Vertical Jump: How do you measure power in the lower body?

Vertical Jump: How do you measure power in the lower body?

The vertical jump is a specific exercise that allows us to assess the capacity of the lower body. We tell you how to train and improve it.

What is the Vertical Jump?

The vertical jump is a complex polyarticular dynamic movement that requires the introduction, development, optimisation and maintenance of inter-muscular coordination.

It is a multi-joint action that requires substantial muscle effort, mainly from the ankle, knee and hip joints.

Vertical jumping ability is a crucial performance skill in several sports, such as volleyball, basketball and football.

What is vertical jump

Depending on the sport, the importance of jumping ability may be affected by the direction of the jump.

Therefore, considering the tactical nature of jumping activities in team sports such as basketball, football and volleyball, the height of the vertical jump is often considered a critical performance outcome.

The execution of this motor skill depends on the coordination of the body’s segmental actions, which is determined by:

  • The interaction between muscle forces (modulated by impulses sent by the central nervous system); and
  • The network of forces that are generated around the joints to meet the mechanical demands of the task.

How do you train the vertical jump?

Vertical jump training should start with the correct determination of the force-velocity and force-time profile.

Knowledge of the vertical profiles will provide information on the physical capacities that must be developed to improve the ballistic pushing performance, and on the maximum levels of strength and velocity of the athlete’s neuromuscular system.

In other words, the correct determination and optimal application of the force-velocity, force-power-velocity and strength-time profiles will be a key element in the methodology and planning of sports training aimed at improving vertical jumping.

Force-Velocity Profile

This is the assessment of the manifestation of force by means of the peak force achieved and the time required to reach it in a dynamic action.

Jump

In other words, it is the ability of skeletal muscle to generate maximum force and speed of movement..

As a consequence, the Power-Force-Velocity Profile is based on force-velocity and velocity-power relationships that characterise the maximal mechanical capacities of the lower limb neuromuscular system.

Force-Time Profile

On the other hand, it deals with the assessment of the manifestation of force by means of the peak force achieved and the time required to reach it in a static or dynamic action.

Talking about the f-t curve is the same as talking about explosive strength (the result of the relationship between the force produced and the time required for it) or RFD (rate of force development).

Performance during the vertical jump is a functional measure that plays a key role in non-athletic disciplines and in anaerobic, aerobic and mixed athletic modalities. Its assessment as a basic and initial element is essential for vertical jump training.

What vertical jump tests exist?

In terms of vertical jump tests, the most common are:

  • Squat Jump (SJ);
  • Counter-Movement Jump (CMJ);
  • Drop Jump (DJ);
  • Repeat Jump (RJ);
  • Sargent Test; and
  • Abalakov Test.

Measurements of vertical jumps are made by means of different instruments, among which we find Contact Platforms, Accelerometers, Infrared Cameras/Platforms, High Speed Cameras and Force Platforms, the latter being considered the Gold Standard.

Finally, physical activity and sport professionals must orientate the contents, methods and means of strength and power training according to the f-v and f-t profile.

Drop jump

Drop Jump.

For example, what do we do if the athlete has a deficit in velocity? The contents selected will be related to power (explosive and reactive strength), planned, programmed and periodised through plyometric, assisted and resisted methodologies.

What’s it for?

Vertical jump training is an effective and efficient instrument within training methodology and programming aimed at achieving the following objectives:

  • Improving sports performance.
  • Increasing the physical-physiological parameters related to health.
  • Optimising sports technique in general and specific circumstances (jumping and catching ability).
  • To directly influence the muscular, tendon, ligament and bone function.
  • Generating high neuromuscular demands of the lumbo-pelvis-abdomen and lower limb complex.
  • Activating specific muscle regions: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, hamstrings, soleus and intrinsic musculature of the foot.

How to increase your Vertical Jump?

