How I Broke a Stubborn Record

Today’s article is a guest post from Will Vatcher. I found it quite interesting as I’d never seen anyone train specifically for a broad jump record. If you recall, Will interviewed Natalia Verkhoshansky HERE several weeks ago. 

For the 1st time in 3 years, I recently broke my broad jump record. For the 1st time since last year I also smashed my weighted broad jump record too. These had both stalled previously. I would like to share with you how I did this.

I have always played a lot of football (I’m English but I mean soccer) so I’ve always been used to a lot of sprinting and jumping on the pitch. I started doing broad jumps on a weekly basis in 2010. After several weeks I managed a 242cm jump. I would also do other jumps such as jumping while holding dumbbells in my hands. For a while I kept increasing my jumps. Then not only did I hit a plateau with them, I could only ever seem to achieve 237cm from then on. I tried breaking down the jumps by using percentages. No use.

Now, I love the Westside system. I love the way it is designed to build balance and eliminate weaknesses. After reading a number of Louie’s articles on their jump training, I started to use either a max jump or use percentages of a max for the desired reps. When it came to the loading parameters, I took his advice and looked to Prilepin’s table.

prilepins-table

Prilepin’s Table

I love Prilepin’s table. It is remarkably accurate. For example, for exercises that are performed in the 90-100% intensity range he recommended the following:

No less than 4 reps in total

1-2 reps per set

No more than 10 reps in total

The optimal number of reps is 7

I had tinkered round with percentages ranging from 60-100% and kept rest periods to 45 second per set. Regardless, my broad jump didn’t increase.

After the jump training, I would do some assistance exercises such as hip thrusts. I would also have a max effort lower body day and upper body day followed by exercises such as glute ham raises, low box squats, heavy abs/oblique’s, rows, triceps extensions and presses.

Some time ago, I started to do much research on the works of Yuri Verkhoshansky and his daughter Natalia. Up till then I never paid too much attention to the type of jump I did, just as long as it’s done with maximal effort at the particular percentage of a max I chose and the jump is rotated regularly.

What I discovered was that there is a massive difference in outcome from using different types of jumps (just as in all exercises). Firstly, what we commonly call a depth jump is not a depth jump at all. It is a drop jump. It was actually largely introduced by a man named Carmelo Bosco. Bosco was influenced by the research of Paavo Komi.

Yuri Verkoshansky devised the depth jump to have a longer (but not excessively long) and more elastic amortization phase. In other words, you would land from a height of either 0.75m or 1.1m (Verkoshansky’s recommended heights), fully absorb the landing with knee flexion and jump as far as possible.

A drop jump on the other hand is what most people would define as a depth jump. It is characterised by an extremely short amortization phase followed by an instantaneous effort to jump as far as possible with the shortest ground contact time possible. The recommended dropping height is 20-60cm.

While it might seem subtle, that’s a big difference.

TGC-Combine-Broad-Jump

Now back to the broad jumps. With this information I did an experiment. Up until recently, I had been doing broad jumps based on my max jump but with a very short amortization phase (balls of feet touching ground for a fraction of a second). I noticed that I did not seem to be getting much out of them. I have always been naturally quick so this was not my weak spot. But quick amortization was what I was training repeatedly. No wonder I hit a brick wall. So I tried landing with my entire foot to fully absorb the force before resetting for another rep. I noticed that I went into greater knee flexion using this method. Now, up until this time I had been using this method for my max broad jump only. When using percentages, I would use the ultra-short ground contact. I tried it with the following based on a broad jump max of 242cm:

Week one: 75% of 242 for 8 sets of 3

Week two: 80% of 242 for 10 sets of 2

Week 3: 85% of 242 for 10 sets of 2

Week four test max… 246cm. 4 cm PR. Coincidence? Maybe.

I also set a broad jump record of 220cm with ankle weights last year. So I did a cycle the same way the following week:

Week 1: 75% of 220 for 8 sets of 3(wearing ankle weights)

Week 2: 80% of 220 for 10 sets of 2(wearing ankle weights)

Week 3: 85% of 220 for 10 sets of 2(wearing ankle weights)

Week four test max… 238cm, with ankle weights. 18cm PR.  Another coincidence?

I also broke all my good morning and squat maxes during this period. I do set records most weeks in these exercises, but I broke them by big margins AND set jump records that I hadn’t done for ages.

MirandaIMGTrainingBroadJump

That’s a pretty good deal better than before. Don’t forget, I  was also using special exercises such a glute hams raises and squats and I max out once a week on a good morning or squat variation. I believe that absolute strength builds the foundation of force that is displayed during explosive efforts. I would also like to give credit to Bret Contreras for introducing specialized vector specific glute movements which I now do every week. In my opinion, they greatly help with horizontal force production (sprinting or broad jumps).

I am confident I can keep pushing it up further.

I hope this info can help you as much as it has helped me and several of the people I have the pleasure of training.

About the Author

Will Vatcher is a strength & conditioning coach based in Cambridgeshire, England. He has written several articles on training and published interviews with Louie Simmons & Fred Hatfield (Dr. Squat) on www.about-muscle.com. He can be contacted via email willvatcher@hotmail.com for information on articles and training.

8 Comments

  • Jake says:

    Awesome read. Definitely going to use some of this methods with my high school athletes. Was always told to have the shortest amortization phase too! Out with old and in with the new baby!

  • Chris says:

    Great guest post 🙂

    How many days per week were you completing the jumps & squats/good mornings? And were these separate sessions or combined training methods?

    Well done on the PBs by the way!

