In one of our recent posts, we provided a brief summary of new research that compared potentiating 10 m sprint performance with traditional back squats at 85% 1RM or with band resisted back squats at the same intensity. The novel finding was that squatting against bands enhanced 10 m sprint time more so than traditional back squats. A study featuring a similar research question, published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research adds more insight on this topic.
The purpose of the current investigation was to compare the potentiating effects of regular or ballistic concentric only back squats on squat jump performance in trained weightlifters. Ballistic squats were defined as “the intention to complete the movement with maximal velocity and accelerating throughout the entire movement”. This means that the subjects likely accelerated up onto their toes at the completion of the squat. Fifteen male subjects with a back squat 1RM of approximately 2x body weight performed 3 trials in a randomized order. The trials were separated by at least 3 days and involved a control session, a ballistic squat session and a traditional back squat session working up to a single rep at 90% of 1RM. Before and after the control, experimental or traditional squat interventions, maximal squat jumps were performed on a force plate with height and peak power recorded for comparison among groups.
The results showed that squat jump height was unchanged following the control and traditional back squat protocols (average squat jump height of 0.32 meters before and after control or traditional squats) and was trivial for peak power. For the ballistic squat jump, both height and peak power were significantly greater compared to the control and traditional back squat groups with small effect sizes. Additionally, a large and statistically significant relationship was found between relative back squat strength and their jump squat potentiation response.
Collectively, these findings suggest that pairing jump squats (and likely other jump variations) with heavy ballistic squats can transiently enhance jump performance and power production which can potentially facilitate greater training adaptations and thus on-field sports performance. This is likely due to the fact that trainee’s must accelerate through the concentric motion of the squat with ballistic efforts. In this situation, the braking forces that occur during traditional squatting do not slow down the movement. Furthermore, greater muscle activation and motor unit recruitment may also be a contributing factor to the greater potentiating effect of ballistic squatting. Lastly, the research suggests that increasing one’s relative strength may enhance the potentiating effect of ballistic and non-ballistic squatting.
Suchomel, T. et al. (2015) Potentiation effects of half-squats performed in a ballistic or non-ballistic manner. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In Press.