The depth jump (not to be confused with the drop jump) is an exercise where an individual drops from a box and rebounds off the ground quickly, whilst focusing on jumping vertically as high as possible.
It is generally employed when implementing what's commonly known as the 'shock method', popularised by Professor Yuri Verkhoshansky. The shock method effectively refers to a method of training where falling body mass increases the eccentric loading before the jump, as demonstrated in the videos within this post.
Due to the greater intensity of the Drop Jump (compared to jumping from the ground), it has been reported to assist in the development of speed, agility, strength, and even endurance performance.
Increasing the intensity of a depth jump is usually done by increasing the height of the drop. More specifically, I tend to have intermediate athletes start by falling from a step/box that is equivalent to 50% of their vertical jump height. As they advance, I will gradually increase this to 100% of their vertical jump height.
Fairly recently, however, Bridgeman, L. et al. (2020) looked into the effects of adding load to the eccentric phase of the movement to increase intensity of the exercise, ultimately enhancing the performance of the stretch-shortening cycle (plyometric effect of the musculotendinous unit)
This variation of the depth jump can be referred to as a Accentuated Eccentric Depth Jump:
In the study, Bridgeman, L. et al. (2020) had eight strength-trained male academy rugby union athletes (age = 18.7 ± 1.0 yr) complete a training programme which consisted of training three days per week (over a four-week period), with two days incorporating the assigned Depth Jump protocol. The Depth Jump was performed for 4 x 8 in the first week, progressing to 4x12 by the final week.
The athletes were randomly assigned to either an unloaded Depth Jump or Accentuated Eccentric Depth Jump protocol. Both groups performed the Depth Jump from a drop height of 52 cm. The Accentuated Eccentric Depth Jump group, however, held onto dumbbells whilst performing the jump that equated to 20% of their body mass. When the subject hit the bottom position of the DJ (i.e. feet on the ground, thighs parallel to the ground), the dumbbells were released.
Pre and post 10-, and 30m sprints, squat jump, countermovement jump, Depth Jump, and the 505 agility test was used to determine results.
Accentuated Eccentric Depth Jump Group:
Increased concentric and eccentric peak force by 13.2% and 13.8%, respectively
Increased CMJ and SJ by 13.0% and 14.8%, respectively. Decreased 10m sprint time by 2.2%.
Decreased 30m sprint time by 2.0%.
Decreased 505 agility time by 5.6%.
Unloaded Depth Jump Group:
Increased concentric and eccentric peak force by 9.4% and 7.3%, respectively.
Increased CMJ and SJ by 6.4% and 12.5%, respectively.
Decreased 10m sprint time by 0.5%.
No mean change in 30m sprint time.
Decreased 505 agility time by 2.5%.
As you can see, the Accentuated Eccentric Depth Jump yields superior results to the Unloaded Depth Jump.
If you or your athlete possess strong foundations and have been strength training for a number of years, the Accentuated Eccentric Depth Jump may be a very useful tool to help enhance sporting performance.
Professor Yuri Verkhoshansky states that the initial dose of the drop or depth jump should not exceed 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps and generally should not exceed 4x10.
In the video above, I am prescribing Dan 5 sets of 3 reps (5x3). My reasoning for this is that he is using the Accentuated Eccentric Depth Jump as part of a contrast superset (click here to read more on this) and therefore using less reps to ensure high quality and avoidance of fatigue.
Based on Verkhoshansky's recommendations, a simple weekly progression could look like this:
Week 1: 2x5 - Total of 10 contacts
Week 2: 3x5 - Total of 15 contacts
Week 3: 3x6 - Total of 18 contacts
Week 4: 3x8 - Total of 24 contacts
Week 5: 4x6 - Total of 24 contacts
Week 6: 4x8 - Total of 32 contacts
Week 7: 4x10 - Total of 40 contacts