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MOURA, N.A. and MOURA, T.F.P. Training principles for jumpers: Implications for the special strength development.

Authors:
Introduction
n South America, Brazil has for years
been the leading country in athletics,
and the horizontal jumps are among our
best events. Despite that, track and field has
not reached the level of popularity that we
would like, and the number of youngsters
involved in the sport is very low considering
the huge population we have. However, even
with the small numbers available to us, we
have always been able to develop world class
jumpers.
This tradition began in the 1950’s with
Adhemar Ferreira da Silva, one of the great- 51
New Studies in Athletics • no. 4/2001
Training principles for jumpers:
implications for special strength
development
by Nelio Alfano Moura and Tania Fernandes de Paula Moura
© by IAAF
16:4 ; 51–61, 2001
TRAINING
THEORY
AUTHOR
Nelio Alfano Moura (Brazil),
recently appointed National Jumps
Coach, has been working with
National teams since 1990,
attending events such as the Syd-
ney 2000 Olympic Games, the
World Championships in Seville 99
and Edmonton 2001 and the World
Junior Championships in both
Annecy 98 and Santiago 2000. He
has coached at least one athlete to
every Olympic Games since Seoul
in 1988, and has produced 30
National Team athletes. He is an
IAAF Level I Lecturer and has had
more than 20 articles published in
technical and scientific journals.
Tania Fernandes de Paula Moura
(Brazil) coached the Brazilian Team
at the World Youth Championships
in Debrecen-2001 and the World
University Games in Beijing-2001,
amongst other international
championships. She has worked
with many athletes who have com-
peted internationally in the last
few years, including Olympic ath-
letes and one World Youth Champi-
on. She coaches jumpers and works
for the BM&F – Funilense Team.
Brazil is the leading country in
South American athletics, with
the jumps events among our most
successful disciplines. The top
class results achieved by some
Brazilian jumpers recently have
been produced by a systematic
approach, based on concepts
firmly grounded on scientific data
and modern methodological
trends. With special emphasis on
special strength development,
some of the most important prin-
ciples we have developed in struc-
turing training programmes for
jumpers are:
Short cycles in preference to
longer ones in the annual training
programme;
Special strength training being
done throughout the season,
because training effects are
absolutely specific;
Quality of training (technique and
power produced in each repeti-
tion) is far more important than
quantity (tons lifted, or number of
jumps performed).
ABSTRACT
I
est triple jumpers in history. Da Silva was fol-
lowed by Nelson Prudêncio (Olympic silver
medallist in 1968 and bronze medallist in
1972) and João Carlos de Oliveira (two
Olympic bronze medals and World record
holder for 10 years). We should also mention
Anisio Silva (7th at 1993 WC), Nelson Ferreira
Junior (5th at 1997 WC in the long jump)
and Maurren Higa Maggi (1999 long jump
World leader; 9th best jump all-time, with
7.26m; 1999 and 2001 World Championships
finalist; 2001 World University and Goodwill
Games Gold Medallist) as successful Brazilian
jumpers. Our tradition in horizontal jumping
events continues, with the young Jadel
Gregório (21 years old), World University
Games bronze medallist, and the promising
Thiago Carahyba Dias, who won the long
jump in Debrecen, at the second World Youth
Championships.
We have the opportunity to work with
many of these fine athletes, and we are con-
vinced that these results have not been
achieved by chance. Within the space con-
fines of this article, we will try to present an
outline of the principles we have been fol-
lowing to guide the long term planning of
our athletes’ careers, and the implications for
them of special strength development.
Long term Training Organisation
We firmly believe in the statement that it
takes 6 - 10 years to develop a high per-
formance athlete (ARBEIT, 1998; PILA-
TELEÑA, s/d). In order to be considered a high
performance athlete, it is not enough to just
produce a big jump - you have to be consis-
tent! On this basis, Maurren Maggi definite-
ly belongs to such a group. On the other
hand, Jadel Gregório jumped in March 2001
a then World leading 17,13m. His second
best jump was 16,48m at that time, so it was
clear that, although very gifted, he had some
work to do before joining this group. A string
of good efforts (16,98m; 16,94m; 16,83m)
topped by his bronze medal performance
(16,92m) at the World University Games now
allow us to include Gregório among the best
jumpers in the World.
In order to guarantee future success, we
need to plan the entire career of the athlete.
We have done it splitting the entire process
into phases, as can be seen in Figure 1 and
table 1.
