Tag Archives: vertical jump performance

6 Ways to Jump Higher

30 Jun

The ability to get up off your feet is obviously important in sports like basketball and volleyball.  But what about other sports?  Well, since your vertical jump is an indicator of your lower-body explosive power (and since lower-extremity strength and power is important for virtually all sports), it’s in every athlete’s best interest to develop his/her vertical jump performance.

Here are 6 ways to improve your vertical jump:

  1. Get stronger.  Jumping is about pushing your body away from the ground.  The stronger you are through the hips and legs, the greater the force you can generate against the ground.  Exercises like squatsdeadlifts (we like using the trap bar), glute-ham raises (on the bench or manual resistance), and Romanian deadlifts should be incorporated into your training plan.
  2. Develop your “fast-twitch” muscle fibers.  Your fast-twitch muscles are your body’s largest and have the most growth potential.  They are responsible for maximum effort jumps, sprints, and lifts.  However, to produce movement, your body recruits muscle fibers in an orderly progression from smallest to largest.  That means, in order to activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers, you must work at about 70% or more of your capacity (we benchmark at about 80% of an athlete’s 1RM) – heavy weight, low repetitions for most exercises.
  3. Contrast training.  This strategy will help you accelerate the development of lower-extremity strength and power (and it will also wear you out!).  Contrast training involves performing a strength exercise, immediately followed by an explosive movement.  An example would be to do a set of squats and proceed, without rest, to a set of squat jumps.
  4. Push the Prowler.  We love the weighted sled for the development of hip/leg drive, strength, and power.  You can push it and/or pull it, and adjust the weight to the needs and abilities of each individual athlete.  We use the Prowler as a workout “finisher” for many of our athletes, especially during their off-season training phase.
  5. Plyometrics.  Once you’ve built a strong foundation through strength training, it’s time to add plyometric exercises to your workout.  Plyometric training involves exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible, using something called the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC).  SSC is basically an eccentric(lengthening) muscle movement rapidly followed by a concentric(shortening) contraction.  Examples of plyometric exercises are box jumpsdepth/drop jumpshurdle jumps, and even jumping rope.
  6. Steer clear of injury.  Vertical jump training should include landing mechanics, since research shows that most non-impact knee injuries result from landing and/or cutting instability.  Balance and stability exercises are important additions to any vertical jump training program.  Biomechanical considerations, such as knee flexion, knee alignment, and hip motion should be closely observed.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Squat Deeper, Jump Higher

3 Apr

Want to improve your vertical jump?  Don’t cheat your range of motion when doing the squat exercise.

The parallel squat (thighs parallel to ground in “down” position) is more beneficial for subsequent jump performance than the quarter- or half-squat, according to a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The authors suggest that the greater the depth of the squat, the greater the increase in gluteus maximus activation and work produced, which is responsible for the increased jump performance.

The study also cites an increase in postactivation potentiation as it relates to back squat depth.  Postactivation potentiation refers to increased muscular force generation after previous muscular activity.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Add Squats to Run Faster

11 Nov

squats-strength-training[1]At my facility, we encourage squats— and squat-type exercises — to improve sprint performance.  Research has also shown that squats can improve vertical jump and agility performance in athletes who perform the exercise regularly (athletes who swim, throw, and swing can also benefit from squats, which covers just about everyone).  Squats are a great choice to build the strength and power necessary to generate force against the ground, which is integral to speed, agility, and jump performance.

Recently, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research further corroborated the relationship between squats and sprint speed.  In their study, researchers found that athletes who did squats increased their sprint speed by 10% compared with those who did not do the exercise.

In addition to the Barbell Back Squat (pictured), try these squat variations:

  • Dumbbell Goblet Squat
  • Split Squat
  • Sumo Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Single-Leg Squat

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Vertical Jump Performance with Jump Training

10 Jun

Hockey-Squat-Jump[1]The improvement of an athlete’s vertical jumping ability can contribute significantly to overall sports performance.  Basketball and volleyball players are obvious examples of athletes who benefit from the ability to execute a strong vertical jump (VJ).  However, most other athletes can also benefit from jump training, because many sport-specific movements rely upon extension of the hip, knees, and ankles (triple extension).

Vertical jumps use a forceful and rapid concentric (pushing) action of the leg muscles to create separation from the ground.  Fast-twitch (Type IIa) muscle is a major determinant of force production.  For more on fast-twitch muscle development, please refer to Developing Fast-Twitch Muscle to Improve Power Output.

The following are examples of different types of jumps that can help you improve your strength, explosive power, and athleticism:

A squat jump (SJ) is a vertical jump from a static start.  From the static start position, maximal concentric muscular action is exerted, using triple extension.  You can further improve force development by adding resistance (an external load), such as a hex barbell, dumbbells, or weighted vest.

