S&C coach Tommy Munday shares the science behind Trap Bar Jumps – an effective exercise that’s led to some impressive results in strength and speed with our athletes.
Trap Bar Jumps can be used as a speed-strength exercise to improve force production and rate of force development (RFD).
Loaded Jump movements produce equal improvements in lower body RFD compared to Olympic Lifting variations with less teaching and learning time.
Our in-house research has helped to determine optimal loading and velocity targets to optimise and improve strength, speed and explosiveness in boxers.
What are Trap Bar Jumps, and why do we use them?
Trap Bar Jumps are an explosive, dynamic version of Trap Bar Deadlifts. Instead of stopping at the top of the movement, the athlete carries on accelerating through the motion to leave the floor and jump as high as possible.
The jumping action allows the movement to be performed at higher forces and velocities.
During Strength-Speed phases, traditional S&C programming utilises Olympic Lifting variations, such as Cleans, Power Cleans, and Clean Pulls.
These are fantastic exercises for improving the strength, speed and explosiveness of our athletes.
However, these exercises are technically demanding – and the amount of load can be restricted due to mobility issues and technical faults.
A restriction in the amount of load lifted can affect the amount of force developed during Olympic lifting….
We can increase the load with improved technique, however, this will take time! In camps that are 8-10 weeks long – it affects the amount of time at sufficient load for adaptation!
REMEMBER: Our main goal at Boxing Science is to improve the Rate of Force Development (RFD).
We’re not led by certain exercises – we’re led by physiological adaptations. Therefore, we need to find the most appropriate exercise for optimal gains in strength, speed and explosiveness.
This is why Trap Bar Jumps can be really useful, as we’ve found that our athletes are able to learn the technique easily enough – and can move sufficient load within just a couple of sessions.
This can be great when we need to make improvements in strength quickly, for example in a short window, such as an 8 week camp.
A key study from 2017 showed that both loaded jumps and clean pulls improved vertical jump performance over the course of 10 weeks, both by an average of around 4 cm. However, what was interesting, is that there was no difference in improvements between the two groups.
Therefore, the authors of the study concluded that both loaded jumps and Olympic lifting movements are equally effective for improving countermovement jump performance and lower body force production. Similarly, we can use loaded jumps with our boxers to get the same benefits which arise from performing Olympic lifts.
An important note is that countermovement jump performance (the performance marker the researchers measured) has been shown to be strongly related to punching performance in other research. We use the countermovement jump test in our testing at Boxing Science and in our Train Like a Champion programmes as a key performance marker.
Trap Bar Jumps vs Trap Bar Deadlifts performed at Speed
From a couple of in-house studies into the Trap Bar movement, we were able to calculate differences in force, velocity and RFD when comparing the Trap Bar Jump vs the Trap Bar Deadlift at equal loads.
On average, between 30-60% 1RM, we see the following changes when an athlete jumps with the bar at the same relative load –
27% Higher Force Production
15% Higher RFD
19% Faster Mean Velocity
Not only this, we noticed that peak force is 8% higher in a Trap Bar Jump performed with 60%, compared to a Trap Bar Deadlift performed with 90% 1RM.
This shows us that while not only improving the RFD, heavier Trap Bar Jumps also provide a solid platform for producing maximum force, providing technique is safe and optimal.
Increased Force Production in a Trap Bar Deadlift compared to a Trap Bar Jump at equal load.
When to use Trap Bar Jumps
With the boxers on our programme, we use Trap Bar Jumps during Strength-Speed or Speed-Strength phases, generally working between 30 and 60% of their Trap Bar Deadlift 1 Rep Max (1RM). During the jumps, we use the GymAware tool to give velocity based feedback and targets to the athlete, which increases the intent to move rapidly and jump higher with the bar.
During these jumps, we have found that working at 50-60% of the deadlift 1RM can optimise maximum force production, and working between 30-40% can favour maximum RFD.
At 30-40% 1RM, the athlete is roughly jumping between 45 and 55% of their maximum unloaded jump height. If you don’t have access to velocity-based training tools, then apps such as MyJump can be used to programme, assess and provide feedback to athletes using Trap Bar Jumps.
A great example of the benefits of Trap Bar Jumps is with Kyle Yousaf. We used these during his Speed-Strength phase in Summer 2018.
We recorded his load and maximum velocity for a repetition using GymAware during each session. Kyle was given feedback and target velocities to hit within the trap bar jump exercise.
Over the course of five weeks, Kyle’s mean velocity when jumping with a consistent load of 50 kg has increased from 1.19 to 1.36 m/s. This has resulted in a 14.3% improvement in velocity with the same load. When assessed, this resulted to a massive 22% increase in predicted unloaded jump height.
This suggests that Kyle has improved force production and RFD qualities during the Trap Bar Jumps.
How To Perform The Trap Bar Jump
With the Trap Bar resting on the ground, the athlete braces as they would for a deadlift, then explosively jumps up as high as possible, driving into the ground forcefully and rapidly.
When they return to the ground, the athlete should land passively and “dump” the weight, letting the
In a normal Trap Bar Deadlift performed with light loads, the athlete must slow down the bar and decelerate towards the top of the movement to come to a stop.
In a Trap Bar Jump, the jumping mechanism allows continual acceleration throughout the upwards (concentric) phase of the movement, which increases the force production and RFD throughout the movement.
Both force production and RFD are massively important contributors to punching performance, making Trap Bar Jumps a fantastic exercise for developing this in boxers.
Disadvantages of Trap Bar Jumps
Like any exercise, there are some disadvantages, and inappropriate times to implement and use Trap Bar Jumps. This is fast becoming a popular exercise in the strength and conditioning community, however, there are a few errors being made – limiting the effectiveness of the exercise whilst increasing the likelihood of injury.
The main issue arises from lifting excessive load – this can create two key technical issues…
A potential issue with this exercise is how the athlete lands with the bar. When they return to the ground, the athlete should land passively and “dump” the weight, letting the load pull them back in to position. This reduces landing forces and controls the motion, ensuring that no excessive load occurs through the muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. If an athlete is too stiff on landing, this can increase the impact forces as the athlete attempts to control the movement too much.
When using velocity feedback during Trap Bar Jumps, an athlete can subconsciously “shrug” the bar, and pull with the arms to try and increase the distance the bar travels to increase the bar velocity. This creates excessive loading through the upper traps and shoulders, which already experience a lot a load in boxing training already. The athlete should keep their arms straight during the movement. Cues such as “let your hips do the work” or “drive into the ground” can be useful to help combat this.
For the reasons highlighted above, we tend to only use this exercise with our stronger and more advanced athletes who can demonstrate good movement when jumping and landing with the bar.
Trap Bar Jumps can provide a fantastic stimulus for developing a number of key physical qualities for boxing performance.
This article provided a framework for performing this movement correctly and safely.
From our in-house research, we have also provided some key recommendations around optimal load, velocity and jump height for developing both maximum force and RFD qualities.
Want to learn more about using Trap Bar Jumps in a boxing training programme?
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