Tonight San Diego State University takes on St. Johns University in the NCAA Tournament. While I’m torn on who to cheer for – the Aztec’s who have become my local team over the past 10 years or the Red Storm who I grew up with (literally just a few blocks away from the University) – I’m excited to watch some of the finest college basketball players in the country go head-to-head as they try to advance to the next round.
And while, personally, I’m more interested in who can make the 3-point jump shot, I can’t deny the drama and awe that comes with the infamous “slam dunk.”
Propelling themselves to heights of 44”, 45” and even 46”, players like Sam “Slam” Thompson (Sr. Forward, Ohio State), Michael Qualls (Jr. Guard, Arkansas) and Keifer Sykes (Sr. Guard, Green Bay) all seemingly defy gravity as they explode into the air, ball in hand, to make the glorious dunk shot.
But how are they able to do it?
Generally, people who can jump so high are born with a high percentage of fast-twitch muscles, which gives them explosive speed. However, those that aren’t as genetically blessed can still increase their vertical leap with plyometric training.
Traditionally, basketball players perform various squats and box jumps to work their “vert” and develop their leg muscles for increased strength and power. Popular exercises like the depth jump and barbell squat jumps have proven to add inches but also tend to leave athletes at risk for possible injury if not performed properly.
And for those who are not quite at the level of the pros or likely soon-to-be pros… jumping, while highly beneficial, is not as easy as it looks.
Since full weight-bearing plyometric exercises, even at low intensities, can expose joints to considerable forces and substantial speeds of movement, the Jump Trainer acts as a transitional piece of equipment, allowing users to gradually progress by incrementally unloading their bodyweight.
Providing a safe and fun environment to perform squats and squat jumps, the Jump Trainer features a large, ergonomic glideboard that fully supports the spine during movements so that users can comfortably control the descending and ascending phases while exercising.
Its unique design allows EVERYONE – from the mom or dad that just had their hip replaced to professional athletes who want to work on their “hang time” – to develop all the major muscles of the lower body, from the intrinsic muscles of the foot to the glutes (and everything in between needed fto jump like Jordan).
How can one machine accommodate so many different users of so many different abilities? It’s all in the engineering.
Like all Total Gym products, the Jump Trainer uses incline body weight resistance, allowing users to train using anywhere between 20-80 percent of their own bodyweight. There’s plenty of room to progress from basic squats to complex plyometric movements that challenge a user’s proprioception while using maximal force and resistance.
And for the first time, Total Gym has incorporated optional variable band resistance (VBR) into the Jump Trainer. Four resistance bands offer an additional 10 -70 pounds of resistance in 10 pound increments, allowing for a maximum resistance of up to 150 percent of a user’s bodyweight when all four bands are engaged.
Leveraging band resistance allows users the unique opportunity to train the eccentric contraction of a squat or squat jump. Not only do the bands intensify the force needed to accelerate upwards, they also provide accelerated eccentric force that requires users to control the down phase – therefore training muscle deceleration which helps strengthen and protect ligaments and joints while developing fast-twitch muscles fibers and explosive power for improved athleticism and of course… an increased vertical.
So while I’m watching tonight’s game with my fingers crossed (Go Red Storm!!!), tomorrow, I’ll be back testing my jumping tenacity on the Jump Trainer (in heels no less ). I’ll keep you posted on any impressive leaps…