Joel Smith Q & A with Simon Hunt. Box & Hurdle Jumping with Weightlifting

Joel Smith is the founder of Just Fly Sports (, an excellent training site all about jumping high and running fast. He is currently the head Strength and Conditioning coach, assistant Track & Field coach, and adjunct professor of Sports Science at Wilmington College, Ohio, USA.

Joel sent me some questions for an article on his web site, here is what I wrote:

Joel Smith (JS) – What are your thoughts on box height in depth jumping?

Simon Hunt (SH) – The point of jumping off a box is to add the force of the body falling to preload the muscles so they can contract more powerfully when you rebound off the floor. This requires a quick contact time of under 0.25 sec to utilise the energy stored in the ligaments and tendons in the rebound jump. A longer contact time results in this energy being lost. A good jump is a refection of the power output of a athlete. High jump = high power output. Power is a function of force and time. The relationship between the amount of force and how fast an athlete is dealing with it is crucial in coaching good technique and training. Most studies show that jumping off a box height of over 60 cm does not increase power output. This is because the force the athlete is dealing with is to large for them to rebound off the floor under 0.25 sec, and the resulting jump is no higher than a static jump. The same effect can be observed by increasing the passive weight of the athlete with a weighted vest. Effectively there comes a point where the athlete is not performing a rebound jump but is just jumping off a box landing and then jumping again, as two separate movements. The best indicator that the box is too high and the power output is being reduced is a reduction in the height of the rebound jump. So just follow the simple rule that you must be jumping high to be training your jumping. Low jump training does not work and I don´t like it. So fundamentally the box is there to help you jump higher, not lower which is what happened to most people jumping off a over 60 cm box.

Sets & reps: 200 reps per session (250 max) 2 sessions per week MAX. Most studies show that 3 times a week is detrimental to jumping, this is true in my own experience as well.

Do not start plyometric training until you can skip rope consistently for 5 mins (Approx 150 – 160 light contacts per min = 750 – 800)

JS – What are your thoughts on the practice of single leg depth jumps or single leg hurdle hops?

SH – This is a difficult exercise to get right. Basically you must be technically perfect. Considering the forces that I have described above involved in two legged depth rebound jumping, removing a leg from the equation will lead to a doubling of the force. So to keep the contact time below 0.25 sec you must halve the height of the boxes, and I would halve the number of contacts to begin with as well. The training forces on the body are high doing this which means the performance pay off must be well worth it. I´m not sure it is as you can have the same effect with easier exercises. There is no need to complicate things or add unnecessary risks in my opinion. I personally started single leg hurdle hops when I was recovering from a torn Achilles, using my good leg. This was mainly because it made me mad to watch my training partner Luke Crawley jumping while I could not, so I bet him I can do it off one leg. I like to use single leg contacts in continuous box jumping with a single foot on the box and two feet on the floor. Small technical hopping over very low hurdles is best to start with. If the upper body begins to learn in ANY direction (usually forward first) during the hop then reduce the hurdle height. Above all keep this exercise for training technique.

JS – What are your thoughts on the use of maximal strength training (over 90% 1rm) in track and field athletes?

SH – Brilliant! But only in weight lifting exercises NOT powerlifting. By this I mean clean,

Weights Phase 3

Weights Phase 3

snatch and squat. Not deadlift. I use 90% in the competition phase of training that last for 6 weeks. 3 sets of 3 reps each at 90 – 95% max, two times a week. Using 60 sec rest between sets will really train the ATP and neurological systems to their maximum. Using longer rests between sets (2-5 mins) will simulate competition conditions. To understand your athletes power output you need to add up the total weight lifted and the total time. E.g. 3 x 3 @ 100kg = 900kg. Each set is about 12 sec (4 sec per lift) with 2 x 1 min rest. So over a total of 2m36s 900kg was lifted at a rate of 346kg/min. This figure relative to body weight is a great guide to your athletes fitness and power capabilities.

JS – What do you think of endurance bounding? (Over 30 meters)

SH – This is a plyometric session all of its own. Only to be done when the legs are fresh and rested for 72 hours. I watched Stefan Holm do this over 60m using 17 -18 bounds, on an indoor athletics track. I use upto 10 bounds in most plyometric programmes in combination with other exercises. You need to be incredibly robust to do 17 – 18 bounds, and consistent too.



