Most athletes should consider increasing their vertical jump (VJ) Vertical jump is used in most sports, as it is sport-specific for any sport requiring jumping.
When we look at the effects of specific strength and plyometric training programs on body composition, vertical jump performance and muscular strength can help provide the best training stimulus for improvement. VJ performance has been related to maximal force, the rate of force development and stretch-shortening cycle capacity. VJ testing is a useful tool for muscular ability to generate power and can be used to monitor a performance level. Studies have shown increases in jumping performance after several training sessions with depth jumps, additional loads, combined strength and plyometric training.
Carvalho (2014) identified the effects of a strength training program combined with specific plyometric exercises on:
1. Body composition
2. Vertical jump height
3. Strength development of lower limbs in elite male handball players.
No significant changes were found in body circumferences and diameters. Body fat content and fat mass decreased by 16.4 and 15.7% respectively, while lean body mass increased by 2.1%. Despite small significance, increases in SJ, counter movement jump (CMJ) and 40 consecutive jumps after the training period (6.1, 3.8 and 6.8%). After the applied protocol, peak torque increased in lower limb extension and flexion in the majority of the movements assessed. Combining general strength-training with plyometric exercises can not only increase lower limb strength and improve VJ performance but also reduce body fat content.
Studies have shown that resistance training is able to reduce total fat content after a 14-week and 8-week program. The development of muscle tissue after a strength program seems to increase energy consumption which supports the decrease in fat content (Carvalho 2014). The current 12-week program did not influence lean body mass or body circumference. This might show that muscle hypertrophy did not accompany strength gains, as suggested in a previous study.
This study shows that coaches should use combined strength and plyometric training programs throughout the competitive season in order to achieve gains in maximal strength. This improvement in the capacity to generate force seems to potentiate the performance of specific handball motor actions such as the VJ (Carvalho 2014). It is important to note that insufficient strength stimulus can decrease the development of specific performance in handball and result in performance deterioration.
1. Carvalho A, Mourão P, Abade E. Effects of Strength Training Combined with Specific Plyometric exercises on body composition, vertical jump height and lower limb strength development in elite male handball players: a case study. J Hum Kinet. 2014 Jul 8;41:125-32.
Written by Chris Barber, CPT