Altered countermovement jump force profile and muscle-tendon unit kinematics following combined ballistic training
Combined heavy- and light-load ballistic training is often employed in high-performance sport to improve athletic performance and is accompanied by adaptations in muscle architecture. However, little is known about how training affects muscle-tendon unit (MTU) kinematics during the execution of a sport-specific skill (e.g., jumping), which could improve our understanding of how training improves athletic performance. The aim of this study was to investigate vastus lateralis (VL) MTU kinematics during a countermovement jump (CMJ) following combined ballistic training. Eighteen young, healthy males completed a 10-week program consisting of weightlifting derivatives, plyometrics, and ballistic tasks under a range of loads. Ultrasonography of VL and force plate measurements during a CMJ were taken at baseline, mid-test, and post-test. The training program improved CMJ height by 11 ± 13%. During the CMJ, VL's MTU and series elastic element (SEE) length changes and velocities increased from baseline to post-test, but VL's fascicle length change and velocity did not significantly change. It is speculated that altered lower limb coordination and increased force output of the lower limb muscles during the CMJ allowed more energy to be stored within VL's SEE. This may have contributed to enhanced VL MTU work during the propulsion phase and an improved CMJ performance following combined ballistic training.