gyms packed with machines and dudes reading the newspaper on a preacher curl.
Being jacked, tan, and strong is nice. But it’s best to top off your physique with real-world athleticism.
Jumps improve performance for recreational athletes.
Jumps build stronger, more powerful legs.
Jumping requires explosive hip and knee extension. It’s the same movement needed to accelerate in sprinting, crush a heavy squat, and to a lesser degree, get you from your Lazy Boy to grab leftover pizza.
Key Point: Jumps Increase Your Athleticism
You need to generate strength quickly to generate force that propels your body (or an object) through space.
Photo Credit: STACK.com
That’s where jumps come in. Incorporating jumps into your training bridges the gap between the strength you have and the speed you need.
Get Powerful with a Minimal Learning Curve
Just load up and jump, right?
It’s not quite that simple, of course. But it’s a lot simpler than learning how to clean and snatch.
Jumps work the same athleticism-developing movement pattern as most Olympic lifts, squats, and deadlifts: explosive hip extension, sans the technicalities and steep learning curve.
Compared to mastering the Olympic movements, jumps provide the best bang for your buck to add an explosive component to your training in any gym environment.
Boost your Deadlift and Squat Numbers
Let’s get all rigorous and sciencey and stick to the irrefutable facts, backed up by the finest peer-reviewed literature. We know with certainty that:
- Tony likes Star Wars and deadlifts (P.S: Imagine if they did deadlifts in Star Wars?)
- Donald Trump’s mullet is the same color as mustard.
- Strength serves as the foundation that allows you to improve every other quality in the gym.
Digging into my third point, maximum strength is vital. But lifters would benefit from an occasional change.
They should add explosive training to further improve their strength gains. Even the strongest lifters will derive huge benefits to adding jumps to their training.
The reason is improved nervous system efficiency. In both the deadlift and the squat, extending the hips and knees with power is key to performance. The same holds true for crushing jumps.
Adding jumps to your training grooves the same hip and knee extension movement with lighter weights and more explosiveness.
This is huge for two reasons: Intramuscular and intermuscular coordination.
Don’t let these complicated terms intimidate you. I’ll break it down:
Intramuscular Coordination is the ability of individual muscle fibers (say your quads in a jump) to fire and generate force together.
Intermuscular Coordination is firing of muscle groups to work together in a movement pattern, such as your quads, hamstrings, and glutes contracting and relaxing during the jump.
By training similar movement patterns with various loads, like a heavy squat and a jump squat, you’ll teach your nervous system to recruit more muscle fibers to fire faster. And you’ll groove agonist and antagonist muscles to produce smoother movement.
Training with explosive movements improves your muscles ability to work individually and concurrently with other muscles, producing stronger and more explosive movements.
This is important for a few reasons:
Lighter, more explosive exercises are less stressful than always lifting heavy ass weights.
Lifting heavy weights is still important to build strength, but for most lifters less Central System and joint stress is a good thing.
Replacing a heavy strength session with explosive, sub-maximal exercises opens the door for multiple training improvements.
Because stress is lower, you’re capable of practicing a movement pattern more often for faster improvements in technique.
By and large, less stress allows you to train with more volume. This sets the table for progressive overload and muscle growth.
Keep doing heavy strength work. But consider making it less frequent. Use explosive jumps or sub-maximal speed squats as an alternative.
Jump to Prevent Injuries
We all know someone who’s played flag football or pick-up basketball, only to land awkwardly and shred a knee.
Sometimes, these are the guys that look like they’re in the best shape.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always matter how strong and athletic you are. If your mechanics stink, your injury risk will skyrocket.
If you’re not performing an exercise right or landing correctly, you’re grooving a technique that’s dangerous and inefficient, whether it’s a squat or a jump.
When you get out the gym and onto the field, fatigue can set in and form can go out the window, leading to injury
In the interest of not winding up thigh deep in a leg brace, it’s best to groove optimal mechanics every time you jump. Here are some guidelines:
1) Your feet should be flat, rather than in an anterior weight displacement on the toes. If you’re landing on your toes, you’re not getting full hip extension and limiting power. And you’re placing more stress on the knee joint due to greater shear stress.
