#1. How to Jump Higher
How to jump higher? Increasing our vertical leap can give us an edge in our sport of choice.
In addition to the advantage of a higher vertical, the same muscles involved in increasing
our vertical will also give us better overall quickness.
So how is it done? Why are there so many programs and products that seem to have
differing methods? When you are out doing your searching for the next training program
or the next product you are going to test to increase your vertical there are a few things I
recommend that you keep in mind. These few principles can help you understand the
underlying principles behind an increased vertical and give you better insight as to what
YOU need to do next in order to answer the question.
Is the question how to jump higher or how to increase my jumping endurance?
Probably none of you really ever think about this question… but if you did you would
realize that often you are training your jumping endurance and not your jumping
explosion. For example.. if you were training to run the 100 yard dash would you train by
running 2 miles every day? NO! Why? Because distance running optimizes the muscle fibers
that provide endurance… NOT the muscles that provide speed and power.
THIS PRINCIPLE ALONE WILL SAVE COUNTLESS ATHLETES UNTHINKABLE HOURS OF
INEFFECTIVE TRAINING! Just because you are tired, and sweaty, and your legs are sore
does not mean you are training correctly. In fact, training your explosive power can be
quite counter intuitive. You would be better of doing 3 – 4 sets of 8 very explosive reps
that you would doing 3 – 4 sets of 20 – 30 less explosive reps.
Here is another example to illustrate this idea. If your vertical is currently 19 inches and all
your training involves repetitious exercises requiring you to jump within the 6 – 12 inch
range you will not be working to train your explosion.
How do you jump higher?
BY EMPHASIZING EXPLOSION AND GOING BEYOND OR YOUR CURRENT
EXPLOSION CAPABILITIES IN EVERY TRAINING EXERCISE.
Absolutely guaranteed. If you train with that kind of intensity, you will notice explosion
gains, and vertical increases faster than you ever have before. Does this make sense? I hope
it does because it will make the difference between results and excitement about your
training and potential burnout because of slow results.
#2. Vertical Jump Training Program Fundamental Principles
WARNING!! The principle and practices of this system are extreme and should be
undertaken with extreme caution. A spotter is advised when using heavy resistance. The
author takes no responsibility for any injury that the user may incur.
The 10 aspects of a jump training program: During my training, research, and education as
a personal trainer I have concluded that there are 10 aspects involved in a vertical jump.
Your improvement is dependent upon your capabilities in these 10 aspects, and therefore
the flight training program is based on their improvement. When each of these qualities is
increased there is a synergistic affect; which means that they all work together toward one
The following is intended as a brief introduction to help you understand what you need
1. Strength: Your ability to jump is directly related to your ability to create force (AKA your
strength). We are working on developing you jumping muscle fibers (AKA Fast Twitch
2. Neurological Recruitment: Your ability to jump is directly related to how your nervous
system recruits muscle fibers in order to create force.
3. Quickness: You may be strong but how fast can you generate it. QUICKNESS +
STRENGTH = EXPLOSION. Some people have great amounts of strength, yet they do not
have the quickness to create the explosion.
4. Fuel: Are you providing your body with the nutrients that you need in order to 1. Build
muscle and 2. Use that muscle? It is not necessary to adopt a complicated diet. Vitamins
and supplements are not neccessary only if you are not obtaining nutrients for you regular
diet (“www.mypramid.gov” provides you with basic dietary guidelines). Overdosing on
protein does not increase muscle mass. Creatine could be of assistance to provide more
intense workouts and performances (Your body uses a chemical called ATP to contract
muscles. Creatine is naturally created by the body to to be used for high intensity activities.
The theory behind a creatine supplement is to provide you with more of the fuel needed
for high intensity workouts; which means more efficient training and performance.) It is
not required that you try this supplement. You are advised to consult your doctor before
making any dietary alterations.
5. Balance: A lack of balance jeopardizes your ability to harness your strength and
quickness. Efficient balance promotes an efficient use of strength and quickness. Better
balance results in more graceful jumping ability.
6. Form: Many different muscles are used to promote upward motion ie. quads,
hamstrings, calves, abdominal, arms etc. Forward momentum may also be converted into
upward motion. Proper form synergizes all muscles and momentum to create a rush of
upward propulsion. To demonstrate, try to jump without using your arms or without
thrusting your knee in the air.
