Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of plyometric and weight training protocols on the mechanical properties of muscle-tendon complex and muscle activities and performances during jumping.
Methods: Ten subjects completed 12 wk (4 d·wk−1) of a unilateral training program for plantar flexors. They performed plyometric training on one side (PT; hopping and drop jump using 40% of 1RM) and weight training on the other side (WT; 80% of 1RM). Tendon stiffness was measured using ultrasonography during isometric plantar flexion. Three kinds of unilateral jump heights using only ankle joint (squat jump: SJ; countermovement jump: CMJ; drop jump: DJ) on sledge apparatus were measured. During jumping, electromyographic activities were recorded from plantar flexors and tibial anterior muscle. Joint stiffness was calculated as the change in joint torque divided by the change in ankle angle during eccentric phase of DJ.
Results: Tendon stiffness increased significantly for WT, but not for PT. Conversely, joint stiffness increased significantly for PT, but not for WT. Whereas PT increased significantly jump heights of SJ, CMJ, and DJ, WT increased SJ only. The relative increases in jump heights were significantly greater for PT than for WT. However, there were no significant differences between PT and WT in the changes in the electromyographic activities of measured muscles during jumping.
Conclusion: These results indicate that the jump performance gains after plyometric training are attributed to changes in the mechanical properties of muscle-tendon complex, rather than to the muscle activation strategies.