vertical jump training

Nick Newman Assisted Jump Training Interview

Recently I was reading a forum discussion about the best way to increase your vertical jump when I saw a post by long jumper Nick Newman describing a method he called Assisted Jump Training.

Assisted jump training as the name suggests is a method of jumping that is assisted by an external force. In this case the external force is some bands attached to an overhead object. You attach the other end of the bands to a harness or similar that you wear which then helps sling shot you into the air quicker and higher. I have attached a video of Nick in action below so you can see for yourself what it entails.

Intrigued by the idea of assisted jump training I decided to contact Nick and ask him more about it. Nick very graciously agreed to answer a few questions for me and so here they are: Nick thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions about assisted jump training. Before we get into it can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Nick Newman: My name is Nick Newman. I am up coming elite long jumper from England and also a second year graduate student in Human Performance at California State University, Fullerton. For the past 4 years I have trained full time in the sport of athletics.

Over this time I have been exposed to hundreds of different training methods all with a purpose of developing speed and power. I am currently coached by Dr. Mike Young of Our program is predominantly speed orientated and short to long in design. A heavy emphasis is placed on acceleration development, heavy Olympic lifting and a wide variety of power development exercises. Where did you get the idea for Assisted Jump Training from?

Nick Newman: I initially came across the idea of assisted jumps training while at practice 2 years ago. I asked a friend to stand behind me with his hands around my waste. I asked him to push me upwards as I began to jump. The result was me jumping around 5 feet for a standing vertical jump. This really intrigued me. I realised that if we could train to jump faster, we could also jump higher.

I began to research the idea in more depth. I found very little in terms of research had been performed on the subject. I did discover that the most dominant horizontal jumps group in the world at the time used this method throughout the year in their training. Being a long jumper myself, this was extremely excited for me. Why you think it works so well and what did you hope it would do for your athletic performance?

Nick Newman: Training adaptation occurs when the body is subjected to varying overloading stimulus. I'm a firm believer that variety not only keeps the body adapting to training but that it also increases the speed of adaptation. Assisted Jumps training provides an angle of power development that none of the other methods provide. It also coexists perfectly with all other power methods.

Although studies have shown that AJT alone does increase jumping performance I do not want it to be looked at as stand alone exercise. To gain optimum results from this type of training all areas of power and strength should also be addressed Having used it for a few months now do you feel it has helped your long jump performances?

Nick Newman: I will not personally know the true long term benefits of this training until next season. Due to various European travels and the late assembly of the device I was only able to use it for 3 weeks. I can however, talk about the acute potentiating effect of AJT.

Through research we know that vertical jump performance is immediately affected by preceding exercises. For example, It has been shown that by performing heavy squats at around 85% directly before a vertical jump test can positively effect results of the jump. Although no research has yet been performed using AJT, I can tell you that the potentiating affects are fantastic. In the discussion of your article you mentioned you were hitting 37 inches pretty easily after doing some assisted jump work. How does this compare to your regular standing vertical?

Nick Newman: I achieved a gain of 2 inches on my vertical directly after performing four sets of six assisted jumps. This certainly suggests that an immediate positive performance affect is demonstrated when performing this method of training. When I first read your article about AJT you discussed the over-speed elements providing a neural effect. Can you elaborate a bit more about this?

Nick Newman: AJT benefits are mostly from a neural standpoint. The stretch reflex mechanism will be positively affected by this training along with rate coding within the muscles and tendons. Benefits to this exercise are virtually all concentric. This training method improves take off velocities not by loading the eccentric phase, but by unloading the concentric phase of the jump.

Research has also shown that optimum benefits from this exercise are seen when the eccentric part of the movement is kept to a minimum. Movement speeds are significantly greater than they are during normal jumping activities. Basically a speaking, the strength and power capability of human beings is greatly inhibited by our CNS and protective systems such as the Golgi tendon organ.

Training at high intensities and ultra high intensities (such as AJT) will decrease CNS inhibition. This will cause greater stretch reflex capabilities which enables one to generate more power in less time. This is the most important aspect reactivity in jumpers and sprinters for example. Normal plyometric exercises, power cleans and sprinting for example all affect the CNS. However, it is believed that AJT and its' ability to have a person movefaster than normal circumstances would allow, has a greater affect on the CNS and thus causes a greater training effect. Can you describe how you implemented assisted jumps work into your own training such as where you use it in a workout (i.e. before weighted exercises, after bodyweight exercises etc), and what sort of set and rep schemes do you use?

Nick Newman: Because of the high neural demand of the exercise it should be implemented at the start of a high intense training session. We placed it at the start of a power training session in the weight room or at the start of a plyometric session. You could also use it before a sprinting session on the track. As long as the dominant energy system being used that day matches that which AJT uses, it can be implemented successfully.

The most I would use this method is 3 times per week. I would perform 4-6 sets of 6 jumps with full recovery after each set. I would not recommend this dosage for athletes who do not have an extensive strength and plyometric background. For those athletes, 1-3 sets of 5 would work very nicely. Can you discuss the type of athlete and where they would need to be in order to get the most out of this type of training. For example is this the sort of thing a beginner could use, or would it benefit athletes that are only quite strong already?

Nick Newman: Any athlete who partakes in a speed/power dominated sport. This training is not only for vertical jump development. It can benefit athletes who need to be explosive in any type of movement.

Although this is an advanced training method a beginner could gain benefits from it still. However, a true beginner would gain much more from building a foundation of strength and low intense jumping activities first.

Power is a product a various components with one of them being strength. A stronger athlete is likely to gain more than a weaker athlete. I always promote strength training for all athletes. A strong foundation of strength will bring no negatives to an athletes performance. One of the areas I am very conscientious of in jump training is the degree of impact that is often involved, particularly with the ‘shock' methods such as depth jumps and altitude landings. Does this method offer some advantages in this area that might allow an athlete to use a greater volume of jumps without the same degree of landing forces, and if so would this offer more potential benefits than regular jump training (this is of course just generally speaking because obviously training volume needs to be individualised)?

Nick Newman: You have a valid point here. The forces on contact are going to be less than they are during normal plyometric training. This will certainly protect joints, muscles and tendons relatively speaking compared to normal training.

However, when determining the overall load of an exercise, one must take account for speed of movement, height of jumps and the stress of the CNS that this will cause. Although the contract force is lower, the intensity of this exercise is higher than normal plyometric jumps. Therefore, lower volume and maximal intensity with full recovery is suggested for this training method. Can you give us a very quick rundown of the practicalities of setting up an assisted jump training device. I know you use a Jump Mat to determine how much load to reduce your bodyweight by but how could someone who doesn't have access to this type of equipment go about setting something simple up?

Nick Newman: With the set up I am actually jumping on a force platform which is connected to a computer. This measures everything including body weight, vertical jump height and contact times. This is obviously not required or necessary. At the bare minimum you'll need a high ceiling with a secure fixing point, a pulley to feed the elastic cord through, strong rope, a belay to change and to fix the tension and a harness which will be attached to the athlete and the elastic cord.

One thing which is very important however is the exact tension you place on the rope. So far it is known that training with a 10-20% bodyweight decrease has positive effects on performance. Other percentage decreases have not yet been researched. So, the athlete needs to stand on a weighing scale while in the harness etc and pull the rope until his bodyweight is 10-20% lighter. Only then should he/she start the jumps. Nick Newman thank you very much for your time. Assisted jump training looks like it shows a great deal of potential, and certainly looks like a lot of fun. I look forward to hearing more about it in the future.

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