52
New Studies in Athletics • no. 4/2001
Training principles for jumpers: implications for special strength development
TTaabbllee 11::Phases of an athlete’s development. Based on THUMM (1987), GAMBETTA (1986),
PILA-TELEÑA (s/d) and THOMPSON (1991).
PHASE INITIAL AGE DURATION GOALS AND CHARACTERISTICS
SPORT INTRODUCTION 9 - 11 years 4 - 5 years Basic technique learning in
Sub-phase I: (prepubescent) Sub-phaseI different events
Foundation Self-esteem development
Sub-phase II: 12 - 13 years General and multilateral training
Basic Training (pubescent) Sub-phase II Games, fun activities
Adapted competitions
EARLY SPECIALISATION 14 - 15 years 3 - 4 years Technique refinement
Development of positive com-
petitive behaviour
Choice of a group of events
More formal competitions
LATE SPECIALISATION 18 - 20 years 3 - 4 years Technique mastering
Choice of one or two events
Increased frequency and inten-
sity of training and competitions
ELITE LEVEL 21 - 24 years Indeterminate Realisation of the technical,
physical and psychological
potential, expressed by elite
results achievement
FFiigguurree 11::Phases of an athlete’s develop-
ment. Based on THUMM (1987), GAMBETTA
(1986), PILA-TELEÑA (s/d) and THOMPSON
(1991).
Annual cycle Organisation
Since the sixties, periodisation has been
considered to be the most effective way to
organise the annual cycle of training. Nowa-
days, we see a lot of different alternatives
with regard to the structuring of training, all
of which are very difficult to be scientifical-
ly checked. What we consider important is
the selection of sound principles and making
our decisions based on them. Despite all the
discussion that goes on constantly between
sports training theo-
rists, some statements
are hardly disputed:
General training can
hamper the develop-
ment of special
capacities when it is
done concurrently
(DUDLEY & DJAMIL,
1985; HUNTER et al,
1987). Therefore,
high performance
athletes should not
try to develop gener-
al capacities beyond
what is strictly necessary, and these
capacities should be developed in the
early stages of training.
High performance athletes should be sub-
jected to specific training all season long.
When we talk about jumpers, this speci-
ficity includes the choice of the best exer-
cises, considering the type of strength and
the goals to be reached (Figure 2).
The training controls and prescription,
taking into account the volume of work,
have been overestimated. The proposed
values usually found in the literature are
too high to be done with quality in a
drug-free environment.
The biggest emphasis should be given to
training quality, so the monitoring of ath-
letes performing special exercises is very
important. There is no problem if high
performance athletes who possess the
ability to exploit their special capacities in
each repetition of a given exercise, per-
form less repetitions than developing ath-
letes, as long as the monitoring shows
that the desired level of quality has fallen
below the minimum level requirement;
We can repeat the phases of training devel-
opment (acquisition, maintenance, and
temporary loss) more often than thought
possible in the past. The formal structure
with two competitive periods rigidly deter-
mined has been abandoned. Short cycles
are better than long ones (TSCHIENE, 1989)
to prevent over-training and performance
stagnation provoked by the “complete
adaptation” phenomenon (Figure 3).
53
New Studies in Athletics • no. 4/2001
Training principles for jumpers: implications for special strength development
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FFiigguurree 22::Specificity in strength training. Squat was the training
exercise. Modified from FAHEY (1998).
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Strength improovement (%)
Squat Leg-Press Knee Extension
Strength development in the Jumps
events
Strength is the capacity of skeletal muscle
to produce maximal tension or force, at a
given velocity. Any tension generated by the
muscle has the tendency to shorten it, chang-
ing the joint angles and thus producing
movement. Strength is a determining factor
in jumping events, and can be manifested in
different ways according to its speed and
endurance interrelationships. (Figure 4).
The most important strength aspects for
jumpers are elastic and reactive strength,
but proper levels of strength endurance and
maximal strength should be developed to
ensure a sound base is established for the
improvement of special strength aspects and
for the prevention of injuries.
Even though the traditional approach of
developing strength by following the
sequence of strength endurance => maximal
strength => special strength still dominates,
new data shows that training transforma-
tions are not as straightforward as previous-
ly thought. In actual fact, when the stimulus
to the development of strength endurance or
maximal strength lasts more than eight con-
secutive weeks, deleterious effects on special
strength (BOSCO, 1985) and on the muscle’s
microstructure (WIEMANN & TIDOW, 1995)
can be noticed. On the other hand, ANDER-
SEN, SCHJERLING & SALTIN (2000) found
that when muscles are subjected to a heavy
weight training programme, the number of
type IIb fibres decreases (from 9% to about
2%), as they convert to type IIa fibres. How-
ever, after a period of detraining, rather than
just returning to initial levels, the relative
amount of IIb fibres increases up to 18%.
