Updated: Oct 29, 2022
Traditional Squats and Deadlifts are Overrated when it comes to Vertical Jump Training and Speed Development
This article might completely change the way you think about high-performance training and power development. This article will teach you about a fundamental approach to our training philosophy at Alliance Athletics. (2-minute read)
You will learn:
The relationship between your ankles, knees and hips in regards to force production
How to maximize your bodies total body strength
How to apply these concepts to your training
Force Production from the Hips, through the Knees and Ankles
What does it mean to train according to gravity?
When we jump or run we use our muscles to produce force. The prime producers of this force are our hips through a hinging motion. Although this involves the largest, most powerful muscles, this is only a part of the equation. The power from the hips is only potential power. In order for us to use this force to its full capacity, we must transfer this force downwards through the knees, ankles and into the ground. If we neglect to train our body proportionately, our knees and ankles will not be able to transfer the force and we will leak part of our power on its way to the ground. This can lead to inferior athletic performance as well as injury.
A study conducted by Cleather, Goodwin & Bull in 2013 (linked below) found that during maximal jumps the ankle was subjected to the most force at a mean of 8.9 X bodyweight, with the knee sustaining a mean of 6.9 X bodyweight and the hips only being subjected to 5.5 X bodyweight.
This means that when you jump, although your hips might produce the most force, the knees and ankle experience more force.
In short, the hips produce the most force, but the knees and ankles are often the limiting factors.
I like to use the analogy of a car. If you have a car with a hugely powerful engine that can propel it forward but our tires are flat, or our suspension is faulty, the car will not be able to use the potential power of the engine.
How to Maximize your Total Body Power Output
In order to maximize your potential, you need to "train from the ground up". This means you need to pay proportionately more attention to the ankles and feet than the knees, and more attention to the knees compared to the hips.
In other words, you need to be Structurally Balanced.
Follow these 3 guidelines in order to proportionately increase power.
Train the ankles and feet to be bulletproof and handle everything the knees and hips subject them to
Train the knees to be bulletproof and handle the force produced by the hips
Train the hips through triple extension exercises with the hips extending first followed by the knees and finally the ankles.
This way it will be impossible to become imbalanced, and you will jump higher, run faster as well as greatly reduce the chance of injury.
How to Apply this to your Training
All of our programs at Alliance Athletics train a structurally balanced body. While we do use squats and deadlifts in our programming, we often find that hip strength is not the limiting factor for many athletes.
It is important to realize that I am not saying you should not squat or deadlift, but simply that many trainers, coaches and teachers overemphasize its importance over other exercises.
Try adding these exercises to your routine to allow your body to use more of the power your large hip muscles produce!
Strength Through Length Calf Raise
Adding these exercises into your lower body routine and your ankles and knees will be able to absorb more force. This will allow you to use more of the force your hips produce!
Questions and comments welcomed.
Thanks for reading,
Cleather, D. J., Goodwin, J. E., & Bull, A. M. (2013). Hip and knee joint loading during vertical jumping and push jerking. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 28(1), 98–103. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3966561/#R50