Jumping High – Cutting Cardio

Most athletes utilize explosive exercises in training for their sport. And rightly so. Most sports movement is fast, so it is important to increase the ability to generate force quickly. Many athletes, however, do not realize that when training for explosiveness, they are primarily training the nervous system. The speed of the activation of motor units is the biggest factor that affects explosive ability.

The nervous system will adapt to whatever demands are placed on it. If an athlete consistently performs power lifts like the clean and snatch as a part of training, that athlete’s nervous system will learn to activate fast, powerful muscle contractions. On the other hand, when that same athlete goes for a light jog at the end of a workout in order to burn a few extra calories, the nervous system is being taught to activate slower, less forceful muscle contractions. This is detrimental to the athlete’s cause.

Given this information, it is important that you pay attention to what signals you send your body during training and during daily life. For example, I am a college student; I often bike to my classes or to the YMCA to coach basketball. Every time I get on my bike it pains me to know that I am about to use relatively slow, weak muscle contractions. Often times I will use short bursts of hard pedaling followed by cruising just to feel better. Also, when doing lower body strength training, my goal is always to move the weight as fast as possible. Settling for just getting the rep completed is not good enough when my primary goal is to jump higher. Jumping is a maximum effort activity, so nothing less should be used in training.

If you are addicted to jogging or love jumping on the stationary bike, don’t expect maximum results in training for jumping or any explosive activity. Any training of submaximal effort will be detrimental to your efforts. Jumping is not a measure of endurance; it is a measure of high performance. Your jump training should reflect that.

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