Operation Atlas: Increase Your Power
Today marked day 1 of the next phase of our athletic development programme at Galatasaray. I change the emphasis of my programmes every 4 weeks to keep things interesting and to limit the ‘plateau factor’, or staleness that occurs without such variations. So, last week we came to the end of a very successful development period that I called Operation Bulletproof Monk, the emphasis on base strength development and injury prevention (based upon individual player screenings), and today was the start of Operation Atlas. Operation Atlas sees a progression of strength training, with more of an emphasis on maximum strength development with the start of a plyometric thread.
Plyometric drills are really important in explosive sports because they help develop a critically important variable called rate of force development. RFD refers to how quickly you can generate power. It is the steepness of the force-time curve. Plyometrics help develop this aspect of explosiveness.
So, this week, I thought I’d give you a bit of an insight into one of the plyometric drills that we’ll be completing during Operation Atlas. It’s a pretty simple but really effective drill called Depth Jumping. Depth jumps, when performed well, can dramatically increase power output and vertical jump height. Now, just pause for a moment and think about how many sports would benefit from improvements in these domains!
Depth jumps were first developed in the old Soviet Union in the late 1970s. They were originally called shock training drills because they aim to develop explosive concentric force output by stimulating the stretch-shorten cycle (SSC), i.e. getting a quick stretch on the muscles and tendons to precede a rapid shortening contraction.
Depth jumps are performed by standing on a stool of a certain height (usually between 0.5 – 1.0 m). You then place one foot out in front and then step off the stool before landing on both feet at the same time. The aim is to land on the forefoot (heels never touching the ground) and then jump as high upwards as possible immediately upon landing. The aim is to maximise the jump height but minimise the time spent on the ground, preferably less than 1 second.
The volume of training should be low, particularly for inexperienced athletes. This is because of the high load on the Achilles and patellar tendons that the SSC has. Inexperienced athletes should perhaps start with 3 sets of 8-10 jumps, twice per week. This can be built up to 4 sets of 10-12, two to three times per week. The problem can be that these jumps often don’t feel hard and so the temptation is to increase the volume too quickly before the tendon has had time to adaptively strengthen. The emphasis really is on quality not quantity.
The other thing to remember is that depth jumps should only be used in periodised blocks, never all year round, otherwise your body becomes accustomed to them and they lose their performance benefit.
Depth jumps can provide you with another tool to help you leap above your opposition so have a play around with them. Next week, we’ll have a quick look at the controversial subject of “The Core”
Until then, stay robust, amigos!
Articles and Downloads
The Drop Depth Jump
The depth jump is a plyometric exercise. Plyometric exercises work on the principle that a concentric muscular contraction is much stronger if it immediately follows an eccentric contraction of the same muscle. (Eccentric muscular action occurs when a muscle lengthens under load – eg the lowering phase of a biceps curl.
Plyometric Stair Climbing Workouts: Power Development
To improve lower body power, plyometrics can be used in stair workouts. To do this you can use single, double, and triple hops with either both or one leg at a time. You can use side hops, side-to-side hops, transverse hops and so on. You can even use eccentric hops.
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