Understanding vertical jump and sprint speed correlation is vital for an athlete specializing in short distance races.
Also known as sprints, if you wish to excel in 100m, 200m and even 400m races then, you need to have explosive power in the lower half of your body.
This is why vertical jump is considered vital for ensuring that an athlete shall excel in track and field sporting events. Vertical jump is a form of exercise that unleashes the hidden explosive potential in the lower body of an athlete. It targets the thigh, calf and lower back of the athlete.
While sprinting short distances (such as the 100m and 200 m races) an athlete requires immense strength in the lower body (as I have mentioned above). This is why, vertical jumps are considered essential for helping a short distance runner outshine his/her competition.
In this article, I shall try and explain why and how vertical jump can improve your sprint speed.
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Vertical Jump and Sprint Speed Correlation Write-up Contents:
1) What is Vertical Jump?
2) How is Vertical Jump Important for a Sportsperson?
3) What is Sprint Speed?
4) What is Power, Strength & Speed and How is it Linked with Sprinting?
5) How is Sprint Speed Linked with Vertical Jumps?
6) Conclusive Analysis
What is Vertical Jump?
Vertical jump is an exercise form that permits you to develop strength and power in the lower half of your body. You stand at one place with your feet shoulder width apart. With a slight bend of the knee, you push your body upwards. This action is termed as a vertical jump.
Basically, you are pushing your body in the sky vertically. While doing so, you make use of all the power, strength and flexibility that is present in your legs and calf (not to forget your feet).
With regular practice, the fibers in your thigh and calf area become stronger (owing to regular wear and tear). So, a vertical jump is a method that works on not only the ‘slow twitch’ but also the ‘fast twitch’ muscle fibers.
How to Perform a Vertical Jump?
There are basically two ways to it. In one method, you make use of your arms while jumping up (countermovement). In the other method, you avoid making use of your arms.
The basic technique is same in both these methods. Here is a brief description on how it is done:
@ You stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulder width.
@ The next step is to bend your knees slightly and then, spike (thrust your body) high in the air. You may or may not use your arms (countermovement vs zero arm movement) while performing this action.
@ While jumping high in the air, you maintain a neutral spine and avoid rounding your back.
@ The idea here is to push your body into the sky using all the power in your hips, thigh and calf area.
@ The kinetic energy is thus produced is responsible for helping you jump high in the air.
@ Land back to the ground and reclaim your starting position.
@ Repeat this exercise as many times as you possibly can in order to develop the explosive strength in your lower body.
FYI: Over here, I am not discussing how are vertical jumps measured. I have explained the measuring technique in my previous articles. So, repeating the procedure would be a redundant exercise that I wish to avoid. The idea here is to make you aware of how a vertical jump is actually performed by athletes.
How does Vertical Jump Benefit a Sportsperson?
When you are into sports that require you to possess explosive strength then, vertical jumps are essential (for the concerned athlete). In a nutshell, basketball and volleyball players (in particular) can benefit the most from vertical jump workouts.
Other sports such as handball, rugby, American football and even track and field athletes can benefit immensely by practicing vertical jumps.
Here is how vertical jump training is helpful for athletes:
Full Body Workout for Explosiveness:
By far the biggest benefit of exercising your body via vertical jumps is for developing explosiveness. When you jump high in the air, muscles of the hamstring, glutes and calves are worked upon.
You can easily hope to improve your power and strength in the lower body practicing vertical jumps. This exercise form also helps athletes recover from a sporting performance rather quickly.
Endurance Levels and Stamina Increases:
An athlete needs stamina and endurance levels in order to excel in any sporting activity. Vertical jumps help you achieve this aim optimally.
By first breaking down muscle fibers and then rebuilding them, vertical jumps strengthen your thigh and calf muscles. They also enable you to improve your endurance levels considerably.
Stamina is essential when you wish to excel in any sporting activity. At the same time, muscle endurance is also a contributing factor in helping you excel in any sport.
Both these acts are fulfilled exceptionally well via vertical jumps.
Helps You Develop Mind to Muscle Connection:
When you perform vertical jumps in your own, you tend to develop decisive skills. Your mind is at work and your muscle tends to listen to what your mind has to say.
This in turn enables you to develop the much needed ‘mind to muscle connection’. The main reason behind this phenomenon is ‘you’ doing all the heavy lifting on your own.
As vertical jumps are performed without any equipment or a coach, you (an athlete) become your own boss. This helps you develop the much needed confidence to instill ‘mind to muscle’ co-ordination.
Quick as a Bullet:
Your speed as an athlete is enhanced considerably when you perform vertical jumps regularly. Basically, you are always supercharged. The time needed to get your body in action while playing a sport, is enhanced considerably (when you perform vertical jumps regularly).
This in turn implies that your speed to ‘accelerate’ and ‘de-accelerate’ is improved considerably. It would not be incorrect to state that your muscle state is similar to that of a bullet. Vertical jumps can help you achieve that superhuman speed that other athletes may lack.
Stops Your Bone Mass from Deteriorating:
It has been proven time and again that your bone mass tends to deteriorate with time. If you are playing competitive sports then, it is but obvious that your bone mass density is bound to deteriorate.
Vertical jump is one such exercise form that shall stop this from happening. When you jump high repeatedly, you tend to strengthen your bones.
