Add three inches to your vertical with this jump mechanics workout!
Jumping is one of the most fundamental human skills, right up there with walking and running. It allows you to circumvent your physical limitations to literally reach new heights. Jumping is incredibly practical for those of us who are vertically challenged—it helps for reaching things on the top shelf or grabbing a pull-up bar, although most of modern society will rarely ever use this skill. I should note, however, that action movies have me convinced that one day I’ll have to rely on some mild parkour to jump between buildings and narrowly escape being captured by goons.
Do you want to jump higher?
I bet we can add 3 inches to your vertical by the end of this article via working on a few aspects of jumping you’ve never thought about. However, a better long-term strategy for jumping higher is a healthy mix of plyometrics and weight lifting.
Let’s start by breaking down a jump to see how we can improve each step in the process.
The backswing is hands down the most underappreciated part of the jump and arguably the most important. Think of jumping like shooting a rubber band. The backswing is where you decide how far back to pull the rubber band. If you want that thing to fly, you’ll pull it all the way back. Likewise, if you want to get off the ground, you’re going to bend your knees and bring your hips back.
Improving your backswing starts by understanding that when you have to make that leap from one building to the next, you don’t squat down till your butt is below your knees. You hinge.
You bend at the hips and bring your arms back so that you will have even more weight to throw in your intended direction.
That brings us to the next step: powerful hip thrusts.
The hip thrust
The hip thrust is where all of a jump’s power comes from. If you just swing back and don’t bring your hips forward, I don’t think you could even jump. (I’d love to watch someone try, though.)
The hip thrust is the hardest part of jumping to master, because it involves the most coordination and timing. Luckily there is an exercise that perfectly mimics that movement: a kettlebell swing.
*Pro tip: Have a professional teach you this movement; it is worth the cost of a personal training session.
The hip hinge is where you shift your weight in order to give yourself a mechanical advantage at the precise time of the takeoff. Mastering it will give you that advantage and make your jumps efficient. It also helps you with another hip-hinging activity that action heroes do after a daring escape. (sex)
The last part of the launch sequence is the takeoff, the phase of the movement where we finally get to push against the ground and reach for the heavens. This phase requires coordinating the pushing power in your quads and your calves, which can only be mastered through repetition.
This is where plyometrics reign supreme. We don’t need any weights for this; we just need to work on bridging the connections between different muscles and between your muscles and your brain.
Like many other things, if you want to be good at jumping, you have to practice. My two favorite exercises for doing that are jumping rope and box jumps.
Box Jumps are exactly what we are training to do, except that they allow us to practice jumping high without having to absorb the impact of dropping from that height repeatedly.
*Pro tip: Always step down from your box jumps, or hop off the front. Jumping off high platforms backward might look cool, but it is unnecessarily dangerous.
Jumping rope is great practice for your calves and is far more challenging than running. It also gives you the proprioception necessary to know how much effort you have to use to jump to a certain height. As a bonus, wearing a hoodie while jumping rope makes you feel like Rocky and makes your jumping montage way better.
What goes up must come down, but make sure you come down like a fucking ninja. If you are doing box jumps in the gym, nobody should hear your landing.
All that means is not to land on your heels. You need to land on the balls of your feet first, followed by your heels. If you ever jump to land on something narrow, you’ll notice you do this subconsciously, but on a large stable surface you should bring a little intention to your landing. Doing so allows you to absorb the impact through your leg muscles and puts less stress on your joints.
Finally let’s bring all these phases together into a jumping workout for vertical gainz:
· Warmup: Two minutes jumping rope
· Deadlifts: 3 x 8
· Box jumps: 3 x 6
· Kettlebell swings: 3 x 10
· Double-unders: 3 x 1 minute
· Cooldown: Three minutes of jumping rope
I know I promised you'd have three more inches on your vertical by the end of this article, in truth that probably hasn't happened yet. When you first go out and try to coordinate these movements in the way I described above, you'll likely loose an inch or two for overthinking it. However, after a few of the above workout and some practice, you'll easily add three inches to your vertical.
Enjoy the new heights!
Got fitness questions? I got answers. Send me an email at Jd@jakedermer.com