Plyometric exercises for high jumps are truly useful if there is a specific intent behind them. They aren’t a magic pill. They must provide an overload in at least one of the following areas to provide a real athletic benefit:
- Muscle recruitment
- Speed of recruitment
- Muscle coordination
- Ground reaction force
Doing plyometrics for the sake of their fancy name or promised benefits won’t lead you down the path to athletic excellence
If you want to jump high, then you need to train the jump pathway at a more level you ever have before.
Depth Jump Family
When it comes to jumping higher, coaches and athletes should have a close relationship with the depth jump. 2.40m high jumper Rudolf Povarnitsyn did.
Regarding the basic depth jump, the exercises is easily modulated towards the ability level of the athlete. An 18″ depth jump is as different from a 48″ depth trenches strength coaches going around telling half of their athletes to avoid barbell squatting.
The use of low boxes in depth jumping is one of the best ways to teach younger athletes, who are ready to train more seriously (late middle school, early high school), landing mechanics in a “single response” format. On the level of higher boxes, depth jumps are directly scalable to the landing. Reactive ability of the athlete as they progress through their athletic career.
Depth Jump Family:Single Leg version
An advanced version of the depth jump that is particularly useful for all athletes, and not just the track and field variety, is the single leg depth jump. Interestingly enough, the single leg depth jump has much more in common with the two leg jump than it does a single leg takeoff. Why? Contact time.
Single leg depth jumps tend to yield a relatively long contact time compared to its two leg counterparts (although this time can be lowered considerably when rebounding over a hurdle). since this is the case, the single leg depth jump is more closely related to the “explode” quality of a vertical jump than the driving, “reactive”quality of single leg leaping. Think of its a GPP exercise for single leg jumps and an SPP exercise for double leg jumping.
Depth Jump Family:Hurdle Hops
Where depth jumps are of a more powerful, single dose, nature, hurdle hops are a rhythmic, vibration like counterpart. In the landmark book “Running”, by Frans Bosch and Ronald Klomp, sprinting is noted to be a cyclic activity. It is for this reason that high and long jumpers will often increase the cadence of their last few strides leading into takeoff because a faster frequency will allow a faster reflex of the takeoff mechanism itself ( from the inverse-extension reflex).
Each step on the approach is related to the step before it and therefore, the plant step is related to the penultimate and each step prior. Nobody jumps too high or far off one leg with long, loping strides all the way until the plant. Good jumpers will instinctively escalate the cadence of their pre-takeoff strides to yield a better reflex connection into the takeoff step. In this manner, each hurdle hop is related to the one before it.
Although hurdle hops are a bilateral activity, they are still cyclic in nature and based on reflexive mechanisms that bind each jump together. Because of this nature, the hurdle hop is an invaluable counterpart to the depth jump in the world of shock plyometric exercises for high jumps.
Also, because hurdle hops are easier exercise to perform in a higher number of repetitions. They are an excellent tool for solidifying and building on the mechanics learned through single response depth jumps. Closer hurdles will have a more powerful effect on the knee ex tensors muscles.
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