7. Stability: Each muscle employs stabilizer muscles that hold other joints and muscles in
place to facilitate the intended action. If there is a lack of stability other parts of the body
may absorb, or hinder the force generate for jumping.
8. Flexibility: Flexibility is defined as the Range of Motion about a joint. Sufficient flexibility
allows your limbs the leverage and momentum they need to create maximum force. Can
you imagine how the tin man would jump? Flexibility acts as a “lubricant” for our jumping
9. Body Composition: Excess weight hinders upward motion. Do not attempt to lose
weight excessively fast. When you starve yourself to lose weight, your body automatically
lowers it’s metabolism as a security measure. Which means that you will be susceptible to
gaining all that weight back and more. The best way to lose weight is to have a diet
centered around the food guide pyramid, and to be conscient of the energy balance
The energy balance principle means that if you expend more calories than you intake you
will lose weight; if you intake more calories than you expend you will gain weight; and if
you intake and expend the same amount of calories, your weight will remain static. Eating
well and doing the workout will result in a healthier body composition. If you are a little
over weight think of it this way: while you are training that extra weight will serve to
increase your muscle size, and when the fat goes away your muscles will be all the more
stronger for having carried it. If you are extremely overweight you may want to postpone
the workout until you have reached an appropriate body composition for these workouts;
consult your medical professional.
10. Hereditary Factors: Each individual inherits a certain amount of slow twitch and fast
twitch muscle fiber. Slow twitch fibers cannot yet be converted to fast twitch muscle fibers.
What we can do is increase the fiber size and strength of the muscles that we have been
given. Women’s muscle just as efficient as men’s muscles; however, men are generally
endowed with more amounts of muscle fiber than women
#3. Starting strength and vertical jump training
Starting strength is your ability to begin a movement with high levels of strength, and thus
high levels of velocity.
Understand that the greater strength you have during a movement, the greater speed you
will overcome the resistance of your own body weight and gravity, which results in a
higher vertical jump.
A vertical jump is executed in a bout 1/4 of a second. This short period of time limits the
amount of strength you are able to “recruit” during the movement. This means simply
that you are only able to use a small percentage of your potential strength during a vertical
jump movement. I call this “explosive strength.”
Limit strength is the total amount of strength you have available to you. You can only
recruit a percentage of your limit strength during a vertical jump (explosive strength). So
we arrive at tip #1 for increasing starting strength:
Increase your limit strength, and explosive strength
The greater your limit strength the larger a percentage of that strength will be. For example
if you can squat 200 pounds and are able to use 50% of your strength in the short period
of time that a vertical jump takes place, the you are able to use 100 pounds of
strength. However, if you increased your limit strength to 400 and are still only able to
use 50% than you are able to use 200 pounds of strength.
When you train your muscle you strengthen muscle fibers through a certain range of
motion. To improve your starting strength you want to make sure your strength levels at
the exact joint angle of the beginning of the movement are improved.
Increase strength at the joint angle where a movement begins
Record your vertical jump. Pause the video at the beginning portion of your movement
and remark the angles of the ankle, knee, and calf. It is important that you strengthen the
muscles at these particular joint angles. Maximal or supra-maximal isometric holds at these
joint angles in compliment with full range of motion resistance training will ensure that
this joint angle is properly strengthened.
Perform the vertical jump from the starting position with no starting counter movement
Practice the movement by placing your body in the starting joint angles, pausing (to
eliminate plyometric aid), and exploding at maximum effort.
Upon landing bring your butt to the ground and then move back into the starting angles
and pause. We don’t want to train the CNS (central nervous system) to pause at the starting
movement, so we go down further, and come back into the movement.
Perform this movement daily to “grease the groove” which allows synaptic facilitation to
take place and the movement to be performed using a greater percentage of your limit
During the same training session perform counter-movement jumps to avoid retraining the
plyometric stretch reflex.
Contrast training from starting position to increase muscle recruitment patterns
This is very similar to the above, however you will first perform the movement with
dumbells (10 – 20% of 1RM) followed by the same movement without the dumbbells.