This data is very interesting, and justifies
the use of heavy strength training for 6-9
weeks but no longer than that,
in order to avoid type I fibre
development. This should take
place in the SPC block and also
be repeated for the brief peri-
ods (2 or 3 weeks) during the
year devoted to the develop-
ment or maintenance of maxi-
mal strength. A tapering phase
will later on provide an oppor-
tunity to reconvert IIa muscle
fibres into faster IIb types.
The complex or contrast
training method has become
increasingly popular among jumpers, and
most strength training programmes that we
use follow this principle. This method tries to
increase the possibility of transference of the
effects in the direction of the real competi-
54
New Studies in Athletics • no. 4/2001
Training principles for jumpers: implications for special strength development
FFiigguurree 33::A sample model of periodisation with structured block elements, and this is the
basis on which our athletes’ training has been organised.
FFiigguurree 44.. Three-dimensional speed, strength and
endurance interrelationships. Based on NEUMANN (1988).
120
100
80
60
40
20
0
= Introductory Block = SPC Block = Technical Block = Competition
(Special Physical Conditioning)
Strength
Speed
Endurance
Power
Speed endurence
Strength endurance
tive situation, playing with the central nerv-
ous system by varying the type and intensity
of the stimulus. Another interesting concept
- hypergravity - was introduced by BOSCO
(1985b), and SANDS & co-workers (1996)
corroborated his results. Their work indicated
that special weighted clothes bring impor-
tant benefits to power events specialists,
which gives support to the inclusion of this
procedure in the preparation of jumpers.
Motor units recruitment during
training for strength and muscle
power
It has been clearly shown that motor units
recruitment follows a sequence where the
small units (type 1 fibres) are recruited first,
and they are then progressively followed by
bigger units (types IIa and IIb). Even at the
early stages of a maximal muscle action, type
1 fibres are recruited first. (Figure 5). Howev-
er, there are exceptions to this principle and
it is very important that they are known by
the coach.
BOSCO (1985a) noticed a negative rela-
tionship between the development of max-
imal strength and special strength in elite
Italian jumpers. Even though he did not
suggest eliminating maximal strength
training, he recommended limiting the
duration of this training period to a maxi-
mum of 8 weeks. He justified that by the
fact that after 8 weeks, undesired ultra-
structural changes in the muscles can be
seen, such as a hypertrophy of Type I fibres
which will hamper elite performance (Fig-
ure 6). Before such changes happen, other
training methods able to develop type II
fibres (mainly IIb) should replace maximal
strength methods.
High velocity eccentric activity shows a
recruitment pattern that is exactly the oppo-
site to what is explained
above, something that is
also true for trained ballistic
activities. It seems type II
fibres are first recruited in
these cases because they
need less time to relax after
the action, which is neces-
sary for better control dur-
ing fast eccentric actions
(HOWELL, 1995). Plyometric
training offers a way to
improve strength and mus-
cle power with a selective
recruitment of type IIb
fibres, so it has an impor-
tant place in our pro-
gramme.
55
New Studies in Athletics • no. 4/2001
Training principles for jumpers: implications for special strength development
FFiigguurree 55::Size principle. Modified from SALE (1992)
FFiigguurree 66::Interactions between slow and fast fibres during dynamic and static action.
Reproduced from BOSCO (1985a).
I IIa IIb
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0020 40 60 80 100
% Max. contraction
Firing rates impulses. s.1
slow v = 0,0 m/s v = 5 m/s v = 8 m/s
fast A B C
Strength and muscle power train-
ing: responses and adaptations
Usually, training leads to a rapid gain in
strength in the early stages, without increas-
es in muscle mass. This initial adaptation can
be explained by better recruitment patterns
of motor units, and is called neural adapta-
tion (learning). The selective recruitment of a
higher number of motor units (mostly Type
IIb), activated at a higher frequency, and
with good synchronisation, is the answer
neurologically to gaining greater strength
and muscle power (SALE, 1992).
Structural adaptation (hypertrophy) occurs
later, as a result of prolonged strength train-
ing. Hypertrophy can be selective (only in
certain types of motor units, accordingly
with training emphasis), and can be the
result of increased amounts of non-contrac-
tile (sarcoplasmatic) and/or contractile pro-
teins (myofibrillar) (SIFF & VERKHOSHANSKY,
1998) (Figure 7).
