5 Ways to Jump Higher
5 Ways to Jump Higher
Looking to improve your vertical? These five tips will have you jumping higher than ever before.
The vertical leap is key in assessing athletic potential and performance, as no other exercise is a better test of explosive power. Which means, whether you’re looking to dunk, or just want to become a better athlete, improving your max vertical is important. So how do you improve your vertical? These 5 tips provide the necessary roadmap.
1. Test your vertical… often!
Whether you’ve got a jump pad, vertical ladder, or some chalk you can smack high up on a wall, make sure to test yourself first. Testing your vertical jump frequently holds athletes accountable and is a great way to track progress. It also keeps things competitive outside of the gym and discourages some athletes from going out on those mischievous Friday nights (yeah… been there). As the saying goes, you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. To get a sense of your vertical jump progress, go test yourself to assess your baseline leaping ability, and then deploy the tips below to make week over week improvements.
2. Snatch variations
The upward movement phase of a snatch mimics the same hip extension during a vertical leap. With Olympic style training and consistent heavy workloads, athletes are sure to experience a drastic increase in their explosive power. Some of our InnerCity Weightlifting athletes have gone from barely touching rim, to dunking comfortably due, in large part, to only three days of Olympic style lifts per week.
Need further proof? A 15 week study performed with football players compared a powerlifting program to an Olympic weightlifting program in regards to athletic performance. When finished, the Olympic weightlifting group showed significant improvement over the powerlifting group in both the vertical jump, and the 40 yard dash (Hoffman JR).
The point is, Olympic lifts like the snatch, when taught at a 50-70% workload, do a great job of increasing ones vertical. Going heavier (85%+) certainly helps as well, but if trying to maintain performance and avoid injury, technique work at moderate weight will keep everything in check. 8 sets of 2-3 reps at 65-70% is a great method for maintaining and improving.
3. Power Clean and Hang Clean
Clean variations are another effective form of Olympic lifting, yielding similar results to the snatch both in terms of jumping ability, and body composition. While I’m a huge fan of the snatch (mind out of the gutter), most would argue that cleans are easier and safer to teach. Regardless of whether or not you’re partial to one or the other, the clean is a staple in top-notch strength programs, and will stand the test of time as a vertical leap improver. If you look at any legitimate college or pro strength and conditioning program, a clean variation will inevitably appear. Why? Because they work, that’s why. Again 8 sets of 2-3 reps at 65-70% is a great method for maintaining and improving.
4. Depth Jumps (Spring recoil mechanism)
Depth jumps are a great method for improving the force directly related to the vertical leap. They teach the spring recoil mechanism, which is the act of storing energy as you make contact with the ground and then releasing it either straight in the air or onto another platform. Kelly Baggett discusses the benefits of depth jump training relative to pure speed, which inherently has a positive effect on ones vertical. Baggett’s study revealed that the max sprint speed in a sprint correlates best to how much force one can put out into the first .100 (1 tenth of a second) of a depth jump. How do you improve that first tenth of a second? By practicing, and improving at, the depth jump. Start by doing 5 sets of 5, while getting full rest between sets.
Sprinting will have a direct and advantageous impact on your power lifts. As your lifts improve, so will your vertical. Performing Olympic lifts directly after your sprint work is ideal, providing a greater neurological response. When volume-load progressions are spot on with sprint work, plyometric work, and resistance training, you’ll produce a vertical leap to be reckoned with. This type of activity will also elicit rapid fat loss especially if combined with proper nutrition, which will also help to improve an already serious vert! Try to progress from 10 sprints of 40 yards a couple of times a week to a round of 20, getting full rest between sets and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.
These five tips will get you dunking, and your vertical leap max'ing. And even if dunking with your elbow like VC isn’t high on your list of to-do’s, these five’ll help you in your quest to battle those pesky love handles. In an 8 week Olympic weightlifting program study, participants lowered their resting heart rate by 8%, lean body weight increased by 4%, fat dropped 6%, and systolic blood pressure decreased by 4% (Stone, Cardiovascular). Yeah, not bad side effects while becoming more powerful, more explosive, and generally more athletic.
And 1R, should you want safe, NCAA-legal pre-workout supplement options prior to improving your vertical leap, we at OneResult recommend the following supplements:
- CytoSport Fast Twitch - Increases power and explosiveness in fast twitch muscle fibers and is caffeine-free
- Optimum Nutrition AmiN.O. Energy - Allows you to train harder and longer with beta alanine and is sugar-free
- Labrada Beta Alanine Endurance - Improves workout capacity and reduces muscle fatigue
Hoffman, Jr, J Cooper, M Wendell, and J Kang. "Comparison of Olympic Vs. Traditional Power Lifting Training Programs in Football Players." 18 (2004): 129-135. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 18 (2004).
Stone, M.H., et al. Cardiovascular Responses to Short-Term Olympic Style Weight-Training in Young Men. Can. J. Appl. Sport Sci. 8(3): 134-9.
About the Author
Brendan “Bonesaw” McKee has been training individuals since 2004 and is a graduate of Amherst College where he was Captain of the Lord Jeff football team. Over his career he earned all-conference and all-region honors in addition to getting the nickname Bonesaw for his bone-jarring hits and savage antics in the weight room and on campus. After school Brendan played football professionally in Vienna, Austria for the Danube Dragons. He also aided in the implementation of the strength and conditioning programs that the Dragons continue to use today. Today Brendan serves as a mentor and coach at InnerCity Weightlifting in Boston where kids who are at risk for gang related activities are trained in Olympic lifts to improve their athletic performance, tutored, and taught to say no to violence and yes to opportunity. Before InnerCity Bonesaw worked with individuals from Athletes Performance, Poliquin Performance Centers, Cressey Performance, and Hayes Sports Performance. Brendan is also the owner of MFD Training, “Manus Fortis Ducerit,” Lead with a Strong Hand.
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