There’s a lot of information on this site and in the Jump Science posts on facebook and instagram. When I write, I try to give people actionable information. I hope that after reading it, people know what to do. It’s easy to write in a more subjective and philosophical way, use a lot of phrases that sound smart, and maintain a sort of political correctness by not making any strong statements one way or another. This can produce writing that sounds great but leaves the reader still wondering what to do. I try to avoid that and give a clear picture of how to use the presented information. That being said, I still get very general questions like, “What can I do to improve my vert?” So I want to provide a quick summary of how to improve jumping ability.

The 4 most important things to do…

  • Accumulate a history of jumping. It would be nice if we could practice jumping almost every day and do hundreds of jumps per week. But in the interest of quadriceps tendon health, aim for a more conservative number like 50 approach jumps per week. Athletes who already have a long history of jump practice may not need to jump much at all.
  • Use elastic volume. You don’t want to be an athlete who primarily lifts weights and then does some jumping on the side. You want to primarily do explosive, elastic activity and use strength training as a tool on the side. Playing a sport, faster running, and various types of low intensity jumps can be used to accumulate elastic volume.
  • Get flexible. Do strength training with full range of motion and establish a daily stretching routine.
  • Increase deep squat strength. 2x body weight back squat is a good long term goal for a lot of people, however that may be unrealistic for really tall athletes, and shorter athletes may want to aim even higher. More specifically, you want to increase strength in a way that also improves power. While simply lifting heavy weights can be effective, driving up strength using a majority of lighter, faster reps tends to yield better power improvement.

How many times you have jumped in your life, your athletic background, your flexibility, and how much you can squat are about 95% responsible for your jumping ability. But that doesn’t mean those things are a complete training program. There are other things to include, which serve the purpose of preventing injury or trying to eke out some of those remaining 5 percentage points.

  • Hip hinges for hamstring and hip extension strength.
  • Strength exercises for structural integrity in otherwise neglected muscles (ex. lunges for adductors and rectus femoris).
  • Some multidirectional activity for movement variety (ex. basketball).
  • Plyometrics.

Look around the site for more details on these various aspects of training. Here are some links to get you started.

Stretching
Muscle Synergy
How to Squat
Strength Training for Athleticism
The Key to Long Term Athletic Development
Taking Time Off
Periodization

If you want a program to follow, check out Jump Science 2.0.

If instead of jumping, you want to improve some other explosive athletic ability, the process actually remains largely the same. Let’s say speed is the goal. Replace the jumping practice with sprinting practice, pay special attention to hamstring injury prevention, and balancing strength and speed becomes more challenging. Otherwise things stay the same. Let’s say you’re training for football. Throw in some more upper body strength and injury prevention. Pull-ups and pressing are the foundation in that department. Let’s say you throw the discus. Add some emphasis on rotational power. Otherwise things are the same. Practicing the sport, flexibility, and squat strength remain the foundation.