What about high volume jump training programs? Don’t I need to perform a lot of jumps in order to get good at it?
Upon seeing my programs many people are rather shocked when they see many of the exercises they’re familiar with prescribed with many less repetitions then they’ve seen in some other programs. Why is this? Well the simple answer is that in order for jump training to be effective it has to be performed as a power training method. This type of training needs to be done with high intensity, focus, and concentration on every single repetition. Remember the discussion on endurance training earlier? Maximum power can only be maintained for somewhere around 10 seconds and after about 30 seconds of performing a repetitive movement power output will decline due to fatigue. Repetitions performed in a high state of fatigue are less than optimal for power development.
Having said that, there is a time when it is optimal to perform a large volume of jumps and this is when one has not learned the basic patterns of movement and can benefit from a high volume of repetitions to teach the body how to perform these movements efficiently. Another time when it is ok to use higher repetitions is at the beginning of a workout when the focus is on elevating the muscle and body temperature to prepare for the more demanding exercises to come.
To illustrate this first point, think about it. When a baby first learns to walk he or she doesn’t immediately stand up and take off walking. It takes lots of practice and repetitive efforts to develop the muscular control to perform this activity. In much the same way, very young or inexperienced athletes can gain some benefit from doing high volumes of jumps to learn the correct movement patterns. These patterns can be done with a higher number of repetitions but quality repetitions are still key. Once fatigue sets in, the performance quality of these repetitions become low, power output declines, concentration and focus decline, and thus the learning effect of the movement lessened.
This is why my beginner plyometric workouts start off with larger volumes of jumps but not extraordinary volumes. Most of you out there have already spent more then enough time learning the jumping movements and performing plenty of repetitions just playing basketball and shooting around. I’ve seen some programs out there that actually call for as many as 500 repetitions per set of an exercise 5 days per week!! This is way too much for any athlete and is training endurance, not power development. In addition, these programs also neglect many of the qualities that go into developing a good vertical jump, these being force, rate of force development, and plyometric strength. Many athletes I’ve heard from actually report negative results from these programs. The athletes that do
gain are doing so most likely because they were either:
A: Unconditioned or untrained – An untrained athlete will respond to just about any program, however, they definitely will get better results by training on an optimum program.
B: They were maturing physically, growing, and naturally getting stronger. This maturation process contributed strongly to their gains. Many teenagers who are growing and maturing physically could actually make significant progress by playing video games!
So the point is, no you do not need to perform programs with a dramatically high volume of jumps and doing so, in fact, would be very detrimental to the performance of most athletes.