I love Trap Bar jumps. I wish I could say who gave me this idea as I'd love to give them credit.
In any case, to properly discuss Trap bar Jumps, we need some context. I love Olympic lifts but, I also know they are not for everyone. All our athlete programs, except our baseball program, begin with Olympic lifts. However in our summer Pro Hockey group we have a number of athletes who have never trained with us before and are either unfamiliar with Olympic lifts, don't want to Olympic lift, or both.
This means that we need an alternative explosive exercise. In some cases we did additional jumps, in other swings, and in others we used our MVP Shuttle or Vertimax.
When we started to Trap Bar Jump, this quickly became our go-to exercise for power with athletes that were not Olympic lifting.
Before we get too carried away, lets talk a bit about “how” we do these. We know our “why” is explosive power development but, “how” can get a bit fuzzy. Our idea as to “how” to do Trap Bar Jumps comes from the work of JB Morin. JB's actual work was in sled sprinting but, if you bear with me you'll see how the two ideas mesh.
JB has spent years investigating the correct way to determine loads for sled sprints. To make a long story short, JB's extensive research basically led him to conclude that the sled load should result in a time that is 150% of the unloaded time at the same distance. This means that the correct load for a guy who runs a 1.5 sec 10 yard dash is a load that caused him to run a 2.25 sec 10 yard sled sprint. The big key point here is that load is not based on the athletes bodyweight but is based on how the load effects his speed.
We adopted the same idea for the Trap Bar Jump. To load Trap Bar Jumps we selected a weight that would allow 70-80% of the athletes best vertical jump. To do this we simply do the exercise on our Just Jump mats and compare. A load that generates a jump less than 70% of the best vertical jump is deemed too heavy. To me this seems simple. Athletes that can vertical jump 30” use a load that will produce a jump between 21 and 24”.
Unfortunately, we have seen loads based on percentage of bodyweight and on percentage of best Trap Bar Deadlift. These are both really bad ideas. Using a percentage of bodyweight seems like a nice, safe, simple idea until you start to get larger athletes. Larger athletes in general will have less relative strength so, what ends up happening is that a load of 30% of bodyweight might be fine for a 200 lb player ( 60 lbs) but, terrible for a 300 lb player ( 90 lbs.). In fact, in general heavier players should get lighter loads, not heavier.
Using a percentage of the best deadlift is even worse as this assumes a direct relationship between strength and power that does not really exist. In our case, I have two very similar athletes, both with 36” vertical jumps. One is highly experienced in the weightroom with a Trap Bar Deadlift max in the 500 lb area. The other has struggled with back problems and has never Trap Bar Deadlifted over 275 lbs. Does it make sense to load them differently based on strength or, similarly based on power.
Interestingly enough both could vertical jump over 25” at 95 lbs. The correct load in both cases was not based on bodyweight or strength but, rather based on the load effected power output.
Take a few minutes and, give this a try. I'm positive you'll fall in love the idea, same as I did.