The Portable Power Jumper is a jump training device invented by Jon Hinds, a Certified Natural Trainer and renowned body weight training expert. This product is offered for purchase online by LifeLine USA, a company that offers other functional equipment such as the Power Wheel and Jungle Gym XT.
Before we discuss the effectiveness of the Power Jumper, we should first review what is fundamental in improving vertical leaping ability.
All athletes must move forces through a distance. How fast we can transfer momentum and move that force (our body weight), ultimately determines our ability to generate power and leap high into the air. Any training program or equipment we choose should aim to improve one or both of these factors: total force generated and the velocity through which we can generate that force. (Power = Force x Velocity)
By using one or more adjustable rubber bands that attach at the ankle and wrap around the neck, the Power Jumper does increase resistance while jump training. This aids in training the muscles and nervous system to generate more force through each jump. If you focus on using proper technique while increasing your number of jumps and resistance over the course of a training program, band training has been proven to increase leaping ability, according to Argus.
There are numerous advantages to band training, especially for young athletes. In addition to providing gradually increasing resistance throughout the concentric phase of jumping (ascending), bands also increase acceleration during the eccentric phase (descending). Thus by increasing your total force generated while reducing the time it takes to generate that force, total power is increased along with vertical leap.
Young athletes have active growth plates and joints that need to be trained safely for stability. An added benefit of band training is that it increases resistance without increasing your weight. This saves athletes from experiencing the high forces associated with traditional plyometric training that traditionally uses heavier weights.
There were two noticeable limitations with the Portable Power Jumper, the first being risk of neck strain. Although using bands reduces spinal cord compression compared to heavy bar backed jump training, the tension of the bands pulling forward and down was immediately noticeable with the Power Jumper mounted on the neck. I would agree with Jon Hinds in that this could be a benefit for some athletes, helping strengthen the spinal erectors if you are able to maintain good posture during use. However, for younger athletes with weaker postural muscles, this may be an area of concern.
The other limitation relating to neck strain is the setup for the Power Jumper. In order to prevent neck strain, you must dip into a deep squat position with your chest raised to pull the band overhead before standing upright. For most athletes this appears simple and low risk, however, even with one band attached there was noticeable tension in the C-spine while getting into the starting position.
Overall, the Portable Power Jumper by LifeLine USA is an excellent addition to an athlete’s training regime. It can be applied to a jump training program and is also versatile enough to be used for sport specific skills such as sprinting and lateral bounding by having the bands provide resistance from the waist. It is especially applicable to athletes who have joint injuries or wish to avoid them. Band training will reduce impact forces while still providing the benefits of increased resistance, improved stability and eccentric (lowering) phase acceleration. The result is a more powerful athlete who is also agile.
» Johnson et al, J Strength Cond Res (2011) 9, 2623-33. A systematic review: plyometric training programs for young children.
» Argus et al, J Strength Cond Res (2011) 8, 2219-27. Kinetic and training comparisons between assisted, resisted, and free countermovement jumps.
Originally published in February 2012