Most athletes are not robust enough to do this in combination with other exercises. This does not mean they are not good performers in track and field. The surface you do this on is of major importance like any plyometric exercises, soft and responsive tracks are the best, or real grass to start with. Putting greens and firm fairways are perfect surfaces to bound on but most golf clubs won´t allow it. Let me know of you find one Joe!


About Simon Hunt

As a professional for over 15 years with a strong academic background, Simon has developed dynamic style of personal training. Effective, functional training routines, tailored towards your personal health and fitness goals are what he loves to work towards. This style of training is based around a wealth of experience that includes, working with numerous World and Olympic athletes, developing Norwegian sport champions, preventing heart problems and other diseases through exercise as a medicine, as well as countless private clients. www.sihunt.wordpress,com As professional athlete and personal trainer, i have over 24 years experience in athletics where my expertise lie in the jump events and sprints. I also have knowledge of basketball and gymnastics. I have 15 years experience working as personal trainer 6 of which as an exercise physiologist training heart patients, ranging from angina to transplant, as well as many other specialised conditions i.e. diabetics etc.
This entry was posted in 60 meters, Athletics, Basketball, Exercise, High jump, High Jump Drills, Human Motion, Hurdles, Links, Long jump, Movement Drills, My training sessions, Plyometrics, Research, Simon Hunt, sprinting, Strenght and Conditioning, Track & Field, Triple jump, vertical, Vertical power, Weight lifting. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Joel Smith Q & A with Simon Hunt. Box & Hurdle Jumping with Weightlifting

  1. ultharth says:

    “Not deadlift. I use 90% in the competition phase of training that last for 6 weeks. 3 sets of 3 reps each at 90 – 95% max, two times a week. Using 60 sec rest between sets will really train the ATP and neurological systems to their maximum. Using longer rests between sets (2-5 mins) will simulate competition conditions”

    To get a best out of your athlete in weight room longer break is required, ATP has to be restored to obtain required results (for every second of max/ submax work minute or longer is required to restore 80% of ATP) short breaks during workouts stimulating hypertrophy In my opinion you have to go lower in some stages in percentages to go higher in further stages.
    “The deadlift wasn’t a favorite in our eyes either until we noticed an interesting and powerfully motivating fact: World and European powerlifting records show that the deadlift and the squat records are within 10% or less of each other across all weight classes, both for men and women. Yet the deadlift works a significantly greater percentage of the muscles and involves multiple joints”


  2. Simon Hunt says:

    Thanks for you comment Ultharth, I´ve used deadlift for years in the general conditioning (hypertrophy) phase of preparation for jumpers and sprinter. Also I have good results with a 1/4 deadlift using a ring shaped bar so you can stand in the centre of the weight. Also 1/4 squats with heavy weights on 1-2 reps in competition phase is effective, top jumpers using 230kg upwards. I´ve spent decades using a 90 sec rest between sets for 70% max and upwards, as ATP recovery does not really increase after this period, and even quicker if creatine has been used. Recently I´ve been trying a mix of lighter loads e.g. 45% with shorter rests under 60 sec during power development phase, as suggested by some American trainers like Luke Lowery, who work in basketball and football.

    Thanks for the link to the PDF article, interesting read.



    • ultharth says:

      Thanks for your response
      Regards to restoring ATP the difference is not that great if you look between 90sec and 2min I totally agree with that. However all researches have showed that somewhere between 3/5min or even longer during weight lifting is necessary to reach Full Recovery. When I said that In my opinion you have to go lower in some stages in percentages to go higher in further stages I meant no lower than 80% If you look at the speed of the bar in final stages of let say ½ squat with 45% and 80% difference is not that great and from my research and experience power output in weight room when you are working with lower % doesn’t converting into power output on the track during tests: Shot FF, BW, standing long jump, standing high jump, long skipping,
      Weight lifters, shot putters, discus throwers, almost never going below 80% of 1MR and always have a long recovery when building strength (except hypertrophy periods) even thou they are over 110kg body weight their power output is a DREAM for jumpers and sprinters. So to go fast, high or far you have to lift heavy 80%+ with long recovery for most of the season and at the same time avoiding hypertrophy stages.


  3. Tommy says:

    Hi Simon,
    how would i be able to get phase 1 and 2 of the strenght and conditioning program and phase 3 of the bounding program.



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