What’s the best plyometric movement you’ve never seen?
In this edition of our “plyometric of the week” series, I’d like to share an interesting exercise that I don’t often see: drop jumps with an accentuated downward punch of the legs, or “altitude drop legs”.
I’ve actually seen athletes do this in the past (albeit with poor posture, and turning it into a depth jump) and scoffed to myself about whoever was performing this movement, and if they had any idea what they were doing.
Fast-forward about 5 years, and I’ve been working with, and talking to coaches and athletes well versed in training and associated neurology. I was recently exposed to this leg-drop style depth drop movement with fresh eyes, and when properly performed, it is an amazing exercise.
Something I’ve considered over the years is why doing 30 depth jumps from a 24-30” box, over a hurdle or up to a target is much much more taxing in terms of how you will feel the next day, versus doing 4×8 hurdle hops over 36” hurdles.
There’s something innately different in doing 4×8 36” hurdle hops vs. 32 depth jumps from a 24-30 inch box over a 36” hurdle, and that is the reflexive nature of the hurdle jumps. Something I’ve learned from Dan Fichter is that engaging the reflex system of the body offers innate neural recovery to the athlete.
With each hurdle jump, the act of bringing the knees up and down engages a reflexive action the flexes and extends the hip. I’ve found that this reflexive action can also lead to more dynamic, stiffer landings in a depth drop setting, in addition to the recovery implications.
Points to watch here are how fast an athlete can bring the stance leg knee up to meet the raised knee, and also how fast the athlete can bring the legs down together in sequence. Just doing this compared to a typical depth drop, once an athlete “gets it” will offer excellent benefits. You can utilize it in training phases featuring altitude and drop jumps, or sprinkle it in throughout a program because it it’s useful nature.
I’ve found that athletes can do this exercise on a high frequency scale, and even a daily basis, although not in high volumes. 5-10 reps a day is a nice add-on to many programs without pushing athletes into the sluggishness that comes from going beyond that “minimal dose” of this effective training method.
If you enjoy this series, and want to see how to put these exercises together in context of a complete program, check out our books and training groups, particularly “Vertical Ignition” and “Legendary Athleticism”. Be a part of the revolutionary training systems that are getting dozens of athletes to lifetime bests in speed, jumping and explosive power!