Exercise of the month - drop jump

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James Hairsine

Ross once asked ‘Is the real reason why Olympic weightlifters are good vertical jumpers because they inadvertently do a lot of fast eccentric training in the catch phase of the full movement?’. With power output being fundamental to sporting success or failure, from a swing of a golf club to a push off the wall in swimming, there is always a need to optimise/increase an athlete’s power producing capabilities. This means that it is important that coaches look at all methods by which power output can be enhanced. The above question implies that there may potentially be another mechanism by which Olympic lifts can provide a potent power development stimulus. This mechanism, focussing on the rapid eccentric element of the exercises, is termed ‘fast eccentrics’. Fast eccentrics have been described as eccentric contractions that occur at speeds ≥180o/sec. As Ross previously stated, many strength and conditioning coaches may be inadvertently training fast eccentrics through the Olympic lifts and their derivatives. The purpose of this article is to highlight the benefits of utilising eccentrics in a training programme, and to describe the physiological benefits more specifically of training with fast eccentrics. This article focuses on one specific fast eccentric exercise, the drop jump, and the exercise is expanded on further with regards to how to progress this movement.

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