Look at some of the strongest athletes in the world – Weightlifters, shot put and hammer throwers, football players. Not only are they all extremely strong, they are all also extremely powerful.
Jumping is one of the simplest and most effective ways to develop power. It’s also a critical element in building squatting and pulling strength in beginner and intermediate athletes.
CrossFit is a sport that involves a lot of jumping, but very little of the jumping is what you would call powerful. Most of the work is high rep box jumps in a fatigued state, which would be considered power endurance or lactic capacity training (the ability to tolerate high volumes of lactic based work). The problem is that this type of jump training has very little positive correlation to your strength. In fact, it’s probably back your squat, deadlift and Olympic lifts back.
True power needs to be trained in a rested state, so to be more powerful you need to do more maximal height/distance jumps and less high repetition jumps. That maximal effort during each jump will help improve your rate of force development and enhance your power for your squats and pulls.
Some of my favorite jumping variations to use with my athletes are Seated Box Jumps and Multiple Jumps for Distance.
Seated box jumps are great because they replicate the movement pattern of a squat, and with added load, are a bit closer to lifting on the force-velocity curve. Plus, by stepping down from the box after each jump you can reduce impact on your joints at the landing. Anytime you can take out wear and tear, you should. These jumps are a great tool for improve your squatting and pulling power, but make sure you are landing in a parallel or above squat position.
Too many people turn box jump variations into an exercise of how well they can pull their knees up to their ears. They lose focus on the real objective, which is jumping as quickly and as high as possible.
Multiple jumps for distance offer you the same explosive strength development as seated box jumps, but will also improve your reactive/elastic qualities. This is critical to improving sprinting ability and overall athleticism. Focus on smooth transitions from jump to jump, and carrying the energy from one jump into the next. Two, three, four and five repetitive jumps are all good variations, just let your ability to properly execute the jumps to dictate how many you are doing.
A good indicator of your reactive abilities is how your multiple response jumps compare to your standing long jump. In short, you should be able to jump significantly further with two bounding jumps than two standard jumps performed back to back. If there’s not much difference, you should practice these bounding jumps more often.
Programming your jumps
Increasing your maximal jumping power will also create a power reserve and make submaximal jumping efforts less stressful for your body. For example, if you have a max standing box jump of 40” then a WOD with sets of 10 30” box jumps would be a 75% effort on each jump. But if you have a max standing box jump of 50” then that same WOD would only require you to do multiple efforts at 60% of your max. You’ll almost certainly be able to do more jumps at 60% of your max because each jump requires less effort.
Of course, if you want to excel in CrossFit you can’t just focus on max power. You need to develop a wide-range of abilities. So I would suggest rotating your jumping efforts, either weekly or mixing it up during the week, between Alactic Power (1-5 jumps with full recovery between sets), Alactic Capacity (2-5 jumps with incomplete recoveries between sets) and Lactic Capacity (Continuous jumps for 30+ seconds with complete or incomplete recoveries between sets-recovery).
Something like this would work well:
- Monday – Seated Box Jump w/ Weight Vest for 5 sets of 2 jumps with 90 seconds rest between sets.
- Wednesday – Jumps for Distance for 10 sets of 3 jumps with 20 seconds rest between sets.
- Friday – Box Jumps for Max Reps in 30 seconds with 90 seconds rest between sets, or just a MetCon that includes high volumes of box jumps.
Jump more, get stronger. Good luck,