When it comes to increasing your vertical jump one of the constant challenges facing coaches and athletes is the ongoing assessment of the quality of your training. In the longer term it is obviously easier to see how things are going because you are either jumping higher or you are not.
However in the short and medium term monitoring the qualitative aspects of your training has been a highly subjective practice. Sure you can be putting in your best effort on each rep but how do you really know you are jumping higher, or generating more power across a variety of different exercise modalities (weights, jumps, weighted jumps etc)?
With your weight training you can tell you are getting stronger, but getting stronger isn't much good if you are also getting slower. When you are doing jumping drills results are always better if you have a tangible goal to try and aim for (or beat). Unfortunately measuring the speed of your weighted reps or the height of your training jumps has until now been impractical to do.
Of course there are other things about your training that are hard to assess as well. For example, wouldn't it be great if you could walk into the gym, and then depending on how you were feeling and how your CNS was firing you were able to adjust the volume and intensity of your workout accordingly?
Well, actually you can get all that information and you can make those adjustments. The solution is to use a terrific device called a Myotest which can be used to quickly and easily measure a variety of training variables including power output, ground contact time, bar speed, and of course jump height.
Coaches in the know have been using these units to get better results with their athletes for a while now, so of course VerticalJumping.com has been test driving one out. With that said, here is a long overdue look at the very innovative Myotest, which I believe all serious coaches and athletes should look at using for their training.
What Is The Myotest?The Myotest is a small electronic device that clips onto either the bar, or a Velcro belt around your waist. The unit itself weighs virtually nothing so it won't impact your ability to lift or jump.
It comes with several pre-programmed tests that determine a variety of athletic abilities including 1RM for bench press and squat, power, reactivity, stiffness, force, and velocity amongst other things. The tests themselves are quick and easy to perform and the results easy to interpret.
The tests that relate most to jump training, which I will go into a bit more detail about later, are the half squat test, the plyometric test, the countermovement jump test (CMJ), the standing jump test (SJ), and the half squat profile.
Interestingly if you are a member of our Vertical Jump Training coaching program you might recognise the plyometric test, the CMJ, the SJ, and the half squat profile that come loaded into the Myotest as testing for some of the exact same things we use to help create your custom training plans.
How To Use The Myotest?The Myotest has clearly been designed to allow simple testing for power related attributes. However, with a little bit of creative thinking you don't have to be limited to just initial assessments. A bit further into this article I will show you how I have been using it to better assess the training efforts of my athletes beyond the original test exercises.
But first a quick explanation of the jumping related tests.
The Counter Movement Jump Test (CMJ)
The CMJ test is the same as your regular standing vertical jump test. It measures the average jump height, power, force and velocity over a certain number of reps. In order to perform this test you complete several maximum effort standing jumps with a brief rest between each jump. The default setting is 5 reps but you can change it to anything between 1 â€“ 20 jumps.
Sample CMJ Test Results
The CMJ test is good to be able to quickly if you don't have access to a Vertec or similar, however the prescribed method in the Myotest user manual is to keep your hands on your hips. This takes away the arms swing and shifts the focus towards pure leg power. The reason behind this is that it helps teach you to drop the hips into the jump to improvetechnique and help generate more power from the lower limbs.
You can of course choose to use either method as long as you are consistent in your application.
The Half Squat Test
The half squat test is a weighted jump squat with a pause at the bottom. This test is designed to help determine power, force and velocity. To complete this test you load a barbell with the desired weight, descend into a half squat position, wait for the Myotest to beep, and then explode up into a jump. Again the default is 5 reps but it can also be changed.
Sample Half Squat Test Results
As this is a test that has you overcoming the resistance from a dead stop position its emphasis is on explosiveness, and as such the power and velocity results are the ones I focus on.
The Squat Jump (SJ) TestThe squat jump test is the same as the half squat test except that you measure your jump without any external resistance. Like the CMJ test the Myotest unit provides information about your jump height, power, force and velocity. Again, this test used to assess explosive strength (RFD).
Sample Squat Jump Test Results
The Plyometry Test
The plyometry test is designed to measure your reactive strength capabilities. To do this test you complete consecutive jumps for maximum height with no rest between each rep. Default setting is 5 but can be set for anything between 1 â€“ 15 jumps.