A countermovement jump (CMJ) starts with a movement in the opposite direction of the jump, followed by an explosive upward movement.  In addition to loaded squat jumps, this movement is executed in Olympic lifts, such as high pulls, power snatches, and power cleans.

The one-step approach jump (1-step AJ) is an exercise where an athlete takes a step forward into a CMJ.  An example of the 1-step AJ is a volleyball player approaching the net during the execution of a spike.  It’s preferable to incorporate the 1-step AJ into an athlete’s jump training only after the athlete has demonstrated the ability to perform a technically correct SJ and CMJ.

Depth jumps (DJ) are a type of plyometric exercise that use potential energy and the force of gravity to store energy in the muscles and tendons.  The DJ is performed by having the athlete step off an elevated platform, landing, then reversing the movement into a powerful, vertical jump.  Depth jump training is a common training modality for improving lower extremity power and speed.

Jump training should always incorporate proper landing mechanics: The athlete should focus on landing with hips down and back; knees bent and pointing straight ahead; and on the entire surface of the foot (not only on the balls of the feet)

Athlete’s who engage in both strength training and VJ exercises have a better chance of improving their VJ performance to a greater degree than those who only strength train or jump train independently.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Jump Performance with Lunges

14 Oct

32_2[1]Pre-activity conditioning and warm-up are important across a range of sports, especially for those requiring fast and/or powerful movements.

Performance characteristics of muscle are affected by a complex interaction of muscle and nerve fibers.

Voluntary muscle contractions performed before physical performance have been shown to increase performance in a phenomenon known as post-activation potentiation (PAP).  In other words, you increase the potential of the muscular performance once the muscle has been appropriately activated.

Historically, high-load squats (>80% 1RM) are one of the most common exercises for PAP elicitation, as it relates to subsequent jump performance.

Recently, a Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research study showed that “a regimen of lunging exercise resulted in a transient improvement in maximal vertical jump performance.”

This article has implications, most obviously, for basketball and volleyball athletes, since a pre-game regimen of repeated bouts of alternating lunges can improve in-game neuromuscular performance as it relates to vertical jump performance (without equipment, weights, etc.).

It is reasonable to also expect that lunges may potentiate neuromuscular performance in athletes participating in other sports that require explosive, powerful lower-extremity movements.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Jump-Landing Training for Female Athletes

26 Sep

1(491)[1]Vertical jump performance is important in several sports — basketball and volleyball being two team sports that come to mind.

Previously, we’ve discussed jump performance in our articles, 6 Ways to Jump Higher, and Improve Your Vertical Jump Performance with Jump Training.

Additionally, we’ve established that Jump Training Should Include Landing Mechanics.  This is especially important since jump landings are associated with high ground reaction forces.  Incorrect landing technique, insufficient muscular strength, and lack of balance place the lower extremities at risk for injury.

Female athletes are known to have a higher risk of injuring their anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, while participating in competitive sports. The chance of ACL tear in female athletes has been found to be 2 to 10 times higher than in male counterparts.

Recent research points to differences in the biomechanics (the way our bodies move) of male and female athletes.  Although it’s impossible to prevent every injury, the good news is that we have the ability to change the likelihood of ACL tear, and jump-landing mechanics/training is at the top of the list.

Jump-landing training should focus on the following areas:

  • Optimizing movement efficiency
  • Building foundational muscular strength
  • Development of balance and coordination
  • Plyometric exercise technique
  • Proper hip, knee, and ankle alignment
  • Sport-specific jump-landing ability
  • Injury prevalence reduction
  • Performance improvement

An effective jump-landing program starts with education, and — as shown above — includes a variety of components.  Additionally, to ensure athlete compliance, the training program should be designed to equally address performance and injury prevention.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

6 Ways to Jump Higher

19 Feb

highjump[1]The ability to get up off your feet is obviously important in sports like basketball and volleyball.  But what about other sports?  Well, since your vertical jump is an indicator of your lower-body explosive power (and since lower-extremity strength and power is important for virtually all sports), it’s in every athlete’s best interest to develop his/her vertical jump performance.

Here are 6 ways to improve your vertical jump:

