Last Updated on January 28, 2015 by Jimson Lee
This is Part 2 of 8 Key Tips To A Better Vertical Jump. Click here for Part 1.
This article is guest blogged by Travis Hansen, author of The Speed Encyclopedia.
He also wrote Why Acceleration is More Important than Top Speed in Most Sports and Building Your Horsepower – The Power Development Model Part 1 and Part 2, which are full excerpts from his book.
To read all his articles on this blog, click here.
8 Key Tips To A Better Vertical Jump (Part 2)
Below is the list, and I will detail each of them specifically in the sequence they are presented.
- #1 – Size
- #2 – Speed
- #3 – Strength
- #4 – Power
- #5 – Potentiation
- #6 – Technique
- #7 – Frequency
- #8 – Anterior Hip Mobility/Flexibility
Lower and Upper body strength output is going to have a profound effect on vertical jump performance according to a lot of legitimate real world evidence and research. For example, a study in 2002 from The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed at a parallel depth in the back squat, the Vastus Lateralis muscle, followed by the Gluteus Maximus were the most active out of all lower body musculature. These were followed by the the various hamstring muscles and remaining quad muscles. 6
Coincidentally, emg reports of active skeletal muscles during the vertical jump pattern indicated that either the hips or quads were dominant muscle groups. 7 8 10 It really just depends on the person, their body structure, and the technique they are accustomed too. Form follows function. If you have solid tone and size in the glutes and hamstrings you are probably going to hinge more at the hips and rely on their contribution to propel you upward, and vice versa. However, both are going to be the most active groups regardless though. If you watch athletes perform the test and pause at the bottom, you are going to notice differences in joint angles and their approach, of course, but the important thing here is that there seems to be far more similarity rather than differences between how the back squat/deadlift and the vertical jump in terms of how they affect our muscles. With that being said, these heavy resistance training movements are going to have vast carryover to your jumping capacity! Axial loaded exercises like the squat and deadlift generate high levels of vertical force, and so does the vertical jump, obviously. They all share similar joint angles and muscle activity levels. As a result, the squat and deadlift then become sound “Specific Strength” exercise selections for vertical jump development. Squat and Deadlift variations force you to recruit your muscles and apply force in a manner very similar to your specific jump approach. Let me put it this way. If you did absolutely nothing but squat and deadlift heavy over the long-term, you would put some inches on your vert.
In case anyone is still curious of the definition, power is strength x speed. The more force you can generate and the faster you can generate it, the more powerful you will be. Force plate measurements have identified this for us already. If two people weigh the same exact weight and one can recruit more force relative to the other person during the test, then they will accelerate higher and longer. It’s just simple physics. The Vertical Jump is a direct power assessment. That’s why it’s imperative to include not only strength and speed oriented training that was just discussed, but also direct forms of power training. Specific examples include hang cleans and snatches, jump squats, speed squats and deadlifts with and without bands and chains, power cleans, etc. The nature of these movements demand you to recruit your muscles fast and forcefully, so you will be better prepared to excel when the time comes to test.
Lets take the Hang Clean for example. The reason why this exercise and many others works so well for improving the vertical jump is because:
- A, research supports it. I shared 3 studies that supported the Hang Clean for increasing sprinting speed in my book, and complements of Bret Contreras, I was able to locate one more taken from Hori in 2008 from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. The study found that 1RM Hang Clean ability scaled with 20 meter sprinting speed, jump squat power, and vertical jumping height!! 11
- B, ground contact time is very short.
- C, it’s at a similar location on the Force-Velocity Curve. Meaning it combines both speed and strength to perform well, just like with the vertical jump. And the technique of each will be pretty close, just like with the squat and deadlift pattern.
Travis Hansen was the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Reno Bighorns of the NBADL for their 2010 season, and he is currently the Director of The Reno Speed School inside the South Reno Athletic Club. He is the author of The Speed Encyclopedia.