Jumping ability is a coveted feat of athleticism. Often times the highest jumpers make the best athletes as they typically are very coordinated, fast sprinters, and have a high amount of strength in relation to their body weight. In fact, I use the vertical jump as one of my indicator exercises to track progress at Genesis. I know that if I can increase vertical jump I have increased the athlete’s ability to display power. Power is the difference maker in athletics, it is the product of speed and strength. A powerful athlete has the ability to display their strength quickly.
Coordination, speed, and strength will determine an athletes vertical jump. This means that we need a combination of practicing jumping technique, strength training, and plyometric training to increase the vertical jump.
Getting stronger through strength training helps to improve the vertical jump as athletes increase their muscular coordination and ability to excite higher threshold motor units. Increased motor unit recruitment allows more fibers to contribute to the action of jumping. Strength training will create an immediate improvement in jumping ability in novice athletes but eventually improvements will need to be made through plyometrics and jump training. Slow strength training movements such as heavy squats lend themselves to slower two footed standing jumps. As athletes we need to be able to run and jump in multiple directions off both legs, therefore it is not enough to just utilize strength training. In order to improve high speed jumping we need to implement plyometric and jump training.
Plyometrics refer to a quick reversal of muscle phases from eccentric or isometric immediately to concentric actions. Plyometrics help train the stretch shortening cycle. An optimized stretch shortening cycle allows the athlete to store and use energy during the eccentric phase of the jump (lowering) to allow a great concentric phase (the takeoff).
As you can see a combination of heavier strength training combined with plyometrics, ballistics, and jump training leads to improved vertical jumping ability.
At Genesis I like to structure our training in a weekly high/low fashion to work both ends of the force velocity curve. During the week we have days where we will utilize higher intensities and weighted dumbbell jumps and then we will have days where we have lower intensities and perform speed squats and depth drops. In addition, I like to utilize bounding exercises, hurdle hops, medicine ball throws, box jumps, short sprints, depth jumps, and kettlebell swings.
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