Vertical Jump - How to Jump Higher

The vertical jump is one of the most explosive athletic movements an individual can execute and a commonly used performance measure of relative lower body power output in athletic circles particularly in sports such as basketball, football, volleyball and track and field.

There are 4 key areas you need to work on. How much emphasis you need to put on each area will depend on your individual strengths and weaknesses as an athlete. I will give you an understanding of each of these qualities, how to improve them and a sample training schedule:

Michael Jordan, was rumoured to have an incredible 48" vertical jump!
Michael Jordan, was rumoured to have an incredible 48" vertical jump!

1. Movement Efficiency

Movement efficiency is a combination of your mobility, posture, co-ordination and technique.

The mobility aspect of movement efficiency is based primarily on your mobility in 3 key areas: thoracic, hip and ankle. The links contain some drills that you will benefit from performing in your warm-ups to not only improve your mobility, but also prepare yourself for vertical jump/strength/sprint/running training sessions.

The postural aspect of movement efficiency ties in with the mobility aspect in many respects. You currently have postural deficiencies in the feet, knee, hip, lumbar, upper back, shoulder girdle regions caused by lack of mobility (flexibility) and/or poor activation (strength), which may limit your athletic performance and possibly leave you more prone to particular injuries. Check out these three articles for more information on assessing and correcting individual postural deficiencies: Neanderthal No More Series and Hips Don't Lie

The co-ordination aspect of movement efficiency relates to how cleanly you can execute general athletic movements. Mastering a variety of different strength, jump and mobility drills (such as those listed here) with good technique will be of most benefit to your co-ordination, as will training barefoot or with Vibram FiveFingers to activate dormant stabilising muscles around the foot, ankle, knee and hip in particular as well importantly improving proprioception (better body awareness).

The technique aspect of movement efficiency refers to how cleanly you can execute the specific athletic movement (in this case the vertical jump). Luckily the vertical jump is not a highly technical movement, so having good general co-ordination (as per mentioned) will suffice. The key technique tips to remember are to rapidly descend into your jump and make maximum use your arms to thrust you higher.

Vertical jump test at the NFL Combine (wallstcheatsheet.com)
Vertical jump test at the NFL Combine (wallstcheatsheet.com)

2. Relative Body Maximum Strength

Relative Body Strength is how much force (strength) you can apply relative to your body weight (RBS = Strength/BW).

This quality can be improved in two ways:

  • Lowering bodyweight (fat), whilst maintaining or improving strength or not losing strength at a faster rate.
  • Increasing strength, whilst maintaining or decreasing bodyweight or not gaining weight at a faster rate - for the vertical jump, the most important muscle groups to strengthen will be the prime movers of the lower body - the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals and calves - with exercises such as: squat variations, deadlift variations, powercleans, good mornings, pull throughs, hyper-extensions, reverse hyper-extensions, split squats, lunges, glute ham raises, pistol squats etc.

Testing Relative Body Maximum Strength

As the vertical jump is largely dependent on the strength and power capabilites of the lower body, your one repetition maximum (1RM) in the back squat,.an exercise which involves all the prime movers of the lower body, is widely considered the best measure of your lower body strength.

If you don't feel comfortable testing your 1RM, then you can always test your 2RM or 3RM or 4RM or 5RM or 6RM etc. and make a conversion to your 1RM using a 1RM calculator, such as this one (the closer the weight is to your 1RM the more accurate the result). Using these results:

  • If your Back Squat 1RM is less than 1.5x your bodyweight, then you will probably get most of your results from improving relative body strength.
  • If your Back Squat 1RM is 1.5-2x your bodyweight, then you will probably get most of your results from a combination of improving relative body strength, improving relative body power and reactive strength.
  • If your Back Squat 1RM is more than 2x your bodyweight, then you will probably get most of your results by improving relative body power and reactive strength (see below) whilst at least maintaining relative body strength.

3. Relative Body Explosive Power

Relative Body Power is how much power (strength x speed) you can apply relative to your body weight (RBP = Power/BW). It's a similar concept to relative strength, except the focus is rate of force development (RFD), rather than absolute force (strength).

This quality can be improved in two ways:

  • Lowering bodyweight (fat), whilst maintaining or improving strength or not losing strength at a faster rate - as per mentioned in the above section.
  • Increasing power output (strength x speed), whilst maintaining or decreasing bodyweight or not gaining weight at a faster rate - power exercises which target the prime movers of the lower body, particularly those that involve triple extension (hip extension, knee extension and ankle extension in the one movement), will give you best results - with exercises including: olympic lift variations (Power Cleans, Power Snatches, Push Press/Jerks, Jump Shrug), speed/DE squats (using 50-60% of 1RM back squat), Pause Jump Squats (using 15-30% of 1RM back squat), Box Jumps, Split Squat Jumps

Testing Relative Body Explosive Power

As the vertical jump is largely dependent on the strength and power capabilities of the lower body, your one repetition maximum (1RM) in the power clean, a power exercise which involves all the prime movers of the lower body, is widely considered one of the best measures of your lower body power. As the power clean is a complex movement make sure you are well versed with the lift technically before performing with heavy weights.

