“I came to get down. I came to get down. So get out your seats and jump around!” No joke, “Jump Around” by House of Pain is the ringtone I set for all my clients.
Maybe I have been a trainer too long but I see that this song fits. Getting out of your seat and jumping around is a low-tech way of getting the heart pumping and the body moving. That is the first step to getting in shape. Get moving. Plain and simple.
Jumping, or even hopping, can build strength. Even powerlifters use light weight plyometrics to condition their fast twitch muscle fibers. Whether it be body-weight jumping of some kind or barbell movements for speed, conditioning, the muscles for fast movements create positive results to your overall fitness.
If you are struggling with plateaus on your squat, press or even pull up then some fast twitch muscle work may be what you need. Fast movements teach the body to recruit muscles in the right order for generating maximum power. No, I am not talking about turning you into a powerhouse hulk. But, being able to generate power efficiently will help keep you safe if an occasion arises where you need to spring into action.
One of my favorite things about jumping is that you don’t need to be super strong to do it. Other movements such as pushups and pull ups require some strength. Jumping is something that most beginning athletes can do to some degree.
Adding a jump to difficult exercises makes them easier while still allowing the body to engage in correct movement patterns.
Today’s exercises combine a little jump to body-weight exercises to change the stimulus. Adding a jump to an air squat trains for powerful muscle recruitment and helps develop strength in the squat.
Mechanically, powerful jumps are no different from a squat. Foot position as well as knee and hip mechanics are all the same. The only difference is the speed of the muscle contraction.
Adding the jump to a pull up is valuable in muscle patterning. If an athlete is too weak to hoist the body weight so the chin is over the bar he or she is missing out on the benefits of the top portion of the pull. That last part of the pull up is where the contraction is complete. All of the muscles associated with the pull up should be involved in the full range of the movement.
Do you know people who are good at pull ups but don’t ever really clear their chin over the bar? That is where this comes from. Performing partial range movements can be viral and blunt an aspect of your functional movements.
Jumping squats and pull ups also are effective in depleting your energy. After a few rounds you are sure to be huffing and puffing. This helps how your body processes oxygen.
When you feel tired, take a few seconds to catch your breath and jump right back into it.
Jumping can be a red flag for some athletes. Those with general knee, ankle or hip pain should find out why they hurt before jumping. Since the natural state of the human body is pain free, address your pain. Fix it if possible and then train to stay out of it.
Fast, powerful muscle contractions are a good way to make a muscular length-tension issue worse.
Those with back pain may find jumping or hopping makes their back pain worse. In my experience this is because of hard landings. If you can hear your feet hit the floor then you are not letting the energy of your landing pass through you. It is being absorbed by various joints in your body, including the low back.
I cue athletes to land like Santa Claus coming down the chimney — quiet as a mouse. Be sure the back is not too tight before you start jumping. See a trainer or physical therapist if you have doubts.
JUMPING PULL UP
Start: Begin by setting up a jump box or platform under a pull-up bar. Standing on the box, grasp the pull-up bar with the palms facing forwards. Hinge at the hip into a squat position until the arms are straight. Contract the core and back.
Action: Forcefully contract the glutes and jump at the same time you pull the chest to the bar. Return to the box upon landing from the jump. Allow the hip to hinge and the arms to extend to return to the starting position.
Perform 5-20 reps for 2-4 sets. Form flaws include not letting the arms fully extend at the bottom of the movement and the chin not coming over the bar at the top. Progress this exercise by holding the top position for 2 seconds before returning to the starting position.
Start: Begin in a squat stance with the feet positioned at outside-hip width with the toes slightly pointed out. Contract the core and straighten the back.
Action: Pull the hips down and back and press the knees outward like a regular squat. On the way out of the squat, gather speed when the hips clear the knee and upon hip extension, jump slightly off the floor and land in squat position. Begin the subsequent rep upon landing from the last one.
Chris Huth is a Las Vegas trainer. He can be reached at email@example.com. Consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.