Here at Pulse Training Systems we use a variety of techniques and equipment to develop an athletes ability to run faster and become more explosive. However, nothing is more effective for developing a faster rate of force development than jumping. Jumping exercises train the nervous system to recruit motor units at a faster rate. These motor units control the same muscles involved in sprinting in your lower body, especially the glutes and hamstrings. If you start by jumping onto a 30” box, and over a few weeks work your way up to a 34” box, your nervous system is now telling your muscles to contract harder and faster to create more force to gain the velocity to jump higher. With that being said, when we train an athlete how to jump higher, we are simultaneously teaching them to run faster.
Why not just do more sprinting? The answer is simple, and it is called the law of accommodation. As human beings our body is not built like a machine. We are a dynamic species. We need various forms of movement and stimulation to become more athletic. If you have been a field athlete for any number of years, then inevitably you have been sprinting for quite some time. This same motor pattern has become so ingrained into your body that your neuromuscular system sees no reason to adapt and improve. The body needs a novel stimulus, something it hasn’t done before, to adapt to, and improve upon. Rotating various jumping exercises in a planned progression will keep the body adapting and improving, but prevent it from accommodating to the stimulus and plateauing.
Hurdle Jumping teaches an athlete to react to ground forces and minimize impact time. Hurdle jumps will train the body to explosively contract the muscles of the legs and hips in a repeated fashion. Sound familiar? This is exactly what happens in a full-speed sprint.
Adding external resistance to an explosive movement like a jumping will force the body to adapt by increasing its motor unit recruitment and neuromuscular efficiency more so than a regular jump. If you’ve ever played baseball or softball and were warming up on deck using a weighted donut on your bat you may have noticed this in action. When you take a few swings with the extra weight on the bat, and then take the weight off, what happens? The bat feels much lighter and moves much faster. This is because your body is now recruiting more muscle fibers, and faster, to swing the bat at a more efficient rate.
This is by far one of the best methods for increasing jump height. These build reversal strength and power by taking advantage of your body’s natural stretch reflex. When a muscle lengthens it naturally wants to rebound and contract at an equal, yet opposite rate. When we fall and catch our landing the velocity of the fall forces the athlete to create more power by reversing the impact and violently contracting the muscles at a greater than normal rate. This creates a greater stimulus for the nervous system and the muscle’s stretch reflexes. The bigger stimulus we can create then the more adaptation for improvement will occur.
There you have it, try it out, and check out some of our sports performance athletes performing these same jumps in the video below!