As mentioned with the squat test, if you don't feel comfortable testing your 1RM, then you can always test your 2RM or 3RM or 4RM or 5RM or 6RM etc. and make a conversion to your 1RM using a 1RM calculator, such as this one (the closer the weight is to your 1RM the more accurate the result). Using these results:

  • If your Power Clean 1RM is less than 1x your bodyweight, then you will probably get most of your results from improving relative body strength and power.
  • If your Power Clean 1RM is 1-1.5x your bodyweight, then you will probably get most of your results from a combination of improving relative body strength, improving relative body power and reactive strength.
  • If your Power Clean 1RM is more than 1.5x your bodyweight, then you will probably get most of your results by improving reactive strength (see below) whilst at least maintaining relative body strength and power.

4. Plyometric Ability

Plyometric ability (Reactive Strength) is your ability to produce force after a counter movement (transitioning from deceleration to acceleration) - the elastic reflex actions of the muscle tendon units.

Reactive strength can be improved in 2 ways:

  • Improve Force Absorption - being able to absorb and stabilise more force (deceleration)
  • Improve Reflex Reaction - being able to elastically produce more force after a counter movement (acceleration after deceleration)

Examples of exercises that will help improve reactive plyometric ability include lateral cone jumps, hurdle jumps, altitude landings, 3 step jumps and depth jumps.

Testing Plyometric Ability

Kelly Baggett outlines a great way to test reactive strength in his aforementioned book:

1. Measure your normal standing vertical jump.

2. Starting off with a 12" box measure your reactive vertical jump (depth jump).

3. Repeat step 2, increasing the height of the box in 6" increments until your reactive jump is less than your vertical jump.

If your best reactive jump is higher than your best stationary jump, you would be best served by focusing most of your training on improving strength and RFD.

If your best reactive jump is lower than your best stationary jump, you would be best served by focusing most of your training on improving plyometric ability (reactive strength).

Vertical jump standards (howtojumphigherrevealed.com)
Vertical jump standards (howtojumphigherrevealed.com)

Basic Sample Program

This program is designed for the average athlete looking to improve his/her vertical jump. For further insight into the art of vertical jumping and more individualized programming I would strongly recommend obtaining a copy of Kelly Baggett's Vertical Jump Bible.

Monday

Warm-up

Plyometrics

Ankle Jumps or Ricochet Jumps - 3 sets of 20 reps (1.5-2 min rest between sets)

3 step jump or Altitude Drops (from 110-120% height of maximum standing vertical jump) - 5 sets of 4 repetitions (2 min rest between sets)

Weights

Barbell Back Squats or Barbell Front Squats - 3 work sets of 6 repetitions (keep weight the same for all sets, rest 3-5 min between sets - increase weight by 1-2.5% every week)

Barbell Good Morning or Cable Pull Throughs - 3 work sets of 8 to 12 repetitions (keep weight the same for all sets, rest 3 min between sets - try to increase weight or reps every week)

Tuesday

Upper Body Weights or Rest or Conditioning e.g. Extensive Tempo Runs or BW circuit training

Wednesday

Warm-up

Regular Barbell Deadlifts or Barbell Snatch Grip Deadlifts - 4 work sets of 4 repetitions (keep weight the same for all sets, rest 3-5 min between sets - increase weight by 1-2.5% every week)

Reverse Lunges or Bulgarian Split Squats (with either dumbbells or barbells) - 2 work sets of 8 repetitions (keep weight the same for all sets, rest 3-5 min between sets - increase weight by 1-2.5% every week)

Thursday

Upper Body Weights or Rest or Conditioning

Friday

Warm-up

Plyometrics

Slalom Jumps or 4 Star Drill - 3 sets of 20 reps for slalom jumps (1.5-2 min rest between sets), 3 sets of 8 reps for 4 star drill

Box Jumps or Split Squat Jumps - 5 sets of 5 repetitions (per leg for split squat jumps, 2 min rest between sets)

Weights

Barbell Speed Squats (use 50-60% of 1RM squat) or Barbell Power Cleans - 5 work sets of 3 repetitions (1 minute rest for speed squats, 3-5 min rest between sets for Power Cleans)

Reverse Hyper-extensions or Romanian Deadlifts (dumbbell or barbell) - 2 work sets of 8 to 12 repetitions

Saturday

Rest or Conditioning

Sunday

Rest

*NOTE: It's advisable that you consult a qualified health professional before starting a new exercise or training regime.

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Comments 8 comments

Adam Linkenauger 6 years ago

I agree with a lot of everything you said! You definitely do a nice job of explaining strength/reactive ratio! Well done. Though I personally believe jumping technique is extremely underrated, and you can gain inches INSTANTLY by just learning proper technique. I was an ACC champion high jumper, so that's where I learned how much of a difference the technical side of jumping can actually make!

You did a great job and you can clearly tell you know your stuff!

Well done,

Adam Linkenauger


Basketball rebounder 6 years ago

Most comprehensive list ever. I though i have found everything on other hubs but these have has offered more information, thank you very much. I would surely utilize this to further improve my jump.


jump manual 6 years ago

your right. there are a lot of ways to achieve your goal of jumping higher. In my part enough desire, patience and hard work is the first thing I need to achieve it.


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u should give direct information .....................


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poetrerne 14 months ago

you have done a great process in this subject!


AsiaeDube 3 months ago from Los Angeles, CA 90071


AsiaeDube 3 months ago from Los Angeles, CA 90071

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