Strength and conditioning coaches tend to fall into one of two categories when it comes to exercise selection: 1) those that use Olympic weightlifting exercises and 2) those who do not use Olympic weightlifting exercise. The issue that some coaches take with the Olympic lifts mostly pertains to the complexity of the movement and the amount of time required for athletes to become proficient in the exercises. During short preparatory periods that may last less than 2 months, coaches are concerned that the athletes won’t be able to build enough strength and power in such a short time if the athletes are focusing on technique with relatively low loads. Instead, some coaches opt for alternatives to the Olympic lifts that are easier to coach and learn and are possibly as effective at improving strength and power qualities. These include weighted jumps, jump-squats, depth jumps and so forth. However, it isn’t quite clear how these training methods stack up against each other for improving athletic performance variables.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared the effects of an Olympic weightlifting based program versus a jump based program in 26 moderately trained adult males. The sample was randomly divided into an Olympic lifting group and a jump training group. The Olympic lifts performed were the hang clean and hang snatch. The jump training group performed bilateral weighted jumps and 40 cm depth jumps. Both groups also performed back squats. Training sessions were held 3 times per week for 6 weeks for a total of 18 sessions. Before and after the training program, all subjects completed a battery of performance tests that included countermovement-jump, squat jump, 45 cm depth jump, 20 m sprint speed and the 5-0-5 change of direction test.
The results showed that both training interventions significantly improved all performance variables at post-testing. No significant differences were observed between groups. Despite being non-significant however, the Olympic weightlifting group tended to show larger percent increases in peak power during countermovement and squat jumps. Overall, this study suggests that athletic performance variables can be improved by both training modalities and that one may not be better than the other. Therefore, coaches can choose to implement either approach, or a combination of the two with their athletes to enhance performance. The jump based program may be especially useful for coaches with limited access to weight rooms as this can be applied in field settings such as before practices.
Teo, SY. et al. (2016) Comparing the effectiveness of a short-term vertical jump versus weightlifting program on athletic power development, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Ahead of print.