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Five Keys to Increase Vertical Jump – The Pillars of a Successful Jump Program
So you want to improve your vertical jump? It’s not that complicated, but it will help a lot in all kinds of games. Of course, if you want to dunk in basketball or hit the net in volleyball, you need to go high. Not your game? Increasing your vertical jump will help in other sports. It’ll make you faster off blocks in track, give you explosive speed through the line of scrimmage in football, and build quick and powerful legs for skiing. But how do you jump high? Here are five important components of a jump training program.
1. Plyometric jump workouts
Plyometric exercises consist of a stretch-lengthening phase, followed by a rapid contraction. In plain English, this means that you will shock the muscles and then immediately recover. For jump training, research shows that the vertical leap is the most effective exercise for increasing height room jump Or Drop jump. In the deep or drop jump, you start from the box, jump off the box and explode with maximum effort (after a nice warm up of course). Sports physiologists have tested different box heights, but about 10-12 inches is enough to get the most benefit with less risk of injury than jumping from a 20+ inch box. Some key considerations:
- Quality not quantity. You’re going to rest between each jump and you won’t be doing too many jumps per session. The most important thing is to make every jump count. Once you start losing height, stop immediately. You don’t want to practice with sub-maximal efforts. You want to train yourself to go higher.
- Not very often. Since you are trying your best, you can’t do this every day. Depending on age and base fitness level, 2-3 times a week should be appropriate.
2. Strength training and Olympic lifting
Power is the ability to rapidly develop strength. Plyometrics works explosive power. Strength is the ability to develop maximum force. For this, you want to go to the classics: squats and deadlifts. In all cases, careful attention to the spine and Avoiding any curvature is essential for your health. There is a correlation between vertical jump and leg strength on the one hand and leg strength on the other, so you need to work on strength to be at your best.
Deadlifts, both straight and bent-legged, are great exercises for strengthening the “dorsal chain,” meaning the muscles in your back through the glutes (butt) and hamstrings. Start light and create multiple workouts.
The traditional squat is a somewhat dangerous exercise, and some top strength coaches like Mike Boyle recommend it even for their pro football players. A safer option is the front squat, where you rest the bar on your clavicles. This promotes good form and prevents you from twisting the 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. I think it’s best not to go too low. Some people with low balances may try to cheat and stay too high. So a good guide is to do the bench press near the bench and sink down until your hips touch, but not resting on the bench. If you’re 6’10”, it might still be too low. Basically, you want to go where your thighs are parallel to the floor, but not too far forward because that puts a lot of stress on the knees.
Once you’re comfortable with these exercises, you’re ready to move on to Olympic lifting. Studies have shown that all strength exercises, the Clean power is the best estimate of vertical jump ability. Ideally, you would get proper instruction from a qualified instructor as this is a complex exercise, but there are also some good instructional videos on YouTube. Essentially, the power clean is a deadlift that brings the bar to the shoulders.
This requires building momentum with your legs in the early stages so that the momentum goes beyond the hips and you can sink into it and get the bar on the shoulders. Please do not power clean from that description. I have a great description on my website, but it’s better to get an actual instructor 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. Because of this, it works the same pathways as jumping and overloads the muscles in the same way, so it’s an excellent component for any jump training program. Did I mention that you should get proper instructions? Please!
3. Strengthening the core
What is the favorite exercise of Kadur Ziyani, the world record holder in quick, vertical jump? Squats? Plyometrics? No. He is a spider. To do the Spider, you lie face down on the floor, spread eagle in an X. Then you stay still in X, you’ll be on your toes and toes. From there you can hold it or even “spider”, “walk” back and forth, or spin in circles. It’s a killer core exercise.
So what in the world does core strengthening have to do with vertical leap? Simple: Core strength will give you stiffness in your torso. So when your legs generate the tremendous power you build through plyometrics and strength training, you want to transfer that power into the vertical leap, not dissipate it into a wet-noodle body.
If you’re not ready for a spider, you can start with front and side planks and rear extensions. Front planks are basically like a pushup position, but you hold them at the top for 1-4 minutes depending on how strong you are. Side planks are like this, but turned 90 degrees, so your chest is toward the wall, not the floor. In back extensions, you place your hip cushions on a Roman chair with your feet under the roller. If your gym doesn’t have one (mine doesn’t), you can use an exercise ball for your hips and place your feet under a dumbbell rack. And while you’re on the exercise ball, turn over and do some crunches on top of the ball, which will give you more momentum and a great workout that can be used to crunch on the floor.
4. Stretching and flexibility
You should set aside some scheduled time each week for dedicated stretching and flexibility work. Ideally, you don’t want to stretch too much before a jump workout. why Because it will temporarily weaken the muscles a bit. It’s best to warm up well and do some basic stretching. But outside of your strength and power workouts, you’ll want to work on your flexibility by doing some stretching sessions as well as multiple sessions throughout the day. If your job or school schedule allows, the best gains are made by holding one position for a long time (1-2 minutes) and then maintaining that stretch with frequent refreshers throughout the day. Refreshers can be as little as 10 seconds with your feet on the back of a chair.
Why bother with all this? Two reasons. One, you don’t want all the strength and power you develop to impress you because your body can’t move as it should. Second, you don’t want your form to be compromised by not being able to move correctly or an imbalance between one side and the other.
5. Proper nutrition.
Of course, you want to eat your vegetables. Lots of broccoli. This is true whether you are training or not. If you’re training hard, you want to make sure you’re getting enough nutrition. The research is divided on this topic, but I take a multi-vitamin to fill in the gaps. Most importantly, you want to get enough high-quality protein without too much fat. A good source of this is whey protein. The best deal I found at this time (October 2009) was a 10-pound bag of Now Nutrition ordered through bodybuilding.com, but shop around. As a general guideline, you want your total protein (including the stuff from broccoli) to be 1 gram per pound of lean body mass (that’s your body mass minus your fat mass). Ideally, you would take this in a dose of about 20 grams throughout the day, as you cannot consume large amounts of protein and the excess protein in the dose will simply be converted to fat.
Another tip: Some research suggests that 20 grams of whey protein taken before bed with no other calories can promote the release of human growth hormone during deep sleep. So it can be a big booster for your recovery.
Remember, these are just a few of the key components to a successful vertical jump training program, but it is far from the whole. You still need to use common sense and that means warm up before you exercise or you’re asking for injury, and get plenty of rest, otherwise your body can’t recover and you won’t get enough benefit. Remember, rest includes plenty of sleep and rest days after strength training.
Train hard, train smart, jump high!
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