This paper presents a detailed analysis of an optimal control solution to a maximum height squat jump, based upon how muscles accelerate and contribute power to the body segments during the ground contact phase of jumping. Quantitative comparisons of model and experimental results expose a proximal-to-distal sequence of muscle activation (i.e. from hip to knee to ankle). We found that the contribution of muscles dominates both the angular acceleration and the instantaneous power of the segments. However, the contributions of gravity and segmental motion are insignificant, except the latter become important during the final 10% of the jump. Vasti and gluteus maximus muscles are the major energy producers of the lower extremity. These muscles are the prime movers of the lower extremity because they dominate the angular acceleration of the hip toward extension and the instantaneous power of the trunk. In contrast, the ankle plantarflexors (soleus, gastrocnemius, and the other plantarflexors) dominate the total energy of the thigh, though these muscles also contribute appreciably to trunk power during the final 20% of the jump. Therefore, the contribution of these muscles to overall jumping performance cannot be neglected. We found that the biarticular gastrocnemius increases jump height (i.e. the net vertical displacement of the center of mass of the body from standing) by as much as 25%. However, this increase is not due to any unique biarticular action (e.g. proximal-to-distal power transfer from the knee to the ankle), since jumping performance is similar when gastrocnemius is replaced with a uniarticular ankle plantarflexor.