The ULTIMATE 8-Week Training Program for a Higher Vertical Jump

The Vertical Jump is a benchmark test to help determine athleticism and power.  No matter what your sport, athleticism and power are the absolute keys to your success.  There are a myriad of different exercises and programs out there that promise a higher vertical in a short amount of time.  The truth of the matter is that, no matter what plan you focus on, there are no short cuts.  Ultimately, an athlete’s ability to defy gravity and powerfully get of the ground comes down to three things:

  1. Their total body strength to weight ratio
  2. The rate of force development (RFD)
  3. The efficiency of their bio-mechanics or jumping technique

RELATED: 3 Tips to Instantly Increase Your Vertical Jump

When it comes to total body strength, while there must be a focus on lower body strength, too many times the core and upper body strength are often ignored as a component of an explosive vertical jump.  For example, studies have shown that 10% – 15% of the vertical jump comes from the arm swing.  In addition the core is incredibly important in not only body control while in the air but also in its ability to transfer force from the lower body to the upper body propelling the entire body upward.

An athlete’s Rate of Force Development (RFD) is another quality that is critical as you work through a plan aiming to improve an athlete’s explosiveness or vertical jump.  Just because you are strong doesn’t necessarily translate to you being explosive.  There are many strong athletes that are slow.  An athletes ability to express their strength quickly is literally the definition of explosive power.  Being strong just isn’t good enough.

Finally, developing good jumping mechanics is all about utilizing physics in your favor.  You must focus on performing quality repetitions of the movements that are critical to the type of jump you want to perfect.  Improving on your jumping mechanics will not only allow you apply an athlete’s explosiveness efficiently but it will also help to prevent injury.  This is a skill that must be practiced until the proper movement patterns and neuro-muscular connections are made.   With that in mind, the list below shows exercises you can use to develop the qualities important to achieve a higher vertical jump and become a more explosive athlete:

  • Strength: Squats, hip extension exercises, Lunges/Step-Ups, even upper-body work
  • Applying strength quickly: Pulls, plyometrics, Medicine Ball Throws
  • Technique: Squats, plyometrics

Some of these exercises may seem surprising. Here is why we focus on them:

  • Pulls: These teach the fast application of strength. They are not nearly as complicated as Power Cleans and Power Snatches.
  • Squats: This essential movement pattern is very similar to jumping. Strengthening these muscles is an important prerequisite to developing power for the Jump.
  • Hip extension exercises: The glutes and hamstrings have to be strengthened, not only to help with the Jump but also to allow for a safe landing.
  • Lunges and Step-Ups: These are included in the program so that you can focus on each leg. This helps to ensure that one leg doesn’t lag behind the other and negatively impact your performance.
  • Plyometrics: Plyometrics are critical because they teach the application of weight room strength and power. This program includes the following types of plyometrics:
    • Hops: These help to develop the ankles and shins.
    • Squat Jumps: Performing a Vertical Jump, but only after holding the bottom squat position.
    • Counter-movement Jumps: The Vertical Jump exercise. It makes sense to practice this in training before attempting it in testing.
    • Box Jumps: The focus is on jumping for height in this program. This is where you jump up to a high box.
  • Upper-body work: The upper body (the arm swing) contributes to Vertical Jump performance, so it’s important to do some upper-body work when focusing on the Vertical Jump.
  • Medicine Ball Throws: The Medicine Ball Throw exercises in this program either develop the jumping motion (like squatting and then throwing the ball behind you) or the upper body to assist with the jump.

Although they’re not included in this program, Kettlebell Swing variations are also a highly effective for helping you jump higher.

Now that we’ve covered the types of exercises, what follows is the eight-week program. It is broken into two blocks of training, each four weeks long. If you aren’t able to commit to a full eight-week plan, here’s a one-week vertical jump program that I created that features many of the elements described above.

Weeks One through Four

This part of the program develops your foundation. The focus is on building a muscle and technique base prior to engaging in the more intense training in the latter four weeks of the program. In this part of the program, you will be training four days a week. The program is divided into two lower-body days and two upper-body days, complete with weights, plyos and medicine ball work.