WHY? – Additional accommodating resistance during the jump signals to your body to
recruit more muscle fiber, then when you eliminate the additional resistance you gradually
retrain your CNS to recruit more muscle fiber and consequently move with greater velocity.
A note on vertical jump program design:
Starting strength may interfere with the plyometric stretch reflex. This is why we want to
go all the way down after each repetition, combine counter movement jumps, and follow
a starting strength phase with a plyometric phase.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, and there are other ballistic training techniques
to improve your starting strength, the few techniques above will allow you to recruit more
muscle strength, at the proper joint angles, and with improved movement efficiency. The
added power and velocity at the beginning of the movement will result in a greater ending
velocity and height for your vertical jump
#4. Jump higher by choosing the right shoe. Fact or fiction?
Can the right shoe really make you jump higher?
Let’s start by saying, that the right shoe can make a difference in your performance.
However, the benefits of the correct shoe are very limited, so don’t get your hope too
A shoe is not going to allow you to jump higher or run faster than your muscles are capable.
The idea of enhancing performance with the right shoe, is better put in perspective by
trying not to impair performance with the wrong shoe!
The shoe definitely does not make the player. We have all seen pitiful athletes sporting
Jordan’s shoes. The following benefits can be considered when purchasing a pair of shoes.
1. How they feel and how they make you feel.
If it ain’t comfortable just forget about it. A comfortable shoe is probably the most
important consideration when purchasing a shoe. If the shoe is uncomfortable and not
shaped to your foot, or even the wrong size it is going to be nothing but a distraction.
You want the shoe to be tight fitting, but not smothering and constraining. The shoe should
feel like just an extension of the foot.
Also consider how a shoe makes you feel. This is definitely an “intangible” but if the shoe
makes you feel like an all start, the placebo effect (which is very real) is is going to give
you a confidence boost. If you feel like a dope in the shoe, it’s certainly not going to help.
TIP: Insoles can go a long way to add comfort to the shoe. I would recommend a firm but
padded insole, preferable one that you can customize to form your foot. Stay away form
the super cushy insoles made of gel. They will just make your shoe slide all around. Some
soles you can heat in the oven and form fit to your foot.
2. High tops for ankle stability?
If you like high tops fine, but don’t choose them for the “stability.” A high top is not going
to prevent your ankle from rolling. If you have ankle problems get an ankle brace like this
You should also strengthen your ankle, as well as retrain with unstable surface training. A
strong and reactive ankle is your best bet at ankle health… not high tops. Which will only
give you a false sense of security.
3. Will a light shoe make you run faster or jump higher?
Most shoes are 11 – 20 oz. (.6 – 1.2 pounds). Frankly the weight here is not going to make
a significant difference on your performance. You lose more weight if you go to the
bathroom before you play!
The new Koby 5 is 11 oz and the lightest shoe available. You may be able to feel the slight
difference in weight, which may make you feel lighter and induce a nice placebo effect,
but as far as physics are concerned, the additional few ounces is not going to make any
significant difference. But if the shoe make’s you feel light and fluffy I say go for it!
4. Springs, special insoles, rubber, lunar foam etc…
This type of feature in a shoe has gotten a lot of athletes pretty excited for “instant” results.
Obviously it doesn’t deliver or we would all be seeing the results.
The reactivity of a jumper or sprinter does not come from their shoe. It comes through the
entire muscle/tendon complex of the involved muscles which most definitely can be
improved through proper training. Even if a shoe were capable (which they are not), if
your body is not capable of support the extra boost it won’t do you any good anyways.
There is no shoe that will turn you into a bouncy ball.
5. Carbon fiber shank plate in the sole
Some companies tote a fiber plate in the sole so that your “toe off” isn’t weak. This
supposedly allows you to push with your entire foot and not have to worry about your
This is a great concept, but shoes already have a large slab of padding and support on the
bottom. The idea of additional support aside from the soles that all shoes have, is a
I don’t mean to sound negative here. I love a great pair of shoes. But I have also seen
hundreds of gimmicks come and go as far as shoes are concerned. We should realize that
the benefits from shoes are very limited, and turn to a sound training program to make
A shoes ability to “inspire” a player, as well as the comfort, and fit of a shoe are most
Let me know what you like to see in a shoe
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