If you’ve played practically any organized sport, you’ve probably heard of the term vertical jump. A vertical jump is quite simply the maximum height you can reach, coming from a static standing position. You might think that this concept isn’t very useful for your sport, but your vertical jump can be a leading indicator of your explosive strength. To understand more about these two concepts, we have to go into the science of this movement. And by the end of this article, we’ll have answered your burning question, “how do I increase my vertical jump?”
What is the science behind vertical jumps and explosive strength?
The secret to vertical jumps lies in your power-to-weight ratio. This ratio expresses the amount of power you can produce in relation to your bodyweight. Power is directly linked with explosive strength, which researchers have shown to have a direct correlation with athletic performance. In physics, power can be calculated by the following formula:
Power = Force x Velocity
Force refers to the maximum amount of strength you can output, also known as absolute strength. On the other hand, velocity refers to the maximum amount of speed you can output. If you improve both of these aspects, your vertical jump should naturally increase too.
How do I increase my absolute strength and velocity?
Absolute strength refers to the maximum weight your body can lift. When most people think about vertical jump training, they think solely of plyometric movements, forgetting strength training. Increasing your absolute strength is essential if you want to see significant improvements to your vertical jump.
To increase this type of strength, you’ll want to look to slow, controlled movements like squats, deadlifts, and lunges. Creating a training program that progressively increases your maximum weight will do wonders for your jumping abilities.
For velocity, this refers to the speed with which you do your vertical jumps. The vertical jump is a swift movement, and it is usually over in around 0.2 seconds. With quick velocity, you can effectively show off your strength in various movements, including vertical jumps.
The best ways to increase velocity are through explosive movements such as those in plyometrics. These include depth jumps, box jumps, broad jumps, and sprinting.
What should my training program look like?
You see it all the time on the internet, programs saying you’ll “Double Your Vertical Jump in 12 weeks,” or “Get Six Pack Abs In 6 Weeks.” These programs prey on those that want instant results with minimum effort. The bottom line is that there’s no one magical recipe for getting that 40-inch vertical. It will take patience, consistency, and buckets of sweat.
With that being said, here are the ten essential exercises you have to include in your vertical jump training program:
There’s no way around it; squats are among the greatest exercises for overall muscle and strength building. They’re a terrific compound movement that works two critical components for vertical jumps: legs and core. You’ll want to incorporate both front and back squats to your program to reap both their benefits.
Single-leg or pistol squats
Pistol squats take the convenience of an air squat while adding just the right amount of difficulty to this exercise. This exercise works your hip flexors, hams, quads, calves, and your core. Additionally, they can be quite helpful for flexibility too.
Another killer exercise for vertical jumps is overhead lunges. This is yet another movement that focuses heavily on core and leg strength. The overhead lunge can be extremely beneficial for core stability and balance, two factors that lead to better vertical jumps.
Deadlifts are a staple for any strength training program. When done correctly, they can lead to rock-solid glutes and hamstrings, so how could they not increase vertical jump? A research piece conducted on college-aged women showed a significant increase in vertical jump following a deadlift-only training program.
Plyometric drills put strength and speed together to make you more powerful or explosive altogether. Depth jumps are done by starting from a high surface, dropping off to the ground, then jumping straight up as soon as you land. This exercise is excellent for reactive strength and is a staple in many vertical jump programs.
Agility drills serve two purposes here. While they increase your speed to improve your vertical jumps, sport-specific movements strengthen your overall performance. Different sports demand different skillsets from their players. For example, a football wide receiver might want to practice explosive change of direction, while basketball players want to lock down on lateral quickness.
Single leg bounds
Single leg bounds work great for increasing leg strength, coordination, and overall power. This exercise focuses on maintaining excellent posture and balance while in motion.
Squat jumps are somewhat of a scaled-down version of depth jumps and serve as the building block for most explosive lower-body movements. They’re widely used to measure lower-body power and improve explosive hip extension, the foundation of many athletic movements.
Weighted step-ups are fantastic quadricep builders, and they’re convenient in the way that you’ll need minimal equipment to do them. They’re fun to do as part of a HIIT workout, and they are a reasonably low impact exercise.
Jumping rope is not only fun, but it can help you develop your vertical jump as well. Doing some intense skipping for a prolonged period will build your calves while making you much more nimble on your feet.
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