  1. Get stronger.  Jumping is about pushing your body away from the ground.  The stronger you are through the hips and legs, the greater the force you can generate against the ground.  Exercises like squats, deadlifts (we like using the trap bar), glute-ham raises (on the bench or manual resistance), and Romanian deadlifts should be incorporated into your training plan.
  2. Develop your “fast-twitch” muscle fibers.  Your fast-twitch muscles are your body’s largest and have the most growth potential.  They are responsible for maximum effort jumps, sprints, and lifts.  However, to produce movement, your body recruits muscle fibers in an orderly progression from smallest to largest.  That means, in order to activate your fast-twitch muscle fibers, you must work at about 70% or more of your capacity (we benchmark at about 80% of an athlete’s 1RM) – heavy weight, low repetitions for most exercises.
  3. Contrast training.  This strategy will help you accelerate the development of lower-extremity strength and power (and it will also wear you out!).  Contrast training involves performing a strength exercise, immediately followed by an explosive movement.  An example would be to do a set of squats and proceed, without rest, to a set of squat jumps.
  4. Push the Prowler.  We love the weighted sled for the development of hip/leg drive, strength, and power.  You can push it and/or pull it, and adjust the weight to the needs and abilities of each individual athlete.  We use the Prowler as a workout “finisher” for many of our athletes, especially during their off-season training phase.
  5. Plyometrics.  Once you’ve built a strong foundation through strength training, it’s time to add plyometric exercises to your workout.  Plyometric training involves exercises that enable a muscle to reach maximum strength in as short a time as possible, using something called the Stretch-Shortening Cycle (SSC).  SSC is basically an eccentric (lengthening) muscle movement rapidly followed by a concentric (shortening) contraction.  Examples of plyometric exercises are box jumps, depth/drop jumps, hurdle jumps, and even jumping rope.
  6. Steer clear of injury.  Vertical jump training should include landing mechanics, since research shows that most non-impact knee injuries result from landing and/or cutting instability.  Balance and stability exercises are important additions to any vertical jump training program.  Biomechanical considerations, such as knee flexion, knee alignment, and hip motion should be closely observed.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Squat Deeper, Jump Higher

2 Dec

squats-strength-training[1]Want to improve your vertical jump?  Don’t cheat your range of motion when doing the squat exercise.

The parallel squat (thighs parallel to ground in “down” position) is more beneficial for subsequent jump performance than the quarter- or half-squat, according to a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The authors suggest that the greater the depth of the squat, the greater the increase in gluteus maximus activation and work produced, which is responsible for the increased jump performance.

The study also cites an increase in postactivation potentiation as it relates to back squat depth.  Postactivation potentiation refers to increased muscular force generation after previous muscular activity.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Add Squats to Run Faster

14 Aug

squats-strength-training[1]At my facility, we encourage squats — and squat-type exercises — to improve sprint performance.  Research has also shown that squats can improve vertical jump and agility performance in athletes who perform the exercise regularly (athletes who swim, throw, and swing can also benefit from squats, which covers just about everyone).  Squats are a great choice to build the strength and power necessary to generate force against the ground, which is integral to speed, agility, and jump performance.

Recently, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research further corroborated the relationship between squats and sprint speed.  In their study, researchers found that athletes who did squats increased their sprint speed by 10% compared with those who did not do the exercise.

In addition to the Barbell Back Squat (pictured), try these squat variations:

  • Dumbbell Goblet Squat
  • Split Squat
  • Sumo Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Single-Leg Squat

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Vertical Jump Performance with Jump Training

1 May

Hockey-Squat-Jump[1]The improvement of an athlete’s vertical jumping ability can contribute significantly to overall sports performance.  Basketball and volleyball players are obvious examples of athletes who benefit from the ability to execute a strong vertical jump (VJ).  However, most other athletes can also benefit from jump training, because many sport-specific movements rely upon extension of the hip, knees, and ankles (triple extension).

Vertical jumps use a forceful and rapid concentric (pushing) action of the leg muscles to create separation from the ground.  Fast-twitch (Type IIa) muscle is a major determinant of force production.  For more on fast-twitch muscle development, please refer to Developing Fast-Twitch Muscle to Improve Power Output.

The following are examples of different types of jumps that can help you improve your strength, explosive power, and athleticism:

A squat jump (SJ) is a vertical jump from a static start.  From the static start position, maximal concentric muscular action is exerted, using triple extension.  You can further improve force development by adding resistance (an external load), such as a hex barbell, dumbbells, or weighted vest.

A countermovement jump (CMJ) starts with a movement in the opposite direction of the jump, followed by an explosive upward movement.  In addition to loaded squat jumps, this movement is executed in Olympic lifts, such as high pulls, power snatches, and power cleans.

The one-step approach jump (1-step AJ) is an exercise where an athlete takes a step forward into a CMJ.  An example of the 1-step AJ is a volleyball player approaching the net during the execution of a spike.  It’s preferable to incorporate the 1-step AJ into an athlete’s jump training only after the athlete has demonstrated the ability to perform a technically correct SJ and CMJ.

Depth jumps (DJ) are a type of plyometric exercise that use potential energy and the force of gravity to store energy in the muscles and tendons.  The DJ is performed by having the athlete step off an elevated platform, landing, then reversing the movement into a powerful, vertical jump.  Depth jump training is a common training modality for improving lower extremity power and speed.

Jump training should always incorporate proper landing mechanics: The athlete should focus on landing with hips down and back; knees bent and pointing straight ahead; and on the entire surface of the foot (not only on the balls of the feet)

Athlete’s who engage in both strength training and VJ exercises have a better chance of improving their VJ performance to a greater degree than those who only strength train or jump train independently.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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