We can find in the literature an interesting
response to maximal voluntary contractions
(MVC) known as post-tetanic potentiation
(SIFF & VERKHOSHANSKY, 1998; GÜLLICH &
SCHMIDTBLEICHER, 1996). When a muscle
does a maximal isometric action for about 5
seconds, there is a reduction in its explosive
strength that lasts a few minutes. After that,
a facilitating phenomenon occurs, and the
explosive strength potential is significantly
increased. New studies are necessary to
define a protocol for MVC during competi-
tion warm-up, but this offers some exciting
possibilities for the specialists in power
events.
Plyometrics
Since the 60s, coaches and scientists
around the world have been searching for
training means and methods to improve the
storage and reuse of elastic energy in skele-
tal muscle during the stretch-shortening
cycle (SSC). The so-called plyometric exercis-
es are able to do that. They are defined as
exercises that “activate the stretch-shorten-
ing cycle of skeletal muscles, inducing the
elastic, reflex and mechanical potentiation”
(MOURA, 1988). Several factors interfere
with this potentiation, changing the capaci-
ty to generate positive work during SSC.
Among them, the most important are the
amplitude and speed of the eccentric phase,
as well as the coupling time between the
eccentric and concentric phases (CAVAGNA,
1977). The most favourable situation in track
and field combines a small amplitude with
high speed in the eccentric phase and a short
coupling time.
Depth jumping, and its many variations,
are the most popular plyometric exercises
designed to improve explosive strength in
the lower limbs (Figure 8).
The drop height determines the eccentric
load, and its control is very important. Even
56
New Studies in Athletics • no. 4/2001
Training principles for jumpers: implications for special strength development
sacroplasm myofibrils
myofibrils sarcoplasmatic
hypertrophy miofibrillar
hypertrophy
FFiigguurree 77:: Different kinds of hypertrophy. Modified from SIFF & VERKHOSHANSKY, 1998.
though recommendations of drop heights
from 0.38m to more than 2.00m can be
found in the literature (LUNDIN, 1985), most
authors believe in the concept of “optimal
height”. NASSER (1990) claims that drop
jump tests are usually applied by coaches,
whereby they successively increase the fall
height and stop when the height of the jump
after the fall ceases to increase. The optimal
height for training is considered to be the
one that allows the best jump after the free
fall (BOSCO, 1985a). Figure 9 shows the
results of a female long jumper (personal
record = 6.20 m) doing drop jumps from
heights of 20, 40, 60 and 80 cm. In this situ-
ation, a fall from 60 cm was optimal for a
traditional depth jump, and 80 cm for the
modified depth jump (MOURA, 1993). How-
ever, other issues should be taken in account
when we choose the best eccentric load for
each athlete.
Figure 10 shows two curves of ground
reaction forces (GRF) obtained during depth
jumps. Curve A was generated by the jumper
mentioned above and curve B by a beginner.
We can notice that the shapes of these two
curves are very different from each other.
The most important difference is the first
peak showed in the beginner’s curve. This
peak represents the passive forces, and is not
seen in the elite jumper’s curve. High passive
forces have a great potential to lead to
injury, and do not contribute to perform-
ance. The second peak represents the active
forces. The passive peak in depth jumps is
57
New Studies in Athletics • no. 4/2001
Training principles for jumpers: implications for special strength development
FFiigguurree 88::Traditional depth jump (SPT).
FFiigguurree 99::Jump heights after falling from different heights, with two techniques. The subject was
a female long jumper of international level (PB = 6,20m). TDJ = Traditional Depth Jump; MDJ =
Modified Depth Jump.
TDJ (Best) TDJ (Mean) MDJ (Best) MDJ (Mean)
39
38
37
36
35
34
33
32 20 cm 40 cm 60 cm 80 cm
Drop height
Jump height (cm)
associated with heel contact with the
ground so, if the athlete touches the ground
with the heel after the drop, the height
achieved will be reduced. When this measure
is not enough to guarantee that the heels do
not touch the ground, the use of depth
jumps in training should be postponed.
(MOURA, 1994).
Even though plyometric training should not
replace weight training (actually, both should
co-exist in the special strength development
of jumpers), its variations are far more effec-
tive to develop the RFD (rate of force devel-
opment) – one of the most important compo-
nents of special strength for this population –
than the use of heavy weights (Figure 11).
58
New Studies in Athletics • no. 4/2001
Training principles for jumpers: implications for special strength development
AB
(N) (N)
(s) (s)
isometric force
isometric force
Max. RFD 24% Max. RFD 0,4%
PF 11% PF 27%
FFiigguurree 1100::
GRF’s curves during depth jumps. A: elite jumper; B: beginner
FFiigguurree 1111::Effects of jumping training and heavy weight training on Maximal Strength (PF) and
Rate of Force Development (RFD). Partially reproduced from SALE (1992).
