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Tip 241: Improve Vertical Jump Dramatically With Rapid Increase of Plyometric Intensity

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 8:53 AM
Get fast results and jump higher by rapidly increasing the intensity of your plyometric training program. Last week, I reviewed how a high volume of squats with eight sets per training session results in serious and rapid strength gains. To increase vertical jump quickly, a similar method is effective with large weekly increases in plyometric intensity that produce neuromuscular benefits and greater power output.  And the rapid improvements endure for at least 17 days after jump training is discontinued!

A new study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the improvements in strength, power, and jump height of two plyometric training programs in young men who were active in recreational sports such as basketball and volleyball. Researchers found that a three-week (three training sessions a week) plyometric program that used large increases in loading intensity and volume each week resulted in significant improvements in vertical jump, while minimizing markers of muscle damage. For example, the first week of training, participants performed 40 drop jumps from 20 cm; the second week they performed 70 drop jumps from 60 cm; the third week they performed 70 drop jumps with 2 kgs of weight added. After all drop jumps they performed rebound jumps.
Participants significantly increased jump height and maximal voluntary knee extensor strength by the end of the study. They increased vertical jump by an average of 8 percent or three cm, which may seem like a small amount, but it is significant for such a short training cycle. Consider using multiple three-week training cycles during an off-season for serious gains in jump height. Knee extensor strength also increased by 8 percent. Another benefit of this study was that markers of muscle damage were minimized, which likely allowed for faster recovery from each session.  

Interestingly, following the three-week plyometric program, both the strength increases and gains in jump height were equal or slightly higher when participants were tested at 3, 10, and 17 days of detraining. Neuromuscular benefits endured despite a lack of continued training stimulus. Researchers suggest this rapid increment plyometric method is so effective because it causes recruitment of a greater number of motor units and enhances the muscle and tissue elastic properties, taking advantage of the stretch-shortening cycle.
In a similar way that a program that includes a high volume of heavy squats enhance neuromuscular strength quickly, these rapid volume and intensity increments in jump training improve neural drive to produce power. If you missed the tip from last week on the law of diminishing returns, Squat Using a High Volume of Heavy Squats to Improve Strength Rapidly, read it here.
Kamadulis, S., Snieckus, A., et al. Rapid Increase in Training Load Affects Markers of Skeletal Muscle Damage and Mechanical Performance. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. December 2011. Published Ahead of Print.
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