RELATED: How to Improve Your Vertical Jump Without Jumping

Below is how each workout in the first four weeks should be organized. For each exercise, we show sets x repetitions x the percentage of maximum. When a percentage of maximum is not shown, you should pick a weight that barely allows you to get that number of repetitions. Note that the sets, repetitions and weights shown are for the first week of training.

Day 1

Strength

Plyos

Day 2

Strength

Medicine Ball Exercises

Day 3

Off

Day 4

Strength

Plyos

  • Counter-movement jumps, stick landing: 10x
  • Split cycle jumps: 10x each leg

Day 5

Strength

Medicine Ball Exercises

As the program progresses, the sets, repetitions, and intensities change to what is shown below. Note that plyos are not in the table as their volume should remain constant throughout this part of the program:

Exercise Type Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
Pulls 3×3-6@70% 3×3-6@75% 3×3-6@80% 3×3-6@70%
Squats 3×8-12@70% 3×8-12@75% 3×8-12@80% 3×12-15@70%
Lunges/Step Ups 3×8-12 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×12-15
Hip extensions 3×8-12 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×12-15
Presses 3×8-12@70% 3×8-12@75% 3×8-12@80% 3×12-15@70%
Rows 3×8-12 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×12-15
Shoulder presses 3×8-12 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×12-15

Weeks Five through Eight

This is the more intense phase of the training program. This program takes advantage of complex training—i.e., the combination of strength exercises with power exercises. The idea is that the strength exercise maximally recruits the nervous system and then the power exercise takes advantage of that recruitment. The strength training intensities get pretty high during this phase. The first week is listed below.

Day 1

  • Deadlift + Clean Pull: 3×4-8+2-3@80% of Power Clean
  • Back Squats + Squat Jumps: 3×4-8@80%+10 Jumps
  • Lunges + Split cycle jumps: 3×4-8+5 Jumps each leg
  • Romanian Deadlifts: 3×6-10
  • Reverse hyperextensions: 3×6-10

Day 2

  • Bench Press + Medicine Ball Chest Pass: 3×4-8@80% + 10 throws
  • Bent-Over Rows + Medicine Ball Backwards Toss: 3×4-8 + 10 throws
  • Standing Military Press + Medicine Ball Front Toss: 3×4-8 + 10 throws

Day 3

Off

Day 4

  • Snatch-Grip Deadlifts + Snatch Pulls: 3×4-8 + 3-6@80% of Power Snatch
  • Split Squats + Split Jumps: 3×4-8@40% of Back Squat + 5 Jumps, each leg
  • Step-Ups + Box Jumps (to a height): 3×4-8 each leg + 10 Jumps
  • Good Mornings: 3×6-10
  • Single-Leg RDL: 3×6-10 each leg

Day 5

  • Incline Press + Lying Medicine Ball Chest Pass: 3×4-8@80% + 10 throws
  • Single-Arm Dumbbell Rows + Medicine Ball Side Toss: 3×4-8 + 5 throws each arm/side
  • Standing Kettlebell Press: 3×4-8 each arm

The intensities, sets, and repetitions shown were for week one. As the program progresses, they change as shown in the table below. Note that plyos are not included in this table as the volume remains constant for throughout the program:

Exercise Type Week One Week Two Week Three Week Four
Deadlifts + Pulls 3×4-8+2-3@80% 3×3-6+2-3@85% 3×2-4+2-3@90% 3×6-10+3-6@70%
Back Squats 3×4-8@80% 3×3-6@85% 3×2-4@90% 3×6-10@70%
Split squats 3×4-8@40% 3×3-6@45% 3×2-4@50% 3×6-10@30%
Lunges/Step Ups 3×4-8 3×3-6 3×2-4 3×6-10
Hip extensions 3×6-10 3×4-8 3×3-6 3×12-15
Presses 3×4-8@80% 3×3-6@85% 3×2-4@90% 3×6-10@70%
Rows 3×4-8 3×3-6 3×2-4 3×6-10
Shoulder presses 3×4-8 3×3-6 3×2-4 3×6-10

 

RELATED:

4 Proven Strategies to Increase Your Vertical Jump for Basketball

How to Dunk a Basketball

Drills For Perfecting Your Jump Shot

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Article was written by John Cissik – A contributing expert to STACK.com

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