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Ben Neal

How to jump better

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Ben Neal

Hi

I am doing a gymnastics tumbling class, mainly using an air track and a small trampet to do round offs, front flips, back tuck and back handspring but am finding that as I quite tall I struggle to the 'air' needed to rotate.

Can any one advise how to improve my jumping ability to get more height and momentum?

Many Thanks

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Alessandro Mainente

You should first improve basic strength and hips mobility. without basic strength no plyiometrich work could be considered safe by an adult , trust me I got a 3rd degree strain on adductor after more and more attempt of doing the front handspring salto on vault.

Also important is hip mobility, without a good active hips extension there are no way to learn powerful back tumbling of everytype and front tumbling where the body needs hips extension.

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Florian Nagel

Thank you Alessandro. But: What would you say, which level of strength and hips mobility is recommended or needed to consider plyometric work (by an adult) as safe? Could you mention any tests for us, to fulfil the requirements?

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Alessandro Mainente

At least lunge or deep squat with your bodyweigth added for 10 reps. To obtain the maximum response by the connective you should have a good range of motion. more range of motion in a joint means higher potential of strength development.

btw beside the range of motion, everything concerned with explosive work needs basic strength . for adults the basic strenght development process follows the same approach of upper body: progressive exercises, progressive compensation and progressive load.

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Ben Neal

Are you saying that we should be able to squat or lunge with a load equivalent to our body weight before attempting dynamic movement?

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Matic Balantic

I would say you can do dynamic movement before, you just have to be careful about the exercises you pick. For plyometrics for example, there is a commonly heard that you have to be able to squat at least 1.5x bodyweight or something in that matter, but that is not true in my opinion. While I wouldn't suggest doing depth jumps, but I don't see a reason why one couldn't do for example box jumps.

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Coach Sommer

The old 1.5times bdywt squat is an old track n' field standard which has little application in the real world.

It is not necessary to be able to handle a certain external load for a certain number of reps prior to engaging in plyometric work.  As the vast majority of the world's athletes have shown.

There have been Olympic Champions who have engaged in heavy leg work and there have been Olympic Champions who were not even allowed to ride a bike let alone lift weights for fear it would make their legs too heavy.

Regardless of which approach you pursue, what is clear is that the legs must be strengthened (whether thru bodyweight exercises or weights), must be properly mobilized (prehab and mobility work) and the connective tissue progressively conditioned (this is where most people drop the ball) in order to engage in plyometric work safely and productively.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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GoldenEagle

In short... You need a strong core, legs that can produce more upward force with less excess mass, and additional upward momentum.

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Fabio Pinna

I will add one detail: the entire lower body, and then some core and arguabily even the entirety of the spine, are involved in jumping motions. Untrained people tend to focus too much on what happens between the knees and hips, and forget that the lower back and the ankles *AND* the feet exist. This is a mistake that even some "professional" trainers make, and it's a very bad mistake.

Sure, the quads are the main source of power for jumping, but there's a reason if the term "triple extension" exists. While the upper leg is the limiting factor for jumping *power* - if your quads and glutes are not strong enough, you will never gain significant airtime - your lower legs are what lets you transmit that power to the ground. And maybe even more importantly, are what lets you return to the planet again safely!

I've lost count of how many cases of plantar fascitis I've seen in athletes that thought their legs were already strong enough from heavy squatting and whatnots. And even in sedentary people! We all have stairs in our lives, while our feet muscles are almost atrophied from bad shoes, boots, and sedentary lifestyles. Then there is the fact that an "inactive" ankle can actually absorb energy from your jumping motion....

So if your lower legs are strong, and your upper legs are weak (warning: gross oversimplification), the worst that can happen is that you won't have any significant airtime.

But if the opposite is true - and it is for 99% of the untrained population, and then even for a large portion of amateur athletes - and the upper legs are stronger than the lower legs... A good metaphor could be having a very powerful engine, and then uninflated tires and bad suspensions. I like to show this video to my clients: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQdlAfrL-dA, and then ask them: what do you think can happen if the nuts of that wheel aren't tight enough, or if the tire itself is weak? In my metaphor, your upper legs are the engine, the wheels are your feet. Fun game: find the most appropriate simile between body parts and car parts. Is the drive shaft the spine or the femurs or the knees?

 

My advice for beginner jumpers *in any discipline* is: work extra hard on ankle mobility and stability, foot articulation and strenght, and core/back stability. Those are, as an adult, the places where you risk the most injury, and the factors that will severely limit your ability to train. The rest of the legs will develop with jumping itself. Once your weak points are taken care of, you'll notice that you can train more, and benefit more from training - thus being able to jump much more!

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