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Searching for the Best Vertical Jump Program? Well, when was the last time you saw someone jump as high as possible in a conventional gym? Maybe never. The machines are designed to restrict movement , hindering any action that requires speed.

Step classes are the most explosive training of many gyms.

Check Vert Shock Review, our recommended Best Vertical Jump Program.

But knowing how to jump (and land) was a basic skill of our ancestors : climbing trees, overcoming obstacles, pouncing on dams … Challenging gravity at times was key to our survival.

Vertical jump is also used in many tests and oppositions to assess physical fitness, as it is a reliable indicator of overall muscle power.

best vertical jump program
Best Vertical Jump Program

Today we will see the vertical jump program and the best exercises to reach higher. If you have to take a test, you will also learn two  “secrets” that will allow you to increase your vertical jump in a few minutes before the test.

Best Vertical Jump Program

Jumping is an expression of power, and power is force x speed . Therefore, we will jump higher if we improve our strength and the speed at which we can deploy it.

But power without control is of no use . The correct technique represents this control. It will allow you to jump more and injure yourself less.

And in this case, the order of the factors does affect the result. Strength is the basis , and good technique is a prerequisite:

  1. Working speed with a weak body is inefficient . A rookie will improve his vertical jump more by gaining strength than training jumps.
  2. Adding intensity (speed) to a dysfunction (bad technique) is dangerous . First move well , then move fast.
  3. Strength can be improved much more than speed . You can continue to gain strength (and therefore improve your jump) even if you reach your speed limit.

In short, first force and jump technique, then speed . Once a minimum force is achieved, a joint program (strength and plyometrics) will give better results than a program that only works one of them.

Force

The best way to add strength to the lower body is clear: do squats .

The next question would be what kind of squat?

Unfortunately, many trainers still recommend the partial squat. Some because they believe it is safer and others because they think it simulates the movement of the jump better. But remember that you do not train squat to work the technique of jumping, but to gain strength , and the best way to gain strength is with a full range of motion.

A study analyzed the effect of a 10-week program with three types of squats: 1)  deep, 2)  deep frontal and 3)  partial. The conclusions:

  • The deep squat improved the vertical jump (2.5 cm), while the partial squat produced no benefit in the jump.
  • The deep squat had no significant effect on the explosive force, but the partial squat had a negative effect . This result is logical: to improve the explosive force you have to train it directly, as we will see below.

In short, don’t do partial squats . If you want to improve your vertical jump, you must improve your deep squat (with the maximum range of motion that allows you to maintain good technique ).

Speed or Explosive Force

The vertical jump depends on the efficiency of the nervous system, the ability to store elastic energy in muscles and tendons and the use of the myotatic reflex .

The plyometrics  improve all these components at once.

We can distinguish three types of plyometric exercises:

  • With high impact.
  • With low impact
  • No impact.

All have their usefulness. As we will see in the next installment, I recommend using low impact plyometrics in the warm-up or in the first training exercises. We will focus next on the best plyometric exercises with high impact and zero impact.

Plyometrics with Impact

One of the main objectives we pursue is to optimize the Stretch-Shortening (CEA) cycle .

The CEA works as follows: when you bend over (flexing your hips, knees and ankles), your muscles and tendons stretch, being loaded with elastic energy, similar to what happens when you stretch a rubber band. By reversing the movement quickly, that energy is released, helping to propel you, allowing you to jump higher than if you start the movement from a static position.

Although all the exercises that involve explosive jumps or movements are useful in this area, we will focus on those that have more scientific support in terms of their usefulness for vertical jumping and sports that require it, such as volleyball and basketball: box jump, counter movement jump and depth / drop jump.

Box Jump

Start with a height that allows you to land in the same position where you take off. This has greater transfer to most sports.

Later it incorporates higher platforms, landing in a deep squat position. The idea is to accustom the body to land in multiple positions and situations.

Counter Movement Jump

It is the best plyometric exercise to improve vertical jump. It is also used in many tests since, by immobilizing the arms, it isolates the power component of the lower body.

When practicing it to improve your vertical jump you can also use the version with arms to generate more momentum.

Depth Jump

The depth jump was invented by Russian coach Verkhoshansky and, according to many, is one of the weapons used by the Soviet bloc, in the Cold War, to master the tests that required explosiveness. Another of his ‘secret’ weapons was steroid-free use, but let’s get back to ours.

As we saw, one of the keys to the jump is the speed of the descent , which maximizes the accumulated elastic energy, the myotatic reflex and the activation of the nervous system.

How to get down faster? Helping us with gravity. If we drop from an elevated platform we will reach the ground with more speed and “bounce” higher.

Example Deep Jump

Some keys to the exercise:

  • Do not jump from the platform . You should drop, with a slight angle forward.
  • Land with the tip of your feet , not with flat feet.
  • The contact time on the ground depends on the objective, but in general it should be the minimum possible that allows you to absorb the fall well and maximize the transfer of elastic energy to the new jump.
  • You can simply perform a vertical jump or a forward jump , for example on another platform (or overcome an obstacle).
  • Start with low platforms (20-40 cm). Over time, add height, as long as more height allows you to jump higher. If not, you are not yet ready to absorb greater impact speed.

