1. Give priority to glutes and hamstrings
Train the posterior chain: Biomechanists have estimated that the glutes and hamstrings contribute respectively 40% and 25% of one’s height in vertical jump test. It is of my opinion that driving up poundages in basic pulling strength movements such as the deadlift and variations of the Olympic pulls will provide a base for rapid power improvements once more dynamic lifts are introduced such as the power snatch.
Direct isolation for muscle like the quadriceps and calves produce only minimal increases in vertical jump improvement.
2. Train them as a posterior chain
Because the erector spinae, glutes and hamstrings and linked by the sacro-tuberal and dorso-sacral ligaments, favor compound exercises such as high bench step-ups, reverse hypers, variations of the olympic pulls (snatch and clean versions) so the entire posterior chain is worked in unison.
When pressed for time, isolation exercises for the posterior chain such as leg curls for the hamstrings do not transfer much for the improvement of the vertical jump. However, if more time is allowed for the development of performance, they can significantly help for the long term development of the vertical jump.
3. Alternate between strength cycles and power cycles
A sure fire way to improve the vertical is use cycles that drive the squat and deadlifts upwards as the ones illustrated in table 1
with cycles that propel the more dynamic lifts like the power clean (table 2).
In your strength cycles keep the time under tension to 10-30 seconds per set, use 5-10 sets per exercise, keep the rest intervals near complete, that is in the 4-5 minutes range. Using longer time under tension will access lower threshold motor units which don’t as good power production potential.
In your power cycles keep the time under tension below the 10 seconds mark, use 6-8 sets per exercises. Depending on the choice of exercise , your rest intervals will vary between 3-5 minutes between sets. For example a set of 6 jump squats will require 3 minutes rest intervals, will a set of 3 reps in the push jerk will necessitate 5 minute rest intervals.
For neurological reasons that go beyond the scope of this book, do not train with mixed tempos during the same workout. In other words, don’t do power cleans which can only be done explosively with back squats done on a 5250 tempo (5 seconds eccentric, 2 seconds isometric pause in stretched position, 5 seconds concentric range, 0 seconds isometric pause in contracted. position). If you try to do fast work at the same time as you are trying to do drive your hypertrophy, it will be hard to teach the central nervous system the concept of acceleration.
4. Stretch the hip flexors
Keeping the hip flexors loose allows one to fire the hip extensors maximally without having the hip flexors decelerate the jumping movement.
In fact a simple 5 minute hip flexors stretching routine can result in an immediate improvement of the vertical jump by 2 to 4 cm.
5. Pay attention to the shoulder girdle
The shoulder girdle contributes as much 15% of the height of the vertical jump. If you are not convinced, measure the difference between jumping using your arms for momentum versus jumping while keeping your hands on your hips.
In vertical jumps for figure skating the shoulder abductors are to be trained, while the shoulder flexors are more important for jumping in volleyball and basketball.
Table 1: The 10 ten strength exercises for the vertical jump (Poliquin©, 1998)
1. Snatch deadlifts on podium
2. Front squats
3. Back squats
4. Romanian Deadlifts
5. Seated Good Mornings
6. Standing Bent Knee Good Mornings
7. Reverse Hypers
8. Glute-Hamstroc Raises
9. Supine Hip Extensions on Swiss Balls
10. Rack Deadlifts
Copyright ©2010 Charles Poliquin