The jump squat can offer performance enhancing benefits, many of which are specific to weightlifting, functional fitness, and formal athletics (running, sprinting, sports, etc).
In previous articles, I covered the basics of plyometric training and their applications to force development, the stretch shortening cycle, and overall athletic development.
In this piece will will discuss the benefits of performing jump squats, and how they can positively impact your weightlifting and functional fitness performance.
Single vs Multiple Jumps
Before we dive in, lets discuss the two main ways to perform a jump squat. The first is when jumps are performed as singles, with the lifter resetting in between each jump. Single jumps are:
- Best for Beginners (less complex)
- Pure Strength and Explosiveness
The second way to do jumps is to perform them in a cyclical format, performing multiple jumps back to back to back. Multiple jump variations are:
- Challenging to Advanced Athletes
- Higher Stress and Loading Demands than Single Jumps
- Increases Stretch-Shortening Cycle Response
Now, lets dive into what makes jump squats so important for strength, power, and fitness athletes.
Like most plyometric exercises, the jump squat can play a profound effect on one’s ability to express power and strength. The neurological response gained from performing this exercise can result in an increased rate of force development and ultimately greater power output. The jump squat will elicit adaptations within the motor neurons to have great synchronization of impulse (contraction), ultimately allowing for faster and more powerful outputs.
Improved Eccentric Control
Thanks to Mr. Gravity, we need the ability to eccentrically contract and react to a downward force in weightlifting, functional fitness, and human locomotion. The jump squat can not only help us train eccentrically to absorb and react to downward forces at higher velocities, they force us to overcome inertia to change the direction of that force. The end results being stronger squats, rebounds out of the snatch and clean, and overall athletic performance (jumping, sprinting, being human…).
Proper Squat Positioning
Often undervalued is the ability to have jump squats program a lifter’s movement patterns and neural systems to stay compact and vertical while in the squat. This positioning is crucial to snatching, cleaning, and vertical jumping (most sports). Jump squats can create sound movement patterning under higher velocities, which is a sport-specific skill set needed in most competitive arenas/platforms/fields.
How to Do Jump Squats
In the below video, I demonstrate and discuss how to do the dumbbell jump squat variation. When performing with a barbell, the mechanics and principles of the movement should stay the same.
When programming jump squats into you training routine(s), understand that quality is far better than quantity. Here are my recommendations on how to implement this within your training routine:
- 2-3 sets of 3-5 reps
- Light loads (20-30% of 1 rep maximum)
- Best is performed at beginning of session often, however can be used at end. We want to make sure we have the maximal amount of motor units avaiable to “train”.
- No countermovements in single jumps
- Can use with dumbbells or barbells
- Coaches and/or athletes must decide if they are to perform single or multiple jump variations
- Jump forcefully to recruit maximal amount of fibers and motor neurons
- Stay braced, and land smooth.
One Last Tip
Start light and work your way into jump squatting. There is nothing wrong with jumping an empty barbell, as most of the work is the lifter learning to control and react under their own body, only adding resistance once they have been able to explosively move under control.
Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.
Featured Image: @mikejdewar on Instagram