Vertical Jump Training Frequency
The question of training frequency for vertical jump improvement is a question that not surprisingly gets asked, well, quite frequently.
It is actually a very good question because the nature of vertical jump training is both taxing to the CNS and the muscles and joints of the body.
Over doing it can do way more harm than good, but under doing it can see your results going nowhere.
So with that in mind it is time to discuss the concept of training frequency.
Why is Training Frequency Important?The reason training frequency is such an important topic is that by and large the more you can train the better your results will be (particularly for strength development). However, this statement only tells half the story. After all, I could go out and do depth jumps and lift heavy every single day but would my vertical jump go up dramatically? Maybe and maybe not!
IF, and this is a big if, if I could recover sufficiently each day then yes, my vertical jump would most likely go up significantly. However, if I am doing high impact, high eccentric loading work such as depth jumps combined with lifting heavy on a big compound movement like squats, then the more likely scenario is that my vertical jump would stall, or even go backwards.
So with that in mind the key driver to training frequency is recovery which leads me to my next point
The Factors Effecting RecoveryI will categorize the main variables that impact an athlete's ability to recover and therefore how frequently they can train into two groups. The first group are those factors that are athlete specific such as genetics, age, and training experience, and the second group are those that are training specific such as intensity, volume, and type of work done.
In terms of the athlete specific factors, genetics by far plays the biggest part in your ability to recover. You can take two people of the exact same age, gender, and training experience and put them through the exact same workouts, with the same diet and sleep, and they will more often than not, have very different results. The explanation is simply that no two people are alike. The one with the better genetics will improve faster.
This is not something to get worried about by the way it is just a fact of life. Your genetics are just a baseline for what you can achieve anyway. Yeah sure there are people who can jump like grasshoppers with little to no training and that is great for them. For the rest of us though we need to train hard and train smart, and then be ensure we do everything we can outside the gym or track to ensure we are ready to go again quickly.
Age also impacts how frequently you will be able to train. Like genetics, aging is simply a fact of life. Some common recovery issues facing older athletes is that their testosterone levels drop so gains don't come as quickly, they get injured more easily, and then they take longer to heal from those injuries. You see this with injuries in professional sports. The 21 year old rookie tears his ACL and is out for 3-4 months. The 31 year old veteran tears his ACL and is out for 9-12 months.
As you get older you just have to be smarter about your training. You need to listen to your body. If you are spending days on end with soreness and lack of results then by all means cut back, take a day off, or maybe get some more sleep. But even as you get older you can still get pretty impressive results. There are many powerlifters still getting stronger well beyond their late 30's. More specifically to vertical jumping look at Kadour Ziani. He is in his mid to late 30's and he is still jumping freakishly high.
Figure 1: Kadour Ziani. Still jumping like crazy well into his 30's.
The third athlete specific factor is level of experience. This is an interesting one. For beginners the higher frequency of training hastens the development of the neural pathways that enable them to become more efficient at their activity. This is the main reason why beginners see all those amazing early gains. However as the athlete advances these start to flatten out and the improvements come far more incrementally.
Interestingly once the athlete has advanced to a certain point it is often a combination of high and low training frequencies that works best. Short burst, higher frequency work prudently applied can result in some plateau busting gains, whilst at other times periods of lower training frequency are more beneficial as they allow the athlete to make greater inroads into recovery before the next session.
The underlying principle to this phenomenon is that as you get more advanced your body starts to get used to the different training methods. This facilitates the need to add more variety to your training regime in order to keep the positive adaptations occurring. One way of manipulating training variety is of course how frequently you workout.
As a note to this point, there are far too many athletes who think that they are more advanced than they are. I get a lot of questions from people asking for tips about how to use bands, depth jump height, Olympic lifts, and how much weight for barbell jump squats when all they really need to do is get stronger at squatting and/or deadlifting and to go out and spend more time just practice their jumping technique.
Now, I understand that this might seem hypocritical of me given I have personally written many articles
about all sorts of training techniques on this very site, so let me say right now these techniques
and ideas are to help keep your training interesting and fresh when your gains stop improving. For most
athletes, particularly the recreational kind, a simple strength program combined with plenty of practice
on your jumping will see you achieve pretty steady for quite a long period of time.
ConclusionIn this article we explained why being able to increase your training frequency is an important catalyst for improving your performance. We also discussed some of the factors specific to an athlete that limit their ability to recover and why this is important when trying to determine how often to train.
In part 2, I will examine how the type of training you do can impact training frequency, in particular
the types of training frequently done by athletes wanting to increase their vertical jump. I will also
provide some guidelines around how frequently you should train when using some of the more common jump
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