Strength and conditioning coaches often fall into one of two camps when it comes to exercise selection for power development; those that are proponents of Olympic weightlifting and those that are not. The Olympic lifts tend to require greater proficiency in the skill of performing the movements. Thus, many individuals who oppose Olympic lifting think that too much time is wasted building technique while valuable training time that can involve greater loading with alternative movements is lost. Popular alternatives to Olympic lifts (and their derivatives) are jump-squats with a barbell or trap-bar. One can make the argument that jump-squats are easier to perform and thus can be implemented more easily with quicker progressions and thus illicit greater and faster improvements in power production.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the effects of using the hang high-pull or trap-bar jump-squat as the primary power exercise for enhancing lower-body power. A group of eight-teen (10 female, 8 male) division II collegiate swimmers with at least 1 year of resistance training experience volunteered as participants. The athletes were divided into a high-pull group and a squat-jump group. Thereafter, both groups performed a volume-equated 10-week periodized resistance training program. The loads were selected to optimize peak power outputs during the movements which corresponded to 70% of hang clean 1RM for the high-pull group and 20% of 1RM of the jump-squat group. Before and after the training program, all subjects were tested in the squat-jump, countermovement jump, and isometric mid-thigh pull. Measures of height, power and rate of force development were calculated from force plate analysis.
Post-testing revealed that both training groups significantly improved in each of the performance markers. However, no significant differences were observed between groups. While between group differences did not reach statistical significance, effect sizes (representing the magnitude of the difference) ranged from small to moderate in favor of the jump squat group for squat-jump height and peak power as well as relative peak force and peak rate of force development in the isometric mid-thigh pull. Therefore, it appears that both training interventions can significantly improve indices of power in college swimmers, but the jump-squat group made small to moderately greater improvements than the high-pull group in several parameters.
Oranchuk, DJ., et al. Comparison of the Hang High-Pull and Loaded Jump Squat for the Development of Vertical Jump and Isometric Force-Time Characteristics. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, In press.