2) Knees should be neutral, rather than in valgus or varus (knees diving in or diving out, respectively).
3) Abs braced: any rounding of the back and trunk shows a power leak that will cascade down the kinetic chain and place stress on the hips, knees, ankles, and feet. Keep the abs engaged so you can absorb force and transfer power.
4) Eyes ahead, chest up: Stand up, keep your head down, and walk ten stops. Starting to trip over your toes yet?
Wherever your head goes, your body will follow. Keep your head neutral and eyes ahead, otherwise the rest of your mechanics will go out the window.
Activate More Muscle Fibers For Growth
You can’t build muscle fibers that aren’t activated. That means step one to building muscle is activating a greater number of muscle fibers.
That happens in two ways:
First, Lift heavy weights. By being a dedicated reader to this blog I’d assume you already are. Just sayin’…
Second, lift lighter weights (or your bodyweight) faster, which…this case means jumping. TADA!
Now, you could argue that except for beginners, neither lifting explosively nor heavier weights directly builds muscle. What they do-do (Yay, a poop joke) is increase neural drive to your muscles, activate dormant fibers, and crank up the efficiency of your central nervous system.
Take it a step further. If you only lift heavy and moderate intensity weights, adding in lighter more explosive exercises improves muscle unit recruitment. You’ll be throwing a figurative lightening bolt to your nervous system.
This is where it gets cool! You’ve activated more muscle fibers and your strength should increase.
By being stronger, you’ll be able to lift more weight for more reps with more muscle fibers. This gets you progressive overload: the driving force for all progress in the gym.
Getting more explosive provides another tool to turn on muscle fibers. This allows you to more aggressively train the muscle building mechanisms needed to get jacked, tan, swole, and sexy.
This is all fine and dandy, so what the hell are we supposed to do…Jump Volume Training?
Not quite. We can’t jump to conclusions. First, lets cover different types of jumps and why each variety is important.
Static Versus Countermovement Jumps
Static jumps and countermovement jumps look similar, but there are distinct differences in how they train your body.
On static jumps you start loaded, just like the bottom of a squat before jumping. In this position you negate the storage of elastic energy, making the static squat jump a great way to build static strength and explosiveness. Further, because there’s no countermovement, these jumps are less complex and generally safer for most lifters.
Countermovement jumps differ because you start tall, using a downward arm swing while dropping into a squat. Then, from the bottom of your squat you rapidly extend and jump.
This countermovement makes the jump more complex, adding a full eccentric motion (dropping into a squat) before rapidly transitioning to your concentric (going up).
Note: I’m using dumbbells in this case, hence no countermovement with the arms, but there is still a countermovement in the lower body.
I’d recommend starting with static jumps for at least 4-6 weeks to groove proper take off and landing technique. Then, as dictated by technique, incorporate countermovement jumps for more complexity.
Single Versus Multiple Jumps
As you guessed, single jumps are done as individual jumps within a set, with a re-set between each rep.
Most of the time, these are a better option to groove technique and train explosive power.
Multiple Jumps are a set of jumps performed in rapid succession. In this case, a set of 3 jumps would be 3 squat jumps performed with a consistent range of motion without spending too long in transition.
This transition time, known as the amortization phase, should be kept to a minimum. Otherwise, energy stored during the eccentric of each jump dissipates.
Bring in multiple jump sets gradually, grooving proper landing and takeoff mechanics before going all-out with multiple jumps.
Types of Jumps
If you haven’t squatted in years it would be a bad idea to load the bar with near-maximum weights and giver’ hell, right?
Well, the same thing applies to jumps.
Jumps are stressful, especially if you haven’t done explosive training or played sports in years. So ease into jumps, starting with jumping rope, building up to box jumps, squat jumps, and then broad jumps (if appropriate.) You’ll groove technique while conditioning the tissues in your lower body for the impact of jumps.
