Athletes often come into Emerge with the goals: “I would like to increase my vertical” or “I would like to be faster at my forty yard dash”.
The two most important qualities to increase your performance in vertical and speed are strength and power. The two ultimately work together because without strength, you will always be limited by your muscles ability to produce force (power).
While looking at program design you have to give each phase the proper amount of attention in a 4 to 8 week time frame, allowing one to build from the other. In simple terms:
You should train your major muscle groups that are associated with speed and vertical (hamstrings, glutes, and lower back/core) twice a week. Upper body should also be trained in the same manner, on opposing (off) days of lower body, allowing the proper amount of rest and recovery. Additionally, it gives both your upper and lower body each one strength day (heavy day) and one speed/auxiliary day each (light day).
In order to produce explosive power you must do similar motions and focus on movements that mimic one’s vertical, for example depth jumps, Russian lunges and any Olympic lifts.
Eccentric strength (drop before the jump) and isometric stabilization (pause before jump) should not be neglected since they too, are key components in a maximal jump. For example, in order to run or jump properly, one needs to do active stretching. This prepares the muscles for the eccentric (stretched muscle) phase of the jump. Isometric stabilization needs to be practiced to optimize the Amortization phase, which is the brief pause before the explosive concentric movement (the jump). In any power movement there is a lowering/loading phase that makes maximal use of the muscles. Likewise without the isometric/pause the transition between eccentric to the jump/power movement would be slower, resulting in a decreased effort.
Anyone is able to improve his or her speed or vertical with the proper program design and training. For more information on this or any other sports enhancement questions, contact an Emerge Fitness ATP trainer.
Matt Wirth, Emerge Fitness