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Squat-Plyometric Training and Improving Vertical Jump

While most of think like Americans in the since of ‘it’s all about the amount of weight on the bar’, that is not the only variable of weight lifting. When you look up the meanings of ‘strength’ and ‘power’ in biomechanics, you might not understand the difference. Both have the same basic meaning of force x distance. Force is the energy as an attribute of physical action or movement and distance are the amount of space moved. However, power has a variable of time; power = (force x distance) ÷ time taken. To give you an example of each, ‘power’ would be like Olympic lifting and ‘strength’ would be like powerlifting. In Olympic lifting, the goal is to move the weight from the start position to the final position as fast as possible. Unlike, powerlifting where the goal is to move the weight from the start position to the final position. In powerlifting, you might see someone ‘grind through; a lift. This is because the goal is just to move the weight, the time taken is not an issue.
Here we are going to take at a study that is about how to improve the vertical jump. There is probably not a bro around who would not want to dunk the basketball. To paraphrase Louise Simonson, if you squat 315 and can jump on a 30-inch box and then one year later can squat 405 but now can jump on a 20-inch box, what happened to you? While most of us would say, we got stronger, Louise said, “You got slower”. This is about being more than bro with a little muscle and becoming an athlete. It is well known that plyometric training is a key component of training for speed-strength, or power, and has been used by countless coaches.

This study used 48 male college students for the tests. There were three test groups, squats only, plyometric only, and Squat-plyometric. This was a seven-week study, for two days a week, with the first week being just for a learning period. From a psychological view, four to six weeks of high-intensity power training is the optimal length the CNS, central nervous system, can take without being over worked. The hip & thigh power, vertical jump test, was conducted before and after the study. There was also a test for a max (1RM) for squat, as the work outs were based off percentages. The squat only group started with four sets of eight at 70% 1RM week one and worked up to two sets of two reps by week six. The plyometric groups work outs were based on periodization and performed three plyometric drills: depth jumps, double-leg hops, and split squats. The Squat-plyometric groups work out was split into a heavy day and light day. On the squats were preformed first, and on the light day, plyometric drills were done first.
For the results, from the title of this article, it is far to think that the squat-plyometric groups results were better than the squat and plyometric only groups, you would be right. It is not only that the results were better, but by how much. The difference in the squat only groups vertical jump test was an average of +3.30 centimeters, plyometric only had an average of +3.81 centimeters, and the squat- plyometric group had an average of +10.67 centimeters. That’s a little over a four-inch difference. This study also shows what many know and that the parallel squat, by itself, is able to increase the vertical jump. This is because the squat is extremely good at enhancing the neuromuscular efficiency of the hips and thighs (aka facilitating the stretch reflex). However, it is when combining weight lifting with plyometric the vertical jump can be significantly increased. There is a close relationship between dynamic strength performance and neuromuscular efficiency. With that being said, parallel squats are what develop the strength in the hips and thighs and it is the plyometric work is what permits effective use of the strength for explosive sports or for evens that demand speed and quickness. Plyometrics role is to facilitate the neuromuscular system into making a quicker transition from eccentric to concentric contractions, thereby increasing the maximal ballistic force that can be generated.

You might be wondering how this can apply to you and your training. The simple answer to that is, try it and see what happens. Weather your just one to body build or you train for daily activates, the ability to be able to generate max dynamic strength is never a bad thing. For one, this could help get your squat max up a little. On the side of athletics, this is a key component for every athlete. No matter the sport, speed is always a good skill to have. This study was only a small microcycle and can be added into an athlete’s training program easily. However, be careful not to overdo it and fry someone’s, or your, CNS. This study was over a six-week time frame and the optimal time frame for plyometric is four to six weeks and can be added to a strength and power cycle or a peak power cycle. Just remember don’t over train now.

Adams, Kent, John P. O’Shea, Katie L. O’Shea, and Mike Climstein. “The Effect of Six Weeks of Squat, Plyometric and Squat-Plyometric Training on Power Production.” ResearchGate. Journal of Applied Sports Research, n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <>.

Founder of Fight Against Chicken Legs, part-time workout stuff, sometimes making websites look pretty, and saving the world #OneRepAtATime