The purpose of the present study was to identify the effects of a strength training program combined with specific plyometric exercises on body composition, vertical jump (VJ) height and strength development of lower limbs in elite male handball players. A 12-week program with combined strength and specific plyometric exercises was carried out for 7 weeks. Twelve elite male handball players (age: 21.6 ± 1.73) competing in the Portuguese Major League participated in the study. Besides the anthropometric measurements, several standardized jump tests were applied to assess VJ performance together with the strength development of the lower limbs in an isokinetic setting. No significant changes were found in body circumferences and diameters. Body fat content and fat mass decreased by 16.4 and 15.7% respectively, while lean body mass increased by 2.1%. Despite small significance, there was in fact an increase in squat jump (SJ), counter movement jump (CMJ) and 40 consecutive jumps after the training period (6.1, 3.8 and 6.8%, respectively). After the applied protocol, peak torque increased in lower limb extension and flexion in the majority of the movements assessed at 90°s-1. Consequently, it is possible to conclude that combining general strength-training with plyometric exercises can not only increase lower limb strength and improve VJ performance but also reduce body fat content.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.