It was with Karsten Jensen’s work in the Flexible Periodization Method (FPM) where I was first introduced to the concept of the “Jump/Throw” day. Years later with our own business coaching athletes I have really seen the value of including 30-45minute jump/throw sessions- as opposed to annexing a few sets and reps of them- into an athlete’s training program. Today’s blogpost will talk about why.
Why To Include Jump/Throw Days During the Off-Season
One of the reasons that strength training is so beneficial for athletes is because of the effect that strength work has on tendons. Weightbearing exercises stiffen the tendons so that their work capacity and robustness against trauma are increased, but also so that they increase their potential for recoil. Like an elastic band that is stretched, the stiffer, tauter band exhibits a more powerful recoil. But over time if this same rubber band is not asked to demonstrate its recoil ability it becomes almost brittle, and exerting too violent of a stretch on it causes it to snap. Although this analogy is simplified, during the off-season where the athlete is not performing as many plyometric actions to maintain the elastic quality of the tendons (for example, they are not involved in sport), the jump/throw day ensures that concurrent development of tendon elasticity occurs alongside the development of tendon stiffness.
It is the elastic quality of the tendon that enables athletes to exhibit athleticism in gait and agility, because both the stretch-reflex and series elastic component (the combination of the two creating what we refer to as “plyometric” actions) depend so much on the pliability of the body’s soft and connective tissues (muscles and tendons). Ensuring athletes maintain- or regain- their athleticism throughout the off-season is crucial to their health and potential success returning to sport at the start of the competitive season. The foundation for the development of speed and agility is essentially the recruitment and coordination of the muscles involved in jumping (plantar, hip, and trunk extensors) and throwing (hip and trunk rotators).
Jump/Throw days can also serve as an efficient form of aerobic and anaerobic conditioning that may be missing from an athlete’s program during the off-season because the demands of practice and competition are absent. Jump/Throw days involve moderate volume and require high-velocity, high-intensity efforts with every repetition, and a heart-rate monitor can be used so that the length of the rest periods are appropriately restricted with the resumption of activity occurring when the bottom-end of the “aerobic range (60% to 70% of heart rate maximum)” is reached.
Lastly, weight is typically lost throughout the course of a sports season due to the highly-catabolic stress combination of travelling, practice, competition, and generally lower caloric intake and quality. Due to this, athletes become accustomed to performing at lower body weights. With the coming of the off-season and the regaining of body weight, the jump/throw day gives the athlete the opportunity to maintain their athleticism and lower body power as their body-weight returns.
Most athletes train twice a day, and so jump/throw work can be included as an addendum to strength training 4-6hrs after the session. For athlete’s training once a day, one or two days a week can be dedicated to a jump/throw session depending on the frequency of strength and sprint work. For jumps, focus on multi-planar exercises that include both concentric and counter-movement actions, and vary the height of the fall/landing. For throws, use multi-planar exercises that challenge rotation in different ways with feints and a variety of throwing angles, and be sure to include throws that require the lower body to participate creatively.