Jumping rope is an exceptional tool to build foot speed, athleticism, and coordination with little space or equipment. Start by adding three to five minutes before and after your training. A huge benefit of jumping rope is it’s a rate limiting activity. The exercise ends when your technique breaks down, making it damn near impossible to jack yourself up.
Box jumps, when done for power rather than a conditioning exercise, are a great tool to building explosiveness. Box jumps are an ideal candidate if you’re working on technique because they allow you to groove takeoff and landing technique while reducing joint stress on impact.
On each jump make sure you’re emphasizing hip extension—not testing hip mobility. Pause at the top of each rep to reinforce landing technique. Use another box to step down onto. Jumping off backwards defeats the purpose of focusing on technique and decreasing joint stress.
Squat jumps are an explosive lower body exercise with a short learning curve, making them perfect for most non-athletes. Start jump squats as static, single jumps before moving on to weighted or multi-rep jump sets.
Broad jumps are awesome for developing explosive hip extension in a more hip dominant manor than squat jumps. This may lead to more carryover on hip dominant exercises like deadlifts…along with activities that require horizontal power development, like sprinting.
But with a horizontal trajectory comes a caveat: increased shear stress on the knee, making broad jumps tougher on the joints.
To minimize joint stress, perform broad jumps for lower reps and focus on jumping up and out to reduce shear stress on your knees.
Adding Jumps into your Routine
Squat jumps are an explosive exercise ideally programmed after a dynamic warm-up and before lifting.
To increase your hops and potentiate your body pick one type of jumps once or twice per week.
Focus on technique and explosive intent, not high volume. Try 2-4 sets of 3-6 reps on lower-body training days.
1) Workout A: Lower Body, Squat Dominant
Full Dynamic Warm-Up
1a. Static Squat Jump 3×5 Rest 60 seconds
1b. Plank 3×45-60 seconds rest 60 seconds
2. Front Squat 4×6, 6,4,4 Rest 120-150 seconds
3a. Dumbbell Walking Lunge 3×8/each rest 60
3b. Half kneeling pallof Press 3×8 each rest 60
4. Dumbbell RDL 3×12 rest 90 seconds
2) Workout B: Upper Body
3) Workout C: Lower Body, Hinge Dominant
Full Dynamic Warm-Up
1a. Broad Jump 3×3, rest 90 seconds
1b. Single arm farmers walk 3×30 steps, rest 60-90 seconds
2. Deadlift 4×4, 4,2,2 Rest 120-150 seconds
3a. Barbell Single Leg RDL 3×5/side rest 30 between sides, 60 after set
3b. RKC Plank 3×20 seconds, rest 60 seconds
4. Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat 3×8 each, rest 30 between sides, 60 after set
Height isn’t the most important factor, form is. After all, there’s no point in building power on top of a faulty foundation. Keep your focus on full hip extension and sound landing mechanics.
Then, once you’ve nailed your technique, progress to dumbbell and/or multi-response jumps.
A progression of exercises would be:
Bodyweight single response –> bodyweight multi-response –> dumbbell/vest single response –> dumbbell/vest multi-response.
Next Steps: Power Up Your Training Today
May I offer additional help?
I’ve just written an eBook and compiled a video bundle that that elaborates on these concepts. It’s called The Power Primer 2.0.
And it will help you get strong and lean.
More than two years in development, The Power Primer 2.0 bridges the gap between your performance and looking your best.
It’s a package of four eBooks 200 pages over 50 videos that gives you the best of both worlds: A body that looks great and performs great — inside and outside the gym.
- Increase training frequency and nervous system efficiency for strength.
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- Improve performance and maximize muscle retention while shredding body fat.
And I’ve offering everything for 50% off this week only. That’s less than a jig of your favorite protein powder.
If you’re like most people you’ve felt…
- Discouraged by ineffective workouts that leave you discouraged from training and skipping training sessions
- Unathletic and incapable of performing outside the gym
- Like you couldn’t build lean muscle, despite training 5-6x per week
- Plateaued in your strength, stuck lifting the same weight as last year
Help me, help you. You deserve a plan that gets you the best results.