The World’s Best Vertical Jump Exercise

The World’s Best Vertical Jump Exercise

So, you have probably heard, the best way to improve your vertical jump is by doing plyometric training. This type of training includes ballistic hops, skips, and jumps that enhance the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) in your tendons, and in particular, your golgi tendon organ (GTO). The GTO is a proprioceptive sensory receptor organ that senses changes in muscle tension. It lies at the origin and insertion of skeletal muscle fibers into the tendonsof skeletal muscle. When there is tension placed on your muscles or tendons from lifting weights or landing from a jump, for example, the GTO sends signals to inhibit the muscle from exerting too much force as a safety mechanism. This is important as it ensures you don’t strain or tear a muscle. However, structured plyometric training can inhibit or desensitize the GTO to allow your muscles and tendons to harness more kinetic energy thus giving you the ability to produce more force and power in your jumps.

Depth Drop to Box Jump Trumps Them All

The depth drop to box jump is the most effective jump training that you can do because it inhibits the GTO with the deficit drop landing. The other mechanism that makes this drill effective is that it not only has a shock method but also effectively trains all three kinds of muscle contractions. These include eccentric, isometric, and concentric muscle contractions. Training all three phases will enhance intramuscular coordination which will allow you to jump higher and get off the ground faster.

How to Do This Drill

Landing– Reach out with one foot with your toes pointing up. This is calleddorsi flexion.Step off the box and land on both feet simultaneously applying pressure through the middle of your foot. You don’t want to land on your toes or your heels. Next, focus on sinking your hips back and positioning your chest over your thighs or knees while swinging both arms back. If you look at the video, notice that when I land, both arms are being pulled down and back so there is no wasted movement. This will make the transition faster so you can get off the ground quicker! For beginners, pause on the landing to ensure good mechanics and posture. As you progress, decrease ground contact time.

Transition– This phase of the jump is all about joint stiffness. As soon as your feet hit the ground, don’t allow your hips to continue dropping toward the ground. To avoid this, think about landing like a brick hitting the floor versus a slinky. This shock mechanism will help you improve the rate of force absorption allowing you to transition into your take off quicker.

Take Off– This is the part of the drill that everyone emphasizes. However, if the landing and transition are not efficient or done properly, the opportunity for an explosive take off will be minimized. To decrease your take off time and increase your jump height, push through the ground swinging your arms forward and upward. Think about driving through your big toe and rapidly extending your hips to get triple extension.

If you emphasize each aspect of the depth drop (landing, transition, and take off), you will notice more pop off the ground and increase your vertical jump height.

Program Implementation

After doing a proper warm up, you can include the depth drop to box jump drill before your strength training routine or superset with a compound lower body exercise like squats. When doing plyometrics drills, you want to focus on quality not quantity so keep the reps low and gradually increase the volume by adding more sets as your training progresses.

Week 1-2: 2×5

Week 3-4: 3×4

Week 5-6: 4×4


Increase Your Speed with Plyometric Training

Increase Your Speed
with Plyometric Training

When you hear the term “plyometric,” most people think of jumping or jump training. However, plyometric is defined as an action that causes a muscle to reach maximal force in the shortest time possible. We can take the term “plyometric” and directly apply it to speed training. Before we do, let’s review how the stretch-shortening cycle (SSC) contributes to increasing your speed with plyometric training by breaking down the three types of muscle contractions.

  1. Eccentric Phase – This is the lowering phase where the muscle lengthens.
  2. Isometric Phase – The static muscle contraction that acts as the bridge between the eccentric and concentric phase.
  3. Concentric Phase– This is the phase when the muscle contracts and shortens to move the external load.

Anytime you perform dynamic movement you are utilizing the SSC. For example, let’s take a typical squat. When descending downward, your hips move back. Your knees bend. The quads, hamstrings, and glutes lengthen. This is the eccentric phase of the squat. At the end of the eccentric phase, right before you transition upward, there is a slight pause at the bottom of the squat. This is the isometric phase. As you transition upward, your quads, hamstrings, and glute muscles shorten. This causes your knees and hips to extend, completing the concentric phase.

Now that we have gone over the SSC, let’s dive into the relationship between plyometrics and the SSC. We know that plyometric is a rapid, maximal force movement.  The stretch-shortening cycle is a 3-phase muscle contraction involved in dynamic movements. Now how do they relate to one another? Plyometric training helps enhance the SSC by rapidly going through the eccentric, isometric, and concentric phases. This trains dynamic movements like sprinting and jumping to be more efficient and explosive.

So, how can you increase your speed with plyometric training? If we separate the three phases of the SSC and train them individually, you will see an overall increase in speed. We train the eccentric part of a movement to be able to absorb more energy and power. We then train the isometric phase, so that the force we generated and absorbed in our eccentric phase is not lost in transition from eccentric to concentric and actually adds to the force production. Finally, we focus on the concentric phase, ensuring that we get the highest rate of force development out of the movement.

  1. Eccentric – Train slow and focus on your landing! Allow your muscles to recruit the necessary energy in the weight-room and spend 3-8 seconds on the way down in each exercise. When jumping, focus on the initial contact to the ground–don’t waste the energy produced. Avoid knees going in or out, hips swaying, or chest falling forward.
  2. Isometric – Train at a stop, hold the landing! Allow your muscles to maintain the energy that has been produced. Get to the bottom of your exercise and hold it for 3-8 seconds. When jumping, land properly, then hold that landing position for 2 full seconds before standing up.
  3. Concentric – Train fast and focus on exploding! Allow your muscles to use the energy produced, come out of the bottom of the exercise quickly, but don’t sacrifice form!

(Pro tip: Decrease the amount of weight when doing concentric training until you can adequately control that weight.)

When jumping, focus on the up portion being as explosive as you can make it. Throw your chest to the sky, keep your knees in line with your toes, and launch your hips through.

In a relatively short amount of time you will see an increase in speed by integrating plyometric training and emphasizing the SSC. A comprehensive program to increase speed should include an effective warm up, speed training, plyometrics, and strength and power movements. Be sure to rest 48 to 72 hours between plyometric workouts to maximize results!

 

 


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