Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Improve Your Vertical Jump To Improve Speed

Your vertical jump height is an indication of the power in your lower body and an indication of your speed. You need a comprehensive training program to improve your vertical leap.

Many times, plyometrics are over-emphasized and other aspects of training are not adequately done by the athlete. A certain amount of strength (core and overall) is needed to enhance your jumping power.

Quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, glutes and calves are targets for improvement if you want your vertical leap to improve. Squats, lunges, leg presses, step ups, hip abductors and calf raises are all good exercises to improve lower body strength. Also, the hang clean is a great exercise because you execute the exercise from the same position that you jump from (or the power position).

How much lower body strength do you need to develop optimum power? A male should be able to squat his body weight 8-10 times and a female should be able to squat about 75% of her body weight 8-10 times. If you are not able to squat, then you should be able to leg press about 1.5 times your body weight 8-10 times.

It doesn't help you to continually get stronger if power development is not there also. Power, or speed strength (how fast your muscles can produce force) is one of the best physical predictors of success in sports.

This is where plyometrics would come into play. Plyometrics is jump training and is definitely sport specific. Squat jumps (bodyweight and resisted), which are pictured above, are great for plyometric work. When performing depth jumps, never jump off a box that is higher than your vertical leap.

I recommend doing plyometric work 2 times a week and speed work 2 times a week. Strength work can be done 3 times a week. You should do your plyometric work on the same day that you do lower body strength training.

Lower body plyometrics would be done before your leg strength work because plyometrics are done with maximum effort. Therefore, you need to be fresh.

A more advanced technique would be to immediately follow a strength exercise with a biomechanically similar plyometric exercise. An example would be to do a set of squats at 85% of one rep maximum followed by a set of bodyweight squat jumps. This method has been proven to develop optimum power but it should only be used by advanced athletes.

Train hard and smart!

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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  1. Hi Mark

    this is a nice post about vertical jump training. I run and so often come across posts about vertical jump training that are so completely wrong it is frightening. You have a great blog and I hope plenty of people find it and enjoy your insights.

    Kind Regards

    Jack Woodrup

  2. Thanks for the comment Jack! I will check out your site.

  3. Hey Mark,
    I just found your site and really like this article. My son is 15 and training for football (played since 7). He started lifting with me at 11 and currently benches 230 (185 for 10)and squats (raw 345). He is one of the strongest freshmen in his school, but unfortunately we have never been very fast. So your advice will deffinitly help. Anyway, currently he is working out with the team at school and they are doing much of what you say here. But in addition he has started doing Insanity: The Asylum. I would love to get your input on this program for vert, speed and agility. I do sale the program but honestly just want your thoughts. It is a 30 program he wanted to try leading into the season. My website is My boy eats sleeps and breaths football and I want him to succeed but don't want him to overtrain or get injured. I would also love your thoughts on supplements for a highschool freshman. Alot of his friends are already taking Creatine and test. boosters. I will not allow him to take test boosters because of future problems but am on the fence about creatine. You can email me at Thanks!

  4. Hi Fletcher...thanks for the questions! Look for my email this week

  5. Hi there,

    The type of exercise is very easy and good for improving lower body strength.



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