Unilateral Plyometrics

To minimize possible muscle imbalances and improve stability also includes jumps to one leg, on both sides. They can be horizontal jumps, stairs, platform jump, jump rope etc.

Plyometrics without Impact

The previous plyometrics have a direct transfer to the vertical jump, but have a problem: your knees . High impact with high frequency can wear them out.

To minimize problems, I propose to also include exercises that allow you to boost your explosive strength without loading your joints. My two favorites: swings with kettlebell and cleans .

SWING WITH KETTLEBELL  

Many ask me about the origin of the name  Effect * Kettlebell , my kettlebell training program. I put this name because during the time I was training exclusively with them I noticed great improvement in many different areas: strength, endurance, flexibility, power …

After reviewing many studies, the evidence is surprising: a generic kettlebell training produces similar effects on many physical qualities than specific workouts aimed at improving those qualities. This is what I call the kettlebell effect .

And again the kettlebell effect applied to the vertical jump is fulfilled . Two weekly sessions of swings, during 6 weeks, produce improvements equivalent to those of a specific program based on jumps.

Although the normal swing is perfectly valid, we can use a special variant to enhance the Stretch-Shortening cycle: the power swing .

As I explain in Effect * Kettlebell , the power swing requires two changes from the normal swing:

  1. Stop the kettlebell on the rise, at chest height.
  2. Accelerate the kettlebell on the descent , gravity is too slow for a revolutionary. With this we achieve an effect similar to that of depth jump : maximize the ability to absorb elastic energy on the descent, to project it back on the ascent.

Remember that it is a power training, not strength. You must print speed to the kettlebell  and, for this, it cannot be very heavy. As a general rule, you should not weigh more than 1/3 of your own weight . If you weigh 70 kg, for example, do not use a 24 kg kettlebell.

CLEAN 

The Olympic movements are excellent for improving potency. Its practitioners usually have a good vertical jump, but mastering them is a long process. A good technique requires months of practice, diverting resources from other exercises with more immediate benefits.

If you need to improve your vertical jump in a short time, I recommend focusing on clean , the most accessible Olympic lift, with great transfer to everything that requires hip explosiveness.

The midthigh power clean and the  midthigh clean pull are the most effective for the objective we pursue: maximum explosive force .

In people with good technique the difference will not be relevant but, if you need to improve your jump soon, remove barriers: use the simplest technique.

Jump Technique

There is no single technique for jumping, and you should practice in many ways. Real life does not always allow you to place yourself in an optimal position for takeoff. But as far as possible, follow these guidelines:

  • For starters, straight body and slightly arched back, with arms extended above the head. You can lean on your toes to catch some more speed.
  • Lower your arms violently back while flexing your hip. When descending, bring your hip back, as if you were going to do a squat. Hip flexion should reach about 90 °, with a knee extension of about 20-30 °.
  • But more than the exact angles, the key is the speed of descent, and that is where most fail. Remember Newton’s 3rd law: “Every action generates an equal and opposite reaction.” The faster you go down, the higher you will get.
  • Look up to achieve a more vertical jump. The body follows the head . If you look straight ahead you are more likely to jump at an angle, losing height.
  • If you are in a test where you must mark the jump with your hand, ensure that your arm is as vertical as possible . If you have poor shoulder mobility  you will lose centimeters.
  • The ankle extension is maintained throughout the flight, landing first with the tips of the feet .

How to improve your jump in minutes!

There are no shortcuts to develop a good vertical jump. It is a quality that requires discipline and programming. But if you need to scratch a few extra centimeters for a specific test, there are a couple of simple tricks that will help you.

Secret 1: Free your hip

Many complain of pain in the hip flexors the day after a jump session. A priori does not make much sense, since they do not participate in the propulsion. What happens then?

To jump you must open the hip violently, but its flexors are opposed, especially if they are rigid for an excess of sitting time.  This has two consequences:

  1. Maximum activation of the buttocks , muscles directly involved in the jump, is inhibited . Therefore, you jump less. This is also a problem if you want to develop a good butt .
  2. The rapid extension of the hip stretches the flexors, which due to their stiffness tend to contract ( protective response of the brain ), producing unnecessary tension and pain the next day .

How can you solve this problem? Stretching the hip flexors before the test . It is not convenient to stretch the muscles that will generate the force statically, but those that resist it.

Stretch the hip flexors before jumping (30-60 sec per side)

Stretching the hip flexors before the vertical jump produces a slight advantage, take advantage of it.

Secret 2: Lift Heavy Before

It is based on taking advantage of the so  called post-activation potentiation (PAP ): by applying a short and high load to the muscle, it increases its immediate power.

How to apply the PAP to improve the score in a test? Easy. Perform a series of 4-5 squat repetitions, using 70-90% of your 1RM. Wait 4-8 minutes and try your jump.

If you use 70% of your 1RM the peak performance will be closer to 4 minutes, and closer to 8 minutes if you opt for 90% of your 1 RM.

Why this window of 4-8 minutes? The potentiation is maximum if you let a few minutes pass so that fatigue disappears . But if you wait more than 10-12 minutes the potentiation disappears.

Source: Factors Modulating Post-Activation Potentiation and its Effect on Performance of Subsequent Explosive Activities

Ideally, experiment to find what works best for you. The hard part: access to a squat rack and be able to perform the test at the exact moment.