Increasing your Vertical Jump
Athletes are forever striving for ways in
which to compare themselves to other athletes and prove superior. We
measure ourselves in miles run, weight lifted (or pressed, or pulled), laps
completed, and height jump (among other things, of course). There are
reasons to increase these things ranging from improvement of your game to
sheer competition, but any reason is reason enough to better yourself.
If you are a basketball player, a volleyball
player, or a participator in track and field, you might be looking for ways
to increase your vertical jump. The first step in any training program is
to find out where you are already. Stand on a flat surface in front of a
wall, and reach up as high as you can while flat-footed. The spot you
reached is marked for reference, and is known as your standing reach. The
next step is to take several (usually three) jumps from a standstill and
have your reaches marked at the peak of each jump. The difference between
the two is known as your vertical jump. It is important to remember that
you are jumping from a standstill, and not from a run-up.
you know how high you can jump already, you are ready to increase your
vertical jump. Your vertical jump is a measurement of how high you can lift
your bodyweight off the ground. To do this requires producing power, which
in physics is measured as power equals work over time (P = w/t). In sports
like this, the equation means that you must increase your strength and speed
in order to jump higher. Strength training will take you the first part of
training does not need to include upper body training if you don’t want to
bulk up above the waist. The most important muscles to improve are the
p-chain, which consists of the hamstrings, calves, lower back and glute
muscles, and your quadriceps which are not part of the p-chain, but which
are possibly the most important muscles to train for your vertical jump.
Two of the most beneficial lifts that you can do for yourself are the full
back squat, and the deadlift. Head to the gym and ask about other lifts
that will help with the p-chain muscles and your quadriceps.
The second factor that you will want to
increase is speed, but this is not important at all compared to strength
training. Without the strength to get yourself off the ground, speed is
unimportant. After you have focused on increasing your strength, though,
increasing you speed might give you a little extra edge on your vertical
jump skills. Your speed is a measure of how fast you can exert force, and
in the vertical jump there is no way to build up speed before the final
leap. There is a miniscule period of time (much less than a second) in the
vertical jump for you to exert your force and gain height in your jump. It
is important for you as an athlete to be able to exert the maximum amount of
force in the shortest period of time possible.
types of exercise that are best for increasing the speed aspect of your
vertical jump are plyometric exercises (exercises which allow you to absorb
the more energy during the counter movement, or eccentric contraction of an
explosive action) and explosive training like jump squats or power cleans.
If you are serious about increasing your
vertical jump, a few hours a week in the gym doing the right training could
be your ticket to better performance.