Most athletes would say they wish they could jump higher or more frequently without fatigue. But how is it that you go about accomplishing this task? You have to build strength, or force you can create on an object, and power, how much energy you can create over a period of time, in this case quickly.
In the case of jumping, you will need to increase the strength in your legs, but also your ability to use this strength over a very short period of time. In other words, how much force can you generate very quickly in order to get up higher in the air? Let’s break it down and look at how to increase both strength and power and how to put it all together.
Increasing Strength for Jumping
General leg strengthening using machines, body weight, barbells, and dumbbells will all help you build strength. However, if you think about jumping and how quickly you need to be able to use this strength, there are a few things to focus on.
Muscular endurance - Jumping requires more of our fast twitch muscles which are the ones involved in explosive, quick activities. And if you plan to jump more than one time, like most sports require, you will need to be able to explode upwards numerous times. When working on strength, make sure the reps are high and work to fatigue in order to build up the endurance needed for jumping numerous times during a game.
Focus on the glutes - Most of us don’t even know how to activate our glutes, or buttock muscles, let alone contract them when we jump to utilize even more strength. Think of your glutes as elevator muscles to help you raise up or elevate up a level. If you can strengthen these muscles and then learn how to contract them when you jump, you’ll be able to get even higher.
Lower extremity stability - Strengthening the entire leg is important; but creating stability around our joints is oftentimes missed. Strengthening the hip, knee, and ankle muscles will provide stability to our leg so we can use more strength in our jump and not put strain through our joints.
A few examples of exercises for building strength include:
Back rack squats
Single leg squat to bench
Side stepping with resistance band
Building Power for Jumping
As mentioned earlier, power involves using strength or force over time. So, how quickly can you explode up in the air and with how much force! To improve power, we must include explosive movements and plyometrics. In this phase, focus on increased weight that you can do a few reps of and push the weight quickly or with force, but in a controlled manner.
When you are working on power, unlike strength, you do not want to work to fatigue. Instead, focus on working sets that are heavy, but controlled with good form. During these exercises you should be able to focus on contraction of muscles and technique in order to begin translating this power into your vertical jump.
A few examples of power exercises include:
Single leg lateral hops
Increasing your Vertical Jump
With the combination of increasing your strength and power, you will notice an improvement in your vertical jump height. If you want to see your best effort, make sure you are completing your attempts when you are warmed up, but not fatigued.
When allowed, use a one-step approach to gain momentum and increase power going upwards, not forwards. If you are unable to use the one-step approach then focus on squatting down to ~45 degrees and utilizing a huge arm swing to drive your body upwards. To jump our highest, we need to recruit all the muscles, yet try to eliminate wasted movements like moving forward instead of up.
Not Sure Where to Start?
If all of this is just jibber-jabber to you or maybe you’re not sure what your form looks like or how to recruit your glutes, then we need to chat! Working together on your technique and a training program could be the best thing that’s ever happened to your vertical jump, and strength and power! Check out my post "Not Sure Where to Start or When to Start Physical Therapy: 3 Key Indications" to learn more about if physical therapy is right for you.
You can schedule a No-charge phone consultation by clicking here. We will discuss your current situation, your goals, and what would be the best approach to take to get you there!