Strength and Conditioning for the High Jump, Part II: Applications

April 1, 2017

The rest of this article will provide a sample strength and conditioning program for a collegiate high jumper. This is a theoretical athlete, though it is based on the kind of program that the author uses. The rest of this article will provide an overview to a high jumper’s event-specific training, discuss how the training year is organized, then provide a sample training program for the collegiate high jumper.

Event-specific training

Event-specific training for the high jumper focuses on several parts. These include sprint training, breaking the event into components, performing the full event with run-ups of varying distances, and plyometrics. Much of this training will be conducted by the track and field coach (4, 5, 21, 22, 23).

The high jump is a complex skill and small mistakes or deficiencies can have a large impact on performance. As a result, the event is often broken down into its components or is shortened to allow the parts to be focused on. For example, sprinting training is performed to improve the athlete’s ability to perform the run-up. There is extensive focus on the plant/take-off in training via drills with few strides (4, 22). The full event will be performed with varying strides. In addition, extensive use of vertical and horizontal plyometrics will be used to enhance jump performance (4, 22).

In addition to the above, there are some unique aspects of how the high jumper experiences competition that should be taken into account during a training program. According to Bowerman and Freeman (5), these are:

  • A high jumper may wait 45 minutes of more between attempts at some meets. This should be practiced.
  • Warm ups in a meet may take place outside the competition area. This means that the athlete may have to warm up, then travel, then compete. Again, this should be practiced.
  • Trials and the finals may take place on two successive days. At some point athletes need to practice having difficult jumping days two days in a row to prepare.
  • Only 90 seconds are allowed for a jump.

Overview of the year

Before covering the program, it’s important to explain how the high jumper’s year is organized at the macro level. In this article, the high jumper’s training year will be broken down into competition, off-season, and recovery.

For a collegiate high jumper there are often two competition seasons, an indoor season that typically runs from January until mid-March and an outdoor season that typically runs from mid-March and can last until the end of June if the athlete participates in Collegiate and Outdoor Nationals. As a result, January through June makes up the athlete’s competition phase of training.

The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) does not allow practices to begin until the first day of fall classes or September 7, whichever is earlier (18). Therefore, this is when the off-season begins. The off-season runs through the holidays.

There is one transitional phase of training that is used with this calendar. Thisoccurs during the month of January. While the athlete will be competing during that month in indoor meets, these do not carry the importance of the later meets. Therefore, this month is a transitional phase between the off-season training and the competition season training.

Table two provides a graphical overview of the collegiate high jumper’s season, using 2016/2017 dates.

Phase of Training Off-Season

 

T1 Competition

 

Recovery

 

Months S O N D Jan F March April May June July A

Table Two: Overview of the organization of the collegiate high jumper’s 2016/2017 season, showing off-season, transition, competition, and recovery phases of training and the months associated with them.

Sample training program

The rest of this article will describe the S&C programs that the author uses to train collegiate high jumpers, based on the above. The programs are presented with event-specific training to illustrate how the S&C training can be used to complement the athlete’s event training.   A word about notations used in the tables:

  • Event specific training is the number of times it is performed. For example, 3-5 times means that the drill was performed for three to five repetitions.
  • Plyometrics refers to the number of foot contacts or the distances that should be covered.
  • Speed training is the number of repetitions at the specified distances, in meters.
  • Strength training is written as the number of sets x the number of repetitions x the percentage of the athlete’s one-repetition maximum (or it shows the repetition range the athlete should be lifting at)

Off-season

The off-season develops the physical and technical foundation necessary for success later in the year. Tables three and four provide sample training programs for the off-season. Table three illustrates the kind of workouts that would run into October and table four the workouts that would run through December. These tables are meant to provide examples; the training variables would change from week to week in a real program. The training is organized around two jumping days, two sprinting days, and a day off in the middle of the week.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Event Approach jumps (i.e no flop), 1, 3, or 5 strides, 2-3 times at each stride length Off Standing backward flop, 2-3 times

High jump, 1 or 3 strides, 2-3 times

Plyometrics Countermovement jumps, stick landing, 3-5 times

Scissor jumps, stick landing, 3-5 times each leg

 

Bounds, 3×10-20 meters Off Standing long jump, 3-5 times

Hurdle hops, 2×5 meters

Bounds, 3×10-20 meters
Sprints Technique drills, 5-10 minutes

5×20 meter sprints

Off Technique drills, 5-10 minutes

5×40 meter sprints

Strength training Back squats

Romanian deadlifts

Bench press

Bent-over rows

Standing military press

 

3×6-10×70-80% each exercise

Power clean, hang, bar at above the knee level

Clean pulls, hang, bar at above the knee level

Push jerks

 

3×3-6×60-70% each exercise

Off Front squats

Good mornings

Incline press

One-arm dumbbell rows

Seated military press

 

3×6-10×70-80% each exercise

Split clean, hang, bar at above the knee level

Clean pulls, hang, bar at above the knee level

Split jerks

 

3×3-6×60-70% each exercise

Table Three: Early off-season

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Event Approach jumps (i.e no flop), 3, 5, or 7 strides, 2-3 times at each stride length Off Standing backward flop, 5-10 times

High jump, 5, 7, or 9 strides, 5-10 times

Plyometrics Box jumps, 5-10 times

Scissor jumps, stick landing, 5-10 times each leg

 

Bounds, 3×20-30 meters Off Standing long jump, 5-10 times

Hurdle hops, 3×10 meters

Bounds, 3×20-30 meters
Sprints Technique drills, 5-10 minutes

5-10×20-40 meter sprints

Off Technique drills, 5-10 minutes

5-10×40-60 meter sprints

Strength training Back squats

Romanian deadlifts

Bench press

Bent-over rows

Standing military press

 

3×4-8×75-85% each exercise

Power clean, hang, bar at knee level

Clean pulls, hang, bar at knee level

Push jerks

 

3×3-6×60-70% each exercise

Off Split squats

Good mornings

Incline press

One-arm dumbbell rows

Seated military press

 

3×4-8×75-85% each exercise

Split clean, hang, bar at knee level

1-leg dumbbell clean, hang, dumbbell begins at above the knee level

Split jerks

 

3×3-6×60-70% each exercise

Table Four: Late off-season.

