Olympic Lifts for Improving Vertical Jump by Adam Whitehead
[This is a guest blog by one of our Athletic Interns, Adam Whitehead, an Exercise Science student from East Carolina University]
Jump in the form of a verb is defined as, “to spring off the ground or other base by a muscular effort of the legs and feet” says “The Free Dictionary” on the web. That same site also defines spring in the form of a verb as, “1. To move upward of forward in a single motion or a series of such motions; 2. To move suddenly on or as if on a spring.” So if we put the meaning of spring in the definition of jump we come up something such as; to move upward or forward suddenly by a muscular effort of the legs and feet. Now if we look at the meaning of suddenly……
Just kidding, I think you all get the point and now know what jump means.
The reason I went so deep into the definition of jump is because when I was in high school if you asked my coaches they could have told you something similar to what is stated above. But the way I was taught to lift in high school for sports did not reflect my coach’s knowledge on the correct meaning of jumping. Throughout high school I was taught and worked out with the basic lifts (bench press, dead lift, squat, lunges, etc) which are normally performed slowly. Some of you might have gone through the same training and it’s potentially robbing you of your potential.
We all know that most sports involve some sort of jumping or explosive movements. Loading the bar up to train our muscles to move slowly makes us strong but has limited application to sports. If we want to be explosive in a game, we should add some sort of training that trains those qualities.
That brings me to the Olympic Lifts: the Clean, the Snatch, and the Jerk. All of these lifts are full body explosive lifts. Requiring all of the muscles that are used in jumping, with the same characteristics of jumping; it makes sense that when you are training under a load completing these lifts, that when you unload your jump and explosive performance will improve.
There have been studies done to support what I have stated above. This study examined 32 men and divided them into different groups. There was a control group that resistance trained, a VJ group that did vertical jump exercises and resistance training, and a WL group that included Olympic Weightlifting along with resistance training. The results indicated that adding Olympic weightlifting to your already existing workouts help an athlete improve jumping ability more as well as improving other test that relate to sport movements.
Another study was performed using a group of football players. One group participated in power lifting and the other participated in Olympic weightlifting. The article states that, “after a 15 week study was over the Olympic weightlifting group had a significant improvement in the vertical jump and 40 meter sprint over the power lifting group.”
Along with those two studies there is tons of anecdotal evidence to suggest we should include Olympic lifts to help athletes reach their jumping potential. I do want to warn you that Olympic weightlifting is very technical and shouldn’t be performed without supervision or appropriate equipment. If you would like to add Olympic style weightlifting into your training regimen but you are not sure about being able to perform them safely; all Athletic Lab are certified by USA Weightlifting as Level 1 coaches___________________
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