Now that it is becoming more popular for people to train for athletic purposes rather than just aesthetics, or people realizing that there are other ways to train instead of bodybuilding, and with more and more strength and conditioning facilities popping up here and there it is getting easier to find the places to do this.
Now, with all these facilities opening up there is more opportunity to get relevant coaching (not necessarily of the highest standard but let’s not open up that can of worms).
From my experience when visiting these different places there is a wide range of coaching styles and different philosophies but something I have seen as a regularity is the frequency of using the Olympic lifts (Snatch, Clean & Jerk and their variations) to develop power.
On a positive note I think that these lifts are excellent for building fast and powerful athletes, and also help to maintain good mobility, strong trunk positioning and overall athleticism. The negative is that they can take a large amount of coaching, as each little section of the lift is very technical – especially in their fullest form (hang and power variations not quite so technical but still a lot of work).
So what can we do to develop power without using these exercises?
There are several options, but the one I’m focusing on today, and my personal favourite … The Jump!
Here is a challenge – try to jump from the floor but move slowly …
Did you fail to leave the floor? I imagine so. It is impossible to jump high or far without moving forcefully and quickly.
You can incorporate jumping into your programming in a variety of different ways – you could jump for height, you could jump for distance, you could do repetition jumps/bounds, single leg for height or distance etc. Then if they become easy or you start to plateau you can add weight using a weighted vest, dumbells, powerbag etc.
When jumping onto boxes, a lot of people will only use enough effort to make it onto the box. But to get the most out of it, you want to be able to get as high as possible! If you have to descend a little before you land, who cares?! Always be maximal to allow for the greatest potential reward.
In terms of timing, I would do jumps prior to your main big lift on lower body days – for instance use them before squats. Not only will it have the benefits you were after in terms of power, but also help warm you up ready for your heavy work.
Box jumps are becoming popular as a conditioning tool (CrossFit strikes again), but if you want to use them for power development, it is best to do them with a good amount of rest. I’d work in the 3-5 rep range, and 3-5 sets, with at least 2 minutes of rest between sets. This way we are able to let our body recover enough so that each set is nearly maximal, without spending a ridiculous amount of time resting which will drag out the entirety of the session.
With the summer coming up, I imagine a lot of sports people will be looking to make the most of their off-season by doing conditioning and speed work, so why not incorporate some broad jumps as well? Make the most of the sunshine (I’m keeping optimistic here Britons).
Instead of referencing each little area, I’ve listed some reading materials below for you to have a browse over yourselves should you want any evidence of the benefits of jumping.
So go ahead, Jump Around!
Rob Nitman. BSc. ASCC.