The Vertimax is an excellent training tool for developing strength, speed and power. The standard unit consists of a platform with a maze of tension wound elastomers designed to increase resistance and speed of movement. Units come with a belt, and ankle and wrist straps that enable the user to achieve an overload effect by attaching the elastomers to the hips, thighs, ankles and/or hands. The manufacturer has established protocols for various training movements. The focus of this post is to describe how and why I use a slightly different method than that recommended by the manufacturer when performing single- and multiple-response jumps.
Set-Up: In procedure recommended by the manufacturer, the athlete hooks the elastomers to a belt attachment on the hip. I prefer to have my athletes hold the elastomers in their hands, rather than using the belt. The belt works, but without the proper technique, the athlete risks overloading the hips, relative to the knee and ankle complex. Holding the elastomers, avoids this possibility, because it minimizes the chances of disrupting the timing of ankle, knee and hip extension. My athletes start by standing with the feet in a hip-width stance, holding the elastomers in their hands so they form a straight line through the ankle, knee and hip and provide a consistent direction of force.
Execution Jump Phase: The athlete initiates a countermovement (squatting action) into the eccentric pre-loaded movement. The athlete then quickly reverses the action into the overcoming phase (concentric), pushing fully through the platform and maximizing extension at the knee and hip joint. I don’t cue excessive plantar flexion because I want the opposite (dorsi flexion). I have observed that when an athlete emphasizes plantar flexion, they lose intent in the true force producers – the hips. As soon as the athlete creates loft, I want the feet to be dorsiflexed. This does two things: 1) it increases the length tension of the posterior chain to elicit more tension through the hips in extension and 2) prepares the athlete for the landing phase, which is of utmost importance as we progress into multiple-response jumps.
Execution Landing Phase: As the athlete approaches full extension, the elastomers produce greater tension. I believe that this is the best feature of the Vertimax, which I’ll discuss a little later. The increased tension will force the athlete to prepare for the landing sooner. With the feet dorsiflexed, I cue the athlete to land nearly flat-footed with the weight placed near the mid foot, not on the toes and not on the heels. Landing this way allows the athlete to land with less stress while maximizing the ability to absorb the eccentric load which, in turn, leads to better eccentric-isometric strength for a subsequent jump when we progress to multiple response jumps.
Now, back to my point about the best part of the Vertimax. At first glance of the resistance profile, as the athlete drops into the counter movement position, the elastomer’s tension is significantly less, and as it gets into the extended position prior to flight, the tension is higher. By design, it’s not until the athlete reaches his/her apex of height that the elastomer is providing the most amount of resistance. This is unique, as the elastomers will have a greater accelerated load against the body above the rate of gravity. So putting emphasis on the landing mechanics and deceleration, allows the athlete to be highly resilient eccentrically. The end result is the athlete should become stronger concentrically, as the system adapts to it.
Loren Landow, CSCS, MAT Specialist, USAW, is Director of Sports Performance, Steadman Hawkins Clinic – Denver. http://www.speedandagilitycoach.com/