Wednesday, May 9, 2012


The coveted front lever - technically this is the end of the front lever but for a vaulter it ends when your hips lock to your hands with your body still extended.

There are few things more important than lower ab strength and quickness.  The ability of the vaulter to become vertical in the shortest time period is the essence of vaulting high.  Sergey Bubka's coach, Vitaly Petrov was once asked what he thought was the biggest variable in getting to higher levels for the established vaulter.  His answer was swing duration.  The shorter the duration of the swing, the more power delivered, while at the same time not interrupting the path of the pole.

I do a few base bar exercises that help me quickly get my hips to my hands.  BTW - 10,000 sit ups a day will do nothing to get you vertical.  Getting vertical is lower abs and lats.  A good rule of thumb for bars is four days a week.  Some of the exercises are very difficult to do even one time.  But once you can do them once then you can quickly build up to sets of 10.  BTW - I do not swing on bars EVER.  I want the raw strength of powering myself through the move rather than cheating and swinging myself through the hard part.

The front lever, as pictured above is the basis of a great vault swing.  The longer the body can remain long the more energy goes into the pole.  To bring the hips up requires staying upright with the torso and forcing your arms forward and down.  Pressing (rowing) your arms forward and down gives you much better penetration into the pit.  I do 3 X max front levers twice per week with 5lb (2kg) ankle weights on.

Next are Bubkas.  I hang between parallel bars at the gym and go fully extended vertical.  Slowly I lower myself down until my left leg is parallel to the floor and my right knee is pulled toward my chest like it would be in the middle of the swing.  Without touching my left leg I change direction and roll back into the extended position.  I do 3 X max on this twice a week.  So my four days are two days of 3X max front lever to vertical lock off, and two days of 3 X P-Bar Bubkas on another day.  I can get vertical on any jump, no matter how bad I may have missed the timing.

Just beginning?  Grab some heavy ankle weights and do these exercises as negatives.   Your body is 40% stronger on the negative than the positive.  For example, you can slowly lower with control much more weight on a bench press than you can press back up.  So if you do these drills with weight, in reverse, many times, then you will soon be able to do one going the correct way with no weight.  And as I said, once you can do one then you can do many. If you can't do one, then try these every single day until you can.  This is a big key to being able to jump high.  Have a great day and thanks for your support!  Bubba

Pat Travers - "Crash & Burn" -

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