For my performance clients, both the collision sport and occupation people and the non-collision clients, two tests stand out to measure how we are progressing. They are the Standing Long Jump and the Farmer Walk test.
For the FW, put bodyweight (as close as you can do it) on a Trap Bar and carry this for as long as you can. I expect 100 yards, but it doesn’t matter. If you improve every time we test, we know you are moving in the right direction. Good training seems to help the Farmer Walk. That is a simple sentence, but it is true: the FW measure work capacity, grip, core strength, posture and tenacity. Ideally, proper training will improve all of these qualities.
With the Standing Long Jump, the minimum is one’s height. No, we are not jumping over our head, we are expecting you to jump as far as you are tall. Now, if the standard in your field is perhaps ten feet, your issue is every inch from where you are to ten feet.
The SLJ is a wonderful test as we can improve it in a minute with just a touch of coaching. And, this lesson carries over to deadlifts, the Olympic lifts and all Kettlebell work. I learned it from two Swedish Olympians who destroyed me on the SLJ test.
Simply, stop jumping with your legs! Now, this is an exaggeration but try this simple experiment: SLJ with a really deep knee bend. Do it maybe three times and mark where you land. Now, jump again with MINIMAL knee bend. Oddly, with just pushing the butt back and snapping most people go almost as far “without using their legs.” Well, of course you are, but this is the feeling of the hinge. The hinge, maximal hip bend and minimal knee bend, is the tool for deadlifting and the Olympic lifts.
So, just practicing SLJs will complement your other training. Here are some other things that help:
- Squats, deadlifts and hip thrusts. A big strong butt leads to long leaps.
- Serious and regular stretching of the hip flexor muscles.
- Yes, planks. Planks teach the “Snap” of a good jump.
- Kettlebell Swings. Swings are SLJs without the jumping and landing.
How will you know that your training is truly working? Both your SLJ and FW should improve. If you go on a mass building program, your SLJ might shrink back a bit, but we had better see an improvement in the FW. Otherwise, you have to ask some serious questions about the past few weeks.
If you want a stripped down program for improving your SLJ, try this.
Three times a week, do the following “warm up:”
15 Swings/ One Goblet Squat and March in place (every time your left foot hits, count as “one” and do ten). Repeat this five times.
For lifting, put the bar in the rack so that the weight touches about one inch above the knee. Load up. Do two sets of five in the Rack Deadlift. I suggest using the standard clean grip. Strive to increase weight from session to session and don’t be surprised to have a lot of weight on the bar quickly.
In addition, balance this with two sets of five in the press of your choice. To finish, literally play on the rings for a few minutes with hanging leg raises, pull ups, and anything else you can do. This will be both your pulling workout and your “Poor Man’s Chiropractor” as you stretch the spine.
Twice a week, practice the SLJ. Maybe a total of only ten actual reps, but experiment with hip flexor stretches and hip and knee positions. After two weeks, take a day or two off and test again. Your before and after measurements should be clearly better.
And, when your SLJ improves, you are clearly better.