Traditional, assisted and resisted plyometric methods are widely believed to contribute to positive neuromuscular adaptations and improvements in vertical jumping ability.

In other words, they are effective work tools for increasing vertical jumping in people who orientate their training towards health or performance.

Scientific evidence suggests that the combination of plyometric training and traditional weight training are the best formulas for the improvement and optimisation of the vertical jump. Visit this link to find out about exactly what is plyometry.

But, what adaptations must be made to increase the vertical jump?

Plyometry

  • Muscular strength.
  • RFD (Rate of Force Development).
  • Muscle power.
  • Muscle contraction speed.
  • Cross-sectional area of type I, IIa and IIa/IIx fibres.
  • Shortening velocity in all fibres.
  • Peak power in all fibres.
  • Muscle stiffness (increased storage and release of elastic energy)
  • Inhibition of post-workout antagonist musculature.
  • Co-contraction or activation of synergist musculature.
  • Reduction of neural inhibitory mechanisms.
  • Excitability and synchronisation of the moto-neuron of the agonist musculature.

Vertical Jump Representation

Vertical Jump Representation.

 

Traditional Training (Weight Training)

  • MHC (Myosin Heavy Chain) expression of IIa fibres.
  • Decreased MHC expression of IIx fibres.
  • Increased motor unit activation.
  • Frequency of release.
  • Coordination.
  • Synchronisation of motor units.
  • Activation of agonist musculature.
  • Decrease in agonist co-activation.
From a more precise point of view, the methodology and planning of training programmes to improve athletes’ ballistic pushing performance (e.g. jumps) should be oriented around the following objectives:

Increase VTC-Pmax and/or Decrease FVimb

  • VTC-Pmax: is the maximum power output of the neuromuscular system of the athlete’s lower limb (per unit of body mass) in the concentric and ballistic extension movement.
  • FVimb (%): refers to the magnitude of the difference between the actual and optimal F-V profiles. A value of 100% means Sfv = Sfvopt, i.e. an optimised F-V profile. Values above 100% mean an imbalance with a speed deficit, and vice versa.

Changing the Sfv to Sfvopt

  • Sfv: index of the athlete’s individual balance between force and velocity capabilities.
  • Sfvopt: the optimal F-V profile representing the optimal balance, for a given individual, between force and velocity capabilities.

Power-force-velocity profiles

Decision tree for interpreting power-force-velocity profiles.

The determination of mechanical profiles allows calculation of the exact conditions underlying the maximum power (Fopt and Vopt), which is an effective method for increasing the energy production capacity and a great tool for the translation of data into an easy-to-configure load (Lopt).

In conclusion, improvement of the vertical jump must be based on an integrative multifactorial approach, as the prescription of exercise and load should be based on the following factors:
  • The qualities of SFv and Pmax.
  • Loadopt (simple approach to increase Pmax).
  • Specific programming based on force or velocity dominant stimuli, depending on Sfv orientation and target task.

Tips for performing it successfully

It is of utmost importance that the following practical tips are recognised by physical activity and sports professionals for the purpose of improving vertical jumping in two ways: Technique and Training.

Technique Tips

  • Maximise the use of muscle strength (fibre) (Squat Jump), explosive-elastic strength or slow CEA (CMJ) and reactive-elastic-explosive strength or fast CEA (Drop Jump).
  • Use your arms during the descent and push-off phase.
  • Use hip extension during the push-off phase.

Jumping capacity

Jumping capacity.

Training Tips

  • Develop maximal, explosive and reactive strength.
  • Employ Post-Activity Enhancement.
  • Improve the extensor musculature of the hip.
  • Employ different work methodologies: Assisted Training, Resisted, Traditional, VBT, etc…

The Vertical Jump as a competitive examination test (Spain)

Trainers and Strength and Conditioning professionals use performance tests such as the vertical jump to assess the athletic ability of athletes.

These tests allowed them to identify strengths-weaknesses, document progress and classify people according to conditional level.

