Monday, February 6, 2012

Improve Vertical Jump for Football Combine Camp

Train to improve your vertical jump height before your football combine could improve your chances of getting a scholarship to play at the college level.

It won't just have to train correctly to improve your jump height. It will also improve your speed. Typically, those with the highest vertical jumps have the fastest 40 yard dash times.

So, here are 4 things you can do now to improve your vertical jump:

1. Improve your total body strength, especially leg strength. Overall strength training (including core training) is needed to stabilize joints, build muscle, correct postural problems and improve flexibility.

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.

Powerful athletic movements initiate with or transfer through your core area. Translation: a weak core will severely hurt your power output and vertical jump.

2. Explosive weight lifting will improve your power and set you apart from your athletic competitors. Make your total body more explosive.

Just as you can do medicine ball exercises, plyometric exercises and light dumbbell exercises explosively, you can also lift heavier weights explosively.

Especially at the start of the lift, explosive lifting can be done for exercises like:

--Bench press
--Shoulder press
--Leg press
--Hamstring curls
--Calf raises

....and also for bodyweight exercises, like:

--Power step ups
--Bodyweight squats
--Inverted rows

......and medicine ball exercises, like:

--Rotational exercises

Lifting weights explosively is an advanced form of exercise and shouldn't be done by beginners or youngsters. Your body should have the needed stabilization and strength before beginning explosive lifts.

It doesn't help you improve as an athlete 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.

Research has proven that only lifting heavy weights at a moderate or slow pace will not improve your explosive power.

3. Do plyometrics, upper and lower body. Plyometric exercises help you to increase leg power and arm power. Exercises like squat jumps, medicine ball throws and side-to-side hops are good examples.

A high level of eccentric strength is needed during the landing phase of a plyometric jump. Inadequate strength will result in a slow rate of stretch and less activation of the stretch reflex. The amortization phase, the time on the ground, is the most important part of a plyometric exercise.

It represents the time between the landing and the take off and is critical for power development. If the amortization phase is too long, the stretch reflex is lost and there is no plyometric effect. The take off is the concentric contraction that follows the landing. During this phase the stored elastic energy is used to increase jump height and explosive power.

Plyometrics represent high intensity training, placing great stress on the bones, joints, and connective tissue. While plyometrics can improve your speed, power, and performance, they also place you at greater risk of injury than less intense training exercises.

It is important to perform the exercises correctly before implementation of full-speed exercises. Jumping and landing techniques should be mastered by you. Exercises should also be performed on safe surfaces such as rubber mats, sprung floors, grass or sand. Concrete or other similar hard surfaces expose you to injury.

4. Do deep knee bends (pictured above) and deep knee bend jumps at the end of your workout. Deep knee bends will strengthen your knees and ligaments supporting them. Having strong, stable knee structures will influence how high you can jump.

For deep knee bends, make sure that your back is straight when you are bending your knees. Squat down as low as possible and rise back in a slow motion. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions. You can add dumbbells to this exercise as you progress.

Deep knee bend jumps are like deep knee bends. When you reach the lowest point of the squat, leap vertically and explosively as high as you can. When you land, squat back down and jump again. Do 10-15 repetitions.

Work hard, expect success at your next combine camp!

Be sure and download your Free Dumbbell and Medicine Ball Metabolic Fat Burner Workouts and start shaping your body faster!

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
Your Fitness University
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