The jumping days (Monday and Thursday in this example) begin with a warm-up. After the warm-up, the athlete practices the event. At the beginning of the season this works on the phases in isolation and with a smaller (1, 3, or 5 strides) approach run. This allows the athlete to perfect his or her technique at low velocities. Plyometrics follow the event training and are meant to compliment the event workouts.

During the jumping days, strength training workouts follow the jump training and are focused on slower, multi-joint exercises designed to increase the athlete’s strength. The idea is that the heavier training will complement the nervous system demands made by the event practice and plyometrics.

The sprinting days (Tuesday and Friday in this example) also begin with a warm-up. After this the athlete moves to bounds to help with sprinting speed, sprinting technique drills, and then sprints that are focused on either acceleration or maximum velocity. The strength training work is focused around the Olympic-style lifts, whose explosive and low volume nature should complement the demands of the sprinting workouts.

As the off-season progresses, the volume of the strength training decreases while the intensity increases. In the sprints, plyometrics, and event training the volume increases as the off-season progresses.

Transition

The demands of the technical training increase as the focus shifts to meet preparation, the high jump is practiced in its entirety and jumps are performed on successive days to simulate the upcoming demands of major competitions. The strength training will become heavier. There will be a greater emphasis on single-leg exercises. The volume on the speed and plyometric training will increase.

The first transition phase will run into the indoor season in January if time permits. It is not unusual for a jumper to train through the first few meets as use them as warm-up meets. Table five provides a sample of pre-season workouts.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Event Approach jumps (i.e no flop), 5, 7, or 9 strides, 3-5 times

Standing backward flop, 5-10 times

Off Standing backward flop, 2-3 times

High jump, 5, 7, or 9 strides, 5-10 times

High jump, 3, 5, or 7 strides, 3-5 times
Plyometrics Box jumps, 5-10 times

Scissor jumps, stick landing, 5-10 times each leg

 

Bounds, 3×30-40 meters Off Standing long jump, 5-10 times

Hurdle hops, 3×10 meters

Bounds, 3×30-40 meters
Sprints Technique drills, 5-10 minutes

Stride length drills, 3×10-20 meters

Sprints, 5-10×20-40 meters

Off Technique drills, 5-10 minutes

Stride length drills, 3×40-60 meters

Sprints, 5-10×40-60 meters

Strength training Eccentric squats

Deadlifts

Incline press

Kettlebell rows

Kettlebell press

 

3×3-6×80-90% each exercise

Split clean, hang, bar at below knee level

Clean pulls, hang, bar at below knee level

Push jerks

 

3×3-6×60-70% each exercise

Off Split squats

One-leg Romanian deadlifts

Dumbbell bench press

One-arm dumbbell rows

Seated military press

 

3×3-6×80-90% each exercise

One-leg clean, hang, bar at above knee level

Clean pulls, hang, bar begins at below the knee level

Split jerks

 

3×3-6×60-70% each exercise

Table 5: Transition

Competition

The competition phase for a collegiate high jumper runs from January until they are done with competition (which could be June for a national-caliber jumper of July for an international-caliber jumper). Track and field competition involves a lot of travel and the ideal circumstances for training may or may not exist during the season. With this in mind, there is a need to maximize the athlete’s limited training time.

Strength training focuses on maintenance. Because time is precious extensive use intensity and volume is meant to maintain strength and power during this phase.

Event training puts the entire event together and practices it at real speed. This is unless there are deficiencies. If there are technical deficiencies then these will still be addressed.

Speed training seeks to maintain the ability to accelerate and achieve a high maximum velocity. If possible, it will be performed twice a week and on non-jumping days. Plyometrics will still be performed on jumping days, though the volume will be scaled back due to the demands of competition.

Table six shows an example of in-season training for the high jumper.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Event High jump, 5-10 times High jump, 5-10 times
Plyometrics Box jumps, 5 times

Scissor jumps, stick landing, 5 times each leg

 

Bounds, 3×30-40 meters Standing long jump, 5 times

Hurdle hops, 3×10 meters

Bounds, 3×30-40 meters
Sprints Technique drills, 5-10 minutes

Stride length drills, 3×10-20 meters

Sprints, 5×20-40 meters

Off Technique drills, 5-10 minutes

Stride length drills, 3×40-60 meters

Sprints, 5×40-60 meters

Strength training Split cleans + split squats, 3×2-4+8-12×60-70%

Romanian deadlifts, 3×4-8×80-90%

Bench press + medicine ball chest pass, 3×4-8×80-90% + 10 throws

 

 

Power clean + front squats, 3×2-4+8-12×60-70%

Clean-grip deadlift + clean pulls, 3×6-10+4-6×70-80%

Bent-over rows + behind back medicine ball throws, 3×4-8×80-90% + 10 throws

Conclusion

The high jump is a complex track and field event that requires a unique balance between strength, speed, power, and technique. Athletes must be able to achieve horizontal velocity, convert it to vertical velocity to overcome gravity, and must do all this with optimal technique. This can all only be achieved through the careful integration of all aspects of the athlete’s training program.

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