Five Keys to Increasing Vertical Jump: The Pillars of a Successful Jump Program
Do you want to increase your vertical jump? It is not that complicated, but it will be of great help in all kinds of sports. Obviously, if you want to dunk in basketball or go to the net in volleyball, you need to get high. Not your sport? Increasing your vertical jump will help in other sports. It will get you out of the blocks on the track faster, give you explosive speed off the line of scrimmage in soccer, and develop fast and powerful legs for skiing. But how do you jump higher? Here are five key components to a jump training program.
1. Plyometric jump workouts
Plyometric exercises consist of a stretch-lengthen phase, followed by a rapid contraction. In plain English, this means that you hit the muscle and then immediately recover. For jump training, research shows that the most effective exercise for increasing vertical jump is the depth jump gold drop jump. In a depth jump or drop, you start in a box, jump out of the box, and explode with maximum effort (after a good warm-up, of course). Sports physiologists have tried many different box heights, but around 10 to 12 inches is enough to get the most benefit with much less risk of injury than jumping from a box over 20 inches. Some key considerations:
- Quality not quantity. You are going to rest between each jump and you are not going to do many jumps per session. The most important thing is to measure each jump. Once you start to lose height, stop immediately. You don’t want to practice submaximal effort. You want to train yourself to go higher.
- Not so often. Since you are doing your best, you cannot do this every day. Depending on age and basic fitness level, 2-3 times per week should be adequate.
2. Strength training and Olympic lifting
Power is the ability to develop strength quickly. Plyometrics works with explosive power. Strength is the ability to develop maximum strength. To do this, you will want to go to the classics: squats and deadlifts. In all cases, paying close attention to the spine and Avoiding any curvature is essential for your health.. There is a correlation between vertical jump and leg power, on the one hand, and leg strength, on the other, so you need to work on your strength to be your best.
Deadlifts, both straight leg and leg bent, are excellent exercises to strengthen the “dorsal chain,” that is, the back muscles from the back itself through the glutes (glutes) and hamstrings. Start off light and build up over several workouts.
The traditional squat is a somewhat dangerous exercise and some of the best strength trainers, like Mike Boyle, recommend it even for their professional soccer players. A safer alternative is the front squat, where the bar rests on the collarbone. This encourages good form and prevents you from curving your spine or leaning too far forward and also challenges your core muscles. Leading trainers like Boyle and Gray Cook actually prefer single leg squats. These are very safe, a killer workout and will reveal imbalances in your strength. It seems to me better not to go too low. Some people with balance problems may try to cheat and stay too high. So a good guideline is to do it near a bench press bench and sink in until your butt is barely touched, but don’t rest on the bench. If you’re 6’10 “, you might still be too short. Essentially, you want to go where your thigh is parallel to the floor, but not too far, as that puts a lot of strain on your knees.
Once you are comfortable with these exercises, you are ready to move on to Olympic lifting. Studies have shown that of all strength exercises, the cleansing power it is the best predictor of vertical jumping ability. Ideally, you will receive proper instruction from a qualified trainer as this is a complex exercise, but there are some good instructional videos on YouTube as well. Essentially, a power clean is a deadlift that brings the bar up to your shoulders.
This requires increasing the speed with your legs during the initial phase so that the momentum carries the bar beyond your hips so that you can sink into it and put the bar on your shoulders. Do not pressure clean from that description. I have more extensive descriptions on my website, but even better is getting a real trainer to help you learn this exercise. The only point I want to make here is that, like the jump itself, the power clean is an explosive, compound exercise. This is why it works in the same way as jumping and overloads your muscles in the same way, making it a fantastic component to any jump training program. Did I mention that I should get the proper instruction? Please!
3. Basic strengthening
Quick, what is the favorite exercise of Kadour Ziani, world record holder in vertical jump? Squats? Plyometry? No. They are spiders. To make a spider, you lie face down on the ground, spread the eagle in an X. Then, you lift so still in an X that you are on your fingers and toes. From there, you can simply hold it or even “scratch”, “walk” back and forth, or go around in circles. It is a core matador exercise.
So what does core strengthening have to do with vertical leap? Simple: the strength of the core will give you rigidity in your torso. So when your legs generate that massive strength that you’re building through strength and plyometrics, you want to transfer that strength into a vertical jump, not dissipate it into a wet noodle body.
If you’re not ready for spiders, you can start with front and side planks and back extensions. Front planks are basically like a push-up position, but you hold it on top for 1-4 minutes depending on your strength. The side planks are like this, but turned 90 degrees, so your chest is facing the wall, not the floor. For back extensions, place the hip pad with your feet under a roller on a Roman chair. If you don’t have one at your gym (I don’t), you can use an exercise ball for your hips and put your feet under a dumbbell rack. And while you’re on the exercise ball, turn around and do some crunches on top of the ball, which gives you a longer range of motion and a better workout than doing crunches on the floor.
4. Stretch and flexibility
You should put in some scheduled time each week for dedicated stretching and flexibility work. Ideally, you don’t want to do a lot of stretching right before a jump workout. Why? Because it will weaken the muscle a bit temporarily. Better to do a good warm-up and just a little basic stretching. But outside of your strength and power workouts, you want to work on your flexibility by doing a few extended sessions, as well as multiple sessions throughout the day. The best benefits come from holding a position for a long time (1-2 minutes) and then also maintaining that stretch with frequent updates throughout the day if your work or school schedule allows. Sodas can only last 10 seconds with your foot on the back of a chair.
Why bother with all this? Two reasons. One, you don’t want all that strength and power you’ve developed to be affected because your body can’t move as it should. Second, you also don’t want your shape to spoil due to the inability to move properly or due to an imbalance between one side and the other.
5. Proper nutrition.
Obviously, you want to eat your vegetables. Lots of broccoli. That is true whether you are training or not. However, if you are training hard, you need to make sure you have proper nutrition. The research is divided on the subject, but I take a multivitamin to fill in the gaps. More importantly, you want to get enough high-quality protein without too much fat. The best source of this is whey protein. The best deal I have found at the moment (Oct 2009) is a 10 pound bag of NOW Nutrition ordered through Bodybuilding.com, but look around. As a general guideline, you would like your total protein (including that you get from broccoli) to equal about 1 gram per pound of lean body mass (that is, your body mass minus your fat mass). Ideally, you will take this throughout the day in doses of about 20 grams as you cannot use large amounts of protein and excess protein in one dose will simply turn to fat.
One more tip: some research suggests that 20g of whey protein taken without other calories just before bed may promote the release of human growth hormone during deep sleep. That can be a great booster to your recovery.
Remember, these are just a few key components to a successful vertical jump training program, but it is far from exhaustive. You still need to use common sense and that means warming up before exercising or else you are asking for an injury and get plenty of rest; otherwise your body cannot recover and you will not make adequate gains. Remember, rest includes both sleep and rest days after strength training.
Hard train, smart train, jump high!