Jumping is one of the simplest and most effective ways to develop explosive power in athletes. The particular super-power of jump training involves honing your ability to express power quickly: your rate of force development. Essentially, your rate of force development represents the ‘explosive’ element of explosive power. The force itself represents the power.
True and proper power training needs to occur with the body in a rested state, so it needs to be included at the beginning of your routine before completing any lifting exercises. Your central nervous system (CNS) needs to be fresh to make the most of this kind of exercise, so as always don’t over-do it. Jumps needs to be introduced slowly with close attention paid to volume.
Focus on the quality, not quantity, of your jumps. Try and do more repetitions at your maximum height or distance instead of a greater number of lower or shorter jumps. The latter option may work for Crossfit, but to train power you need to develop consistent high-performance in short-burst intervals. Typically, 1 to 2 sessions per week is enough to make real progress while still allowing full recovery between training sessions.
The greatest risk and lesson to come from jump training involves correct landing mechanics. With training, the muscles land softly and learn to absorb force. The controlled conditions of jump training allow the body to get used to the repeated shocks caused by hitting the ground. As long an athlete knows how to land correctly, they may negate potential loss of force or risk of injury.
Of course, too much of a good thing tends to go bad rather quickly. That’s why I refer to Prilepin’s chart for volume management:
My apologies for the gratuitous numbers, but this is a great way to determine the often quite tricky task of assigning volume or total jumps per session to athletes. To help you make sense of that, let’s say I had an athlete performing box jumps at 85% of their maximum height. Based on the chart I would have them perform between 10 and 20 total jumps for the session, such as 3 sets of 5 jumps, or 6 sets of 3 jumps. Beginners will always start with less volume, but as their capacity is redefined in their training they will gradually increase reps.
Here are three jumping variations for athletic training so you can start using them today to build explosive lower body POWER!
1. Triple broad jumps
2. Box Jumps from Seated Position
3. High Hurdle Jumps with Approach Step