The Triple Jump, an Olympic track & field event that dates back to ancient Greece, places unique physical demands on athletes and requires a special track training plan. The event is essentially a sprint, then a hop, step and a jump into a sandpit. It requires strong abdominals and hip extensors, plus unilateral stability and strength in the legs.
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One of the most important physical demands involves the relationship between speed and force when landing. In the “hop” phase, an elite triple jumper can experience impact forces of 7.9 to 12.6 times body weight, with ground contact times of 120 to 180 milliseconds (higher values relate to the “step” and “jump” phases.)
The ability to withstand such high loading forces and display enough power and muscle reactivity to get such high speeds in a small window requires special conditioning. Below, I’ve put together a blueprint for a track training plan using block periodization, which deliberately divides the training year into objective-driven phases and ensures the athlete peaks at the appropriate time.
Developing and then maintaining the balance between technique, speed and strength guides all choices in this plan. Block periodization allows us to logically and systematically order training factors to achieve specific training outcomes at predetermined times. This approach, if done correctly, serves as a perfect tool to monitor athletes’ progress and ensure they are prepared to peak at a specific competition.
Training begins with a 15-week preparatory phase, divided into two sub-phases of general and specific prep.
The general prep phase is 10 weeks and starts with a five-week mesocycle focused on building strength endurance, followed by another five-week mesocycle focused on hypertrophy. The objectives of these phases are to stimulate increases in lean body mass and work capacity.
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Compound multi-joint exercises were chosen to allow for maximum utilization of training principles related to volume and intensity, until a planned overload phase. The exercises do not necessarily mimic the physiological demands or the technical execution of the sport itself, but they stimulate universal adaptations associated with sports success.
The theme of each of these mesocycles is an overreaching period during the fourth week, followed by a week of deload. The deload week is essential because it is when the athlete’s body adapts, regenerates and prepares for a new increase. This improves the athlete’s ability to tolerate heavy loads as a result of adapting to the stressors experienced during strength training.
A five-week specific preparatory phase follows, with the main focus being basic strength development. These 15 weeks play a key role in progressing and success throughout the season since any dramatic increase in performance requires a long period of training and adaptation.
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- Bompa, T. O. (1996). “Variations of Periodization of Strength.” Strength & Conditioning Journal, 18(3), 58-61.
- Councilman, J.E. 1968. The Science of Swimming. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Graham-Smith, P. and Lees, A. (2002). “Finding the ‘balance’ in the horizontal jumps – part 2 relationships between speed, strength and technique.” The Coach, issue 11, July / August 2002, 42-45.
- Hoffman, J. “Principles of Periodization.” Temple University, Philadelphia 2015. Lecture
- Ramey, M.R. and Williams, K.R. (1985). “Ground reaction forces in the triple jump.” International Journal of Sports Biomechanics, 1, 233-239.