This is owing to a numerous stress fractures that are constantly thickening the bones of the lower body. The flow of nutrients is also optimal when you exercise regularly. So, your bones tend to continue growing and developing at a rapid pace.
Joint and Heart Health is Improved:
Vertical jump is an exercise that tends to strengthen your ligament and muscles. Your joints too are lubricated and strengthened against the usual wear and tears common to sportsperson.
As it is a cardiovascular movement, besides strengthening your heart, your blood flow is also improved considerably. This allows nutrients derived from the food you eat to reach all parts of your body. So, your recovery speed is automatically doubled.
What is Sprint Speed?
Sprinting can be defined as an activity wherein the concerned athlete achieves top speed by covering a short distance. This is a display of explosiveness by an athlete. Top speed is achieved by the concerned athlete within seconds.
An ideal sprint length is anywhere in between 60 meters and 200 meters. It has been suggested by various studies that owing to the depletion of phosphorous and creatine levels in the human body, an athlete cannot maintain peak speed for more than 35 seconds.
What all Factors Determine Your Sprint Speed?
@ Your muscle development and the power that they can produce are vital for your sprint performance.
@ The ability to breathe and maintain a strict yet controlled breathing pattern is vital to sprint faster. This in turn implies that your cardiovascular development needs to be improved considerably.
@ A good sprinter needs to be able to use the adrenaline rush to his/her aid. Rather than freezing up, you should have the ability to shoot out of the blocks like a rocket.
@ The fast twitch muscle fibers present in your thigh and calf area play a major role in propelling your body forward.
@ If you are on the taller side (but not too tall) then, you tend to sprint faster. An ideal height (required for a fast sprinter) is anywhere in between 5 foot 10 inch and 6 feet.
@ If you have longer legs, you shall have longer strides. So, the length of your lower body is a major determining factor on how fast or slow you shall sprint.
@ The speed at which you place your feet plays a major role in your sprint speed. The quicker your foot-speed, the faster you shall sprint (and vice versa).
@ Last but not the least, the wider your pelvic, the faster you shall sprint and vice versa.
What is Power, Strength & Speed and How is it Linked with Sprinting?
The ability to accomplish a task that requires resistance from the body in the shortest possible time span is termed as power. Basically, an athlete is termed ‘powerful’ if he is able to perform a given task in the shortest given time frame (when compared to what an average man would take to complete the same task).
Power is defined as the force that is applied by an athlete multiplied by the total distance traveled by the athlete. The end result is then divided by the time taken to accomplish the task.
Here, the strength and speed of the athlete is taken into consideration while calculating the power of an athlete.
Let us take an Example:
A 70 kilogram athlete jumps four feet high in the air in 2 seconds. So, what is the ‘power’ that this athlete uses to accomplish this task?
Well, here is the formula:
Force Required by the Athlete: 700 Newton (70kgs x 10)
Distance Traveled by the Athlete: 3 Feet
Time taken by the Athlete: 2 Seconds
Energy Generated by the Athlete for this Task: 700 x 3 = 2100 Joules
Power Required to Complete this Task: Energy / Time = 2100 /3 = 700 watts
There are basically 4 types of strengths that a track and field athlete (specializing in short sprints) needs to excel in the sport. These include endurance, explosive, relative and absolute strengths. Of these four, I (LeanAndFit research team) find explosive and endurance strengths are most vital for a sprint based athlete.
When an athlete is able to accelerate from standstill position to high speeds in seconds, it is termed as explosive strength. Explosive movement in short sprints is vital to allow the athlete to cover the distance in the shortest possible time frame.
Force output is maximized when the athlete develops explosive strength. Plyometric and resistance based weight training exercises with minimal rest period between sets, is the best way to develop explosive strength in athletes.
Endurance Based Strength in Athletes:
When your muscles are under constant tension while performing the same activity then, it is termed as endurance. This type of strength is vital for allowing the sprint athlete to maintain his/her acceleration for a prolonged time period.
Vertical jumps, weight lifting with high volume weight training sessions and running on an incline surface, allows the athlete to develop endurance strength. Relative and absolute strength is not so important for an athlete aiming to sprint short distances.
How is Sprint Speed Linked with Vertical Jumps?
Explosive strength when clubbed with endurance strength allows an athlete to sprint faster. Both these strengths can be developed and further enhanced with the aid of vertical jump training.
Vertical jumps tend to encourage the development of fast twitch muscle fibers. Countermovement jumps have been known to strengthen the lower body of the concerned athlete the most.
When you perform vertical jumps, both the concentric as well as eccentric muscle movements are enhanced. When vertical jump training is clubbed with jump squats and plyometric exercises then, your sprint speed is further enhanced.
Another advantage of performing vertical jumps is an improvement in relative strength. In simpler words, a sprinter who performs vertical jumps shall have superior strength as compared to a similar athlete (with the same height & weight) who does not perform vertical jumps.
Vertical jump and sprint speed are definitely related to one another. Over here, vertical jump is a tool to further enhance and improve your sprinting ability. While vertical jumps alone may not make you a sprinting champion but they can get you closer to winning a race.
By developing your endurance level and explosive strength, vertical jumps provide an edge to a sprint athlete.
The brownie point of performing vertical jump is that you do NOT need to be an adult to perform this exercise. Even a 9 year old can include vertical jumps in his/her exercise regime.
So, if you really wish to excel as a sprinter, do not forget to include vertical jumps into your workout routine.