    • Will Vatcher says:

      Hi Chris,

      I only jump once per week. I max every week on 3 types of good mornings & 3 types of low box squats(I switch every week – after 6 weeks I’m back to the first variation again and then hopefully beat records on the next wave – hopefully!). I personally find I get more strength gain from these than deadlift variations. It is always a one rep max for 4 sets working as heavy as possible. I then follow up with glute ham raises, straight leg sit-ups, suitcase deadlifts(for oblique’s and grip) and low wide stance box squats. I switch the way I do these movements or occasionally do different ones to avoid accommodation For max strength gain I would suggest keeping the reps below 10 on “heavy days”, maybe even 5-6 for assistance work. I would definitely use other rep ranges too in separate workouts though as you hit different muscle fibres. This may sound controversial but I don’t ever rest 3 mins between my sets like some people do. For max effort work it’s 2 mins. Rep work is 30 secs. I have had excellent results using this method with myself and others. You must increase explosive strength and absolute strength to keep your jumps going up. One without the other will bring you to a grinding halt after a while. Same with sprinting.

    • Will Vatcher says:

      Sorry Chris, I max out and jump on different days but it’s only a preference. Jumping in your warm-up for max effort work is great too.

  • I had a sobering moment at a track meet 2 weeks ago when I asked them to measure my broad jump.

    The last time I measured my jump was just after college — 10′ 5″ (BTW, I’m 5’5″).

    This time… at age 51… 8’5″

    I can’t remember the last time I was so depressed. And it’s not like I’m out of shape; I’m an All-American Masters sprinter (12.2 100m).

    I’m going to have to play with this program and see what happens!

    • Rob Panariello says:

      Steven,

      I commend you for your continued outstanding athletic achievements. Just a word for some continued discussion, collagen. As you know collagen is the main component in connective tissue and is one of the most abundant proteins in mammals. It is mostly found in fibrous tissues of the body such as muscle, ligament and especially tendon.

      Throughout the past 20+ years I have had many various topic discussions with Dr. Scott Rodeo, whom I’ve know since he was a Sports Medicine Fellow at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in NYC. Dr. Rodeo is the Co-Chief of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at HSS, associate team physician for the NFL NY Giants, and also has a specialty in soft tissue and cartilage as he also works in the Laboratory for Soft Tissue Research at HSS. One of our many continued discussions includes the topic of collagen and how it is affected by age. The brief explanation is that collagen cells are replaced just as any other cell of the body. However, as humans age (late 20’s into early 30’s) the number of collagen cells replenished as well as the quality of the cells produced is reduced. This process continues with age. This is one reason why athletes lose their elastic abilities as they get older.

      Recollect some of the elite athletes who ruptured their Achilles tendon later in their career and never returned to the same level of performance, if returning to compete at all. Even though these athlete’s were in good condition, why did they rupture their Achilles tendon in their later years and not earlier in their career? After sustaining this injury why were they never the same athlete again? (After Donovan Bailey ruptured his Achilles I believe he never ran a sub 10 second 100 meter’s again and eventually retired). One reason is the change in the quality of collagen.

      At age 51 I’m sure you’re in excellent condition, especially to qualify as an “All-American Masters” sprinter. That said, like any other 51 year old, your body and the quality of your connective tissue have changed since the sprinting performances of your college years. I caution you re: the utilization of drop and depth jumps in your training. I’m not instructing you not to jump, but be careful of the type and volume of jumps and be aware that the program performed by Will may not be suited for a 51 year old athlete. If you rupture your Achilles tendon the odds are in favor of this being a career (sprinting) ending injury. I’ve lost count of how may middle aged athletes I’ve treated in my 30+ year career who ruptured their Achilles tendon performing an inappropriate (for them) plyometric training program.

      Keep it simple, i.e. stay strong ( a “mechanical” force application into the ground surface area) to replace the loss in elastic abilities and continue to do all the “little things” to enhance your sprinting performance.

      Just my opinion. Good luck.

      Rob Panariello

      • Thanks, Rob…

        I think the least understood and most underserved segment of the health and fitness market is 45+ athletes, especially older power athletes.

        Most of the training and nutrition information is written by and geared towards people who haven’t yet lived through some of the changes you’re describing (and many others).

        On FB the other day, a 35 year old I know posted a question: “How much of aging is just in your mind?” I replied “You only asked that question because you’re not old enough.” 😉

        While I’m a shadow of my 25-year-ago self (as my broad jump performance demonstrates), I still seem to be gaining in strength and speed since I started training again 5 years ago. That said, learning to do less and recover more is still the hardest lesson I’ve ever had to learn (and am still learning).

        • Will Vatcher says:

          I think Rob is spot on there. That’s why GPP is so important for everyone but especially older guys. Often young guys can get away with playing sport with no extra training. But after a while wear and tear takes place and imbalances become pronounced. If you keep working on pushing the strength of your muscles up(hamstrings, glutes, obliques & low back) and keeping muscular balance(hamstrings & glutes are primary sprint movers – if quad strength becomes too high in relation to hamstring and glute strength you are asking for a torn hamstring) in primary sprinting movers you will be in a good position to maintain high quality training. Keeping flexibility training high is also a priority and you will be much less likely to suffer injury(many hamstring pulls come from tight hip flexors). Keeping connective tissue health high is essential too. I believe the recommendation by Louie Simmons is too do extra workouts in the 100-200 reps range with light weights to increase ligament and tendon density. At Westside they do things like 200 rep leg curls with light ankle weights several times per week. It is very therapeutic too and aids in recovery.

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