T Nation

For Joe DeFranco, Eric Cressey, Sivlerback et al.

Could you list some exercises that would improve the elasticity in the lower leg? I am looking specifically to improve triple jump performance and jumping off of one foot.

Thanks for your feedback.

I don’t see a whole lot of need for direct training for the plantarflexors. Just make sure that your training has plenty of work for maximal strength in traditional positions (e.g. squats, deadlifts), strength-speed (box squats, speed pulls, o-lifts), speed-strength/ballistic work (plyometrics and loads of 30% 1RM and under, some of which should be performed on a single leg), and traditional single-leg work (split squats, lunges, stepups). Keep in mind that although the triple jump is going to be largely dependent on reactive strength, you’ll hit a plateau very quickly if you only train for that entity; you need maximal strength to allow for optimal increases in power.

In short, as long as you’re doing this stuff in your training and triple-jumping frequently, your plantarflexors are going to have plenty of reason to improve. Also, there were a few studies on the vertical jump and broad jump that looked at relative contributions of the hip extensors, knee extensors, and plantarflexors; the plantarflexors didn’t comprise much of the total. Granted, this is from a dead-stop, but I’d assume these same contributions would be present when all three groups are working reactively (I don’t recall seeing any studies to this effect, though). Let me know if you want me to post the studies.

Hope this helps.


Thanks Eric…good stuff!!

I’m with Eric, you’re not going to get a tremendous improvement in vert through training the lower leg specifically.

However, you could look into single leg type plyometric drills just as hopping over cones or in a slalom fashion.

Most important will be your strength and speed-strength work as Eric mentioned and your time practicing your specific sport.


ankle jumps :wink:

Go to Joe Defranco’s website and read every article there, you’ll find something that will help.

Believe I’ve been all over his site several times and might even be going up for a consult in the next month. I’m looking for the differences between standing vertical leap and off the run off one foot.

The running jump is more stabilization and involuntary contraction by the hips and hamstrings and to a lesser extent the quads, with the force exerted largely by elastic recoil from the achilles tendon. The muscle fibers in those groups lock up with the tendons operating as movement generators. This means that is is largely a reflexive/involuntary movement which is why the best running jumps, triple jumps, high jumps etc always feel effortless…If you think too much about the explosive pushoff you just detract from what should be a reflexive contraction. You need enough strength in those muscle groups to stabilize the negative energy upon ground contact and allow a strong reflexive contraction, which results in superior force and muscle recruitment of the hips and hamstrings, providing you have the necessary strength qualities in place.

In contrast the standing vertical jump relies much more on voluntary strength with a larger contribution from the quadriceps.

A few exercises that may help you along with those listed.

Reactive reverse hypers with straight legs- Focus on dropping the weight during the eccentric, catching it around midpoint and exploding back up. This will train the reactive functions in the glutes and hams.

Reactive glute hams with plantar flexion - flex your foot so your calves are contracting when you start the movement with your feet against the plate and keep them that way. Next perform the glute-hams with an emphasis on building up velocity on the eccentric and quickly stabilizing and exploding back up quickly on the concentric.

And a beauty of an exercise I learned from DB Hammer. This exercise will enhance reflexive contractions of the plantar flexors, hips, and hamstrings and transfer well into sprinting or jumping from one leg.

Reflexive Firing single leg speed jumps

Simply set up a box that is knee height in front of you. You jump with one leg on and off of the box trying to be as quick as possible…BUT, here’s the catch, you can’t let your hips rise or fall(shift vertically) at any point in the movement. Odds are that you won’t be able to display this correctly off the bat but with a little practice you’ll master it.

When done right your hip will fold to about 90 degrees when it is on top of the box. During ground contact, good form would be a rapid display of triple extension through the ankle, knee, and hip.

How is your biomechanics? If your goal is to specifically improve triple jump performance then I think this is the key. Strength in the hips is important to keep you from sinking trough in the second and third step. Keeping the speed is also very important.

How come nobody has suggest UPPER body work to coincide with the lower body work? The upper body plays a huge role in all types of explosive jumping.

Thanks Kelly.

Hey guys I train with Defranco personally. Just wanted to let you guys know that his article on the verticle jump will be posted on t-mags new articles this week…With the draft coming up Joe is swamped and busy turning men into animals…So check out the article later today…

Thanks Kelly. That’s what I’ve searching for!

Cool Trenchdawg,

One other thing I want to mention is that if you’re already doing triple jump training make sure you watch the volume of everything else because that sort’ve jumping is extremely stressful.

his article didnt get posted. that sort of sucks. hopefully next week eh?

Def sucks that the article didnt post this week…Next week it will be up tho…So guess we gotta hang tight…


Of course the upper body plays an important role…it just wasn’t part of the question:)

You answered his question to a T then people made other suggestions. I was just surprised there was no talk of his upper body work.

I can’t wait for DeFranco’s article! Didn’t he finish it a week ago? I was really hoping for it this week.