The outputs that the Myotest provides are jump height, ground contact time (CGT), reactivity index (based on a formula of flight time divided by GCT, eg 420ms/150ms = 2.8 reactive index), and muscular rigidity (stiffness).
Sample Plyometry Test Results
The Individual Power ProfileThis test is used to determine optimal training loads. Basically you start with just an empty barbell and perform a single repetition of a maximum effort paused jump squat. Then, based on the power and velocity of that rep, the Myotest instructs you to increase the load to a new amount (up to a maximum of 8 increases). After you load the new weight onto the bar you perform another single max effort paused jump squat rep.
The Myotest continues to provide load increases until you have achieved peak power and then declined for a few reps. In doing so the Myotest unit is able to build your power profile.
The outputs that this test provides include an estimate of your 1RM, the reliability of that 1RM estimate, maximum power output, the approximate weight at which maximum power output will occur, as well as some parameters for setting up your programming depending on your goals.
Sample Power Profile Results
This test is actually pretty quick to do and is something that could be used at the beginning of a session to help determine how well the athlete has recovered since the last training session. For example if an athlete came in and the power profile test showed that their estimated 1RM, power, velocities etc were lower than previous it might indicate that they had not fully recovered and a lighter session or less volume could be used that day.
If you find that over time the results are continuing to decrease then you can start to look deeper for reasons why. Altrnatively, if your profile tests continue to increase then you know you are on the right track.
Creating A Custom MyoTest Based Program While the testing information provided by the Myotest is great, I have found that you can also design programs that allow you to utilize the qualitative feedback capabilities of the Myotest unit in a much broader context besides just testing.
To do this you simply choose an exercise that has similar qualities to those used in the tests and build your training program around them. For example the half squat test can also be applied to pretty much any weighted jumping exercises. All you need to do is to include a pause at the bottom. Some good examples include:
Trap bar jump squats
The SJ test can be used for programming with any jumping exercise that involves a pause at the bottom such as:
Paused frog jump tests
The Plyometry test can of course be incorporated into a program with some of the reactive strengthexercises including:
As you can see from the variety of exercises listed it wouldn't be too hard to put together a simple program consisting of some weighted and paused jumps for RFD and power work, and some reactive based exercises for eccentric strength.
If you use this approach it is important to note that the Myotest unit itself won't know that you are performing a different type of jump, so it is up to you to track which tests were used for which type of jump if you are to get any good long term data.
This is easy to do however. The Myotest allows you to save different users and also numbers individual tests, so if you just make a note of which test number was used for which exercise you should be able to track and correlate the results easily enough.
The Myotest in Action
Limitations of the MyotestAs nice and easy to use as the Myotest is, and as useful as the information it provides can be, it does have some limitations. For example for athletes wanting to work on their running jump such as track and field competitors, or dunkers, it cannot provide qualitative information on horizontal based movements.
Having said that, Myotest have just recently launched a software upgrade for runner to help provide information about stride analysis. I haven't had a chance to check this out yet but I would imagine that if they aren't already, it won't be far away that running jumps could be used with it.
Other FeaturesAnother interesting feature is the ability to upload your test results to the Myotest website to track and compare against other athletes around the world.
For the really scientific minded people out there you can get an upgrade to the software that has a whole bunch of other features such as left and right leg comparisons, fatigue resistance, and so on. For most people this level of detail probably isn't required though.
ConclusionThe Myotest device is a very versatile and valuable training tool. It is easy to use, unobtrusive, and most importantly, the data it provides is exactly the sort of information that coaches and athletes can use to help make their training more productive.
The Myotest unit itself is relatively inexpensive when compared to similar products and the ease of use really does make it accessible to coaches and non-coaches alike. The company motto is â€˜train with information'. In this they have so far well and truly succeeded.
For more information, visit www.myotest.us
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RELATED ARTICLESExercise Selection - Smart exercise selection can be the difference between a massive vertical and a mediocre one. Find out what you should be thinking about when you decide what exercises you want to use.
Reactive Strength Part 1 - What is reactive strength, why is it important, and even better, how do you train for it.
Plyometrics Part 1 - Part 1 of our 2 part plyometrics article covers some of the theory involved in this type of jump training.
Strength Training Part 1 - Getting strong is vital for jumping high. Part 1 of our 2 part look at strength training covers the various theories behind strength training.
Ground Contact Time - An analysis of the role ground contact time has in plyometrics.
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