Based on this, it’s important to comment on the types of vertical jumps that have been or are compulsory to gain access to the state security forces, degrees in physical activity and sports sciences, firefighters, etc..

National Police (CNP) Vertical Jump Test

This test consists of a vertical jump with counter-movement from a basic standing position, where the athlete’s objective is to touch the highest point of the target (wall or measuring device) with one hand.

The score will be determined by jump height and gender:

Men

Height (cm)Score
<430
44-451
46-472
48-493
50-524
53-565
57-606
61-647
65-698
70-759
>7610

Women

Height (cm)Score
<330
34-351
36-372
38-393
40-414
42-445
45-476
48-507
51-548
55-599
>6010

Physical Activity and Sports Sciences Vertical Jump Test

This test is based on performing a vertical jump (using the arms and the lower limb), initially predetermining the height of the subject in the maximum extension position (the arm closest to the wall must be extended and separated by 20cm), and then performing a jump in a vertical direction with the objective of achieving the highest flight height.

Local Police Vertical Jump Test

This test is based on the applicant standing in a starting position, side-on next to a vertical wall, with one arm fully extended upwards and without lifting their heels off the ground, and marking with their fingers the height they reach in that position.

18-36 years37-48 years49 years or over
Men41 cm33 cm29 cm
Women32 cm28 cm25 cm

The exercise is performed by standing 20 centimetres away from the wall and jumping as high as you can, marking again with your fingers the level reached.

How is a vertical jump test assessed

The scoring system and technical specifications of the vertical jump test will be determined by the nuances of the job to be applied for.

However, the common element in all physical competitions will be the score based on the centimetres of vertical jump achieved as a function of:

Physical Activity and Sports Sciences

  • The candidate can move the arms and bend the torso and knees, but may not take any part of the feet off the ground before jumping.
  • Four attempts are made (two on each apparatus) with a slight pause in between and the best mark obtained recorded.

National Police

  • One attempt only, though a second attempt is allowed if the first jump is null.

Local Police

  • You can move your arms and bend your torso and knees, but no part of your feet can be off the ground before jumping.
  • The jump must be performed with both feet at the same time.
  • Only applicants who fail the first attempt are allowed 2 attempts.
If you’re Sitting and exam, you might be interested in the best supplements for:

Bibliography

  1. Pérez-Gómez, J. & Calbet, J. A. (2013). Training methods to improve vertical jump performance. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 53(4),339-357.
  2. Lees, A., Vanrenterghem, J., & De Clercq, D. (2004). The maximal and submaximal vertical jump: implications for strength and conditioning. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 18(4), 787-791.
  3. Makaruk, H., Starzak, M., Suchecki, B., Czaplicki, M., & Stojiljković, N. (2020). The Effects of Assisted and Resisted Plyometric Training Programs on Vertical Jump Performance in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 19(2), 347.
  4. Benítez, S. (2013). Salto Vertical. G-SE.
  5. González-Badillo, J. J. & Ribas-Serna, J. (2002). Bases de la Programación del Entrenamiento de Fuerza. INDE: Barcelona
  6. Gallego-Izquierdo, T., Vidal-Aragón, G., Calderón-Corrales, P., Acuña, Á., Achalandabaso-Ochoa, A., Aibar-Almazán, A., … & Pecos-Martín, D. (2020). Effects of a Gluteal Muscles Specific Exercise Program on the Vertical Jump. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(15), 5383.
  7. Policía Nacional (2021). Oposiciones físicas CNP.
  8. Guardia Civil (2021). Oposiciones físicas Guardia Civil.
  9. Inef Madrid (2021). Oposiciones físicas CAFyD.

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About Ivan Sotelo
Ivan Sotelo
Iván Sotelo is a specialist in Physical-Sport Prevention and Rehabilitation, he has experience with professional football clubs. He writes articles in the HSN Blog and advice for workout routines.
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