Force-velocity curve
The classical work done by Hill shows the
inverse relationship between force produced
by the muscle and its shortening speed, both
in isolated and “in-vivo” muscle. Figure12
shows this curve, easily reproduced through
the use of vertical jumps with increasing
loads. Three long jumpers, of national and
international level (personal bests: 8.00m,
7.44m and 7.44m) performed vertical jumps
with loads from 0 to 30 kg. It is clearly shown
that performance decreases when the load
increases, which is absolutely predictable.
On closer observation, even
more interesting information
emerges. Both FRW and MRC are
in inverted positions at the two
extremes of the curve, showing
they have different characteris-
tics of explosive strength. Indi-
vidual characteristics or a differ-
ent training orientation can
explain this difference. It is
known that training displaces
each point of the curve upward
and to the right, but it also mod-
ifies the shape of the curve,
changing some aspects more
than others. A longitudinal fol-
low-up can show if training is
balanced or if it is influencing
any of the components of explo-
sive strength in the wrong way.
Force and power production with
different loads
Strength training with jumps event spe-
cialists should have the aim of developing
maximal power within a very short time
frame. Figure 13 shows the force-velocity-
power relationships, and makes clear that in
order to develop power, loads must be opti-
mal, not maximal. BOSCO (1991) suggests
the use of loads equivalent to 35-40% of 1
RM, which allows the expression of 35-45%
of the maximal velocity of the same
unloaded movement. When heavy loads are
59
New Studies in Athletics • no. 4/2001
Training principles for jumpers: implications for special strength development
FFiigguurree 1122::Force-velocity curve for three male long jumpers, built with vertical jumps data (see
text for explanation).
FFiigguurree 1133:: Force - velocity - power relationship for skeletal
muscle. Vm, Pm, and Fm are maximal movement velocity,
maximal power output, and maximal isometric force output,
respectively. Reproduced from KRAMMER and NEWTON, 1994.
FRW
MRC
RBS
60
55
50
45
40
35
30 01020 30
Load (kg.)
Jump height (cm)
Power (P/PM) & Velocity (V/VM)
Force (F/FM)
21
1
-1
0
Power
Velocity
Peak Power
0.3 Fm
0.3 Vm
used, and the bar velocity is low, it is impor-
tant to try to move the bar as fast as possi-
ble. YOUNG and BILBY (1993) have demon-
strated that the intention to move the bar
fast, is as important as the actual speed of
the bar if our aim is to develop power.
External pull support: facilitation to
create a new motor programme
RITZDORF (1998) suggests that decreasing
the external loads when performing jumps is
a good stimulus to develop the velocity
component of explosive strength. He says
that new, predominantly fast, motor pro-
grammes can be developed with the system-
atic use of some specific facilitation meth-
ods (like external pull supports), and that
these speed based programmes can then be
reproduced when the facilitation is removed.
Even athletes who are predominantly fast,
(but without a good level of strength), could
lose some characteristics of their fast motor
programmes if they do not have the oppor-
tunity to train them, due to a poor level of
physical conditioning. We use surgical tubes
attached to belts to create a vertical traction
that decreases the weight of the jumper, so
he can jump with very short contact times
and produce high muscle shortening speed.
This is a method that provokes a central
nervous learning effect and so can be bene-
ficially used by athletes of all age groups –
it is a special method but should not be
restricted to elite athletes.
Conclusion
Different methods of training organisation
can lead to high level performances. There are
also many means and methods to develop
strength for jumpers, all of them able to cre-
ate the prerequisites of elite performance. We
wanted to present here our interpretation of
current scientific and methodological knowl-
edge, and to briefly show how we use this
knowledge in our daily training sessions. We
believe that it is more important to clearly
define principles and concepts than to give
detailed information about the day-by-day
procedures and decisions based on them. To
stress them once again, the most important
principles we have put forward are:
1. Short cycles in preference to longer ones
in the annual training programme;
2. Special strength training being done
throughout the season, because training
effects are absolutely specific;
3. Quality of training (technique and power
produced in each repetition) is far more
important than quantity (tons lifted, or
number of jumps performed).
* This article is based on a lecture presented at
the I. Congress of South American Coaches
Association, Manaus, May 2001.
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Training principles for jumpers: implications for special strength development
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CONTACT
Contact:
neliomoura@uol.com.br
61
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