If you’re looking to improve your vertical jump, you have a lot to incorporate into your training routine. There is a wide range of techniques and components that must be included if you want to maximize results, and workout in the most efficient way possible.
Strength, balance, force, flexibility and power are just the training considerations that must be made.
Here, we’ll look at how you can train to increase your power and explosiveness.
Why Train Power And Explosiveness
The first step is understanding what power and explosiveness means in the training world.
Power is defined as the rate of travel over time. Explosiveness is just a component of that- how fast can your body react when you realize its time to jump on the court to snatch a rebound out of the air?
Notice how there are a few milliseconds of delay from the time you watch the play and are able to get into the air? Improving your height with the component of speed will be essential in getting to that ball first.
Reacting fast is just the half of it. The next part of power is being able to reach your max height as fast as possible. That is, the time it takes for your feet to leave the ground and then plateau, should be as short as possible.
Have you noticed when watching an NBA player jump they seem to just bounce up with no effort at all? By training for power you’ll be improving the very same skill.
The Science Behind It
The human body is made up of bones, fat, water and protein tissue. Muscle is made up of protein tissues, and are responsible for getting your around; pretty common knowledge.
But did you know that there are several types of muscle tissue fibers which are all responsible for a different type of contraction?
Type 1 muscle fibers have a different energy production capacity and a different speed of contraction than Type 2a and 2b. These are called ‘slow twitch muscle fibers’ and are the type used in the long term, especially for slow contractions, walking, jogging, etc.
Type 2a and type 2b are also known as ‘fast twitch muscle fibers’, and type 2b is responsible for the fastest, most powerful contractions you demand of your body. These are the ones elicited when you engage in an all out vertical jump.
It is imperative that when training to improve your vertical jump that you elicit these very muscle fibers in order to improve performance.
Here is where it all comes together. You are all set to improve your power and explosiveness, and that means, training your fast twitch muscle fibers to contract every more powerfully and with greater strength.
Two very different training styles which are also the most popular can be used to do just this.
Plyometric training is a style that uses the whole body in an engaging dynamic movement.
To get an idea of what this means, contrast using a leg press to strengthen the quads to a one-legged lateral jump. Though the same muscles are contacting, the one-legged lateral jump will be many times more effected, even without loading any extra weight.
Plyometrics are fun and challenging, they engage the whole body, and in this sense, mimics playing the sport itself. Equipment is minimal, usually requiring just a few objects to do a lot of exercises.
Plyometrics also use the whole body, so rather than isolating a single muscle for a contraction and a single joint during the movement, you’ll be using your whole body together.
You’ll be engaging the right muscles and muscle fibers that would be involved in an actual jump, all getting trained at the same time.
The abs, muscles of the back, shoulders, butt, legs and all of their associated joints will be learning and adapting at the same time to improve power.
Olympic weightlifting is often left out by untrained individuals.
On the other hand, almost all professional athletes, with the exception of distance runners, use the Olympic lifts to improve power and explosiveness. Any sport requiring short bursts of energy can benefit from weightlifting.
This training is made up of two basic lifts and their variations.
The first is the Snatch; in this movement, the athlete must pull the barbell from the floor in a single movement to overhead. The power and speed needed to complete this movement is unbelievable!
The second lift is called a Clean & Jerk. In this lift, the movement is broken into 2 parts, the Clean is from the floor to the shoulders, and the Jerk is boosting it over head. Can you imagine that 120lb athletes are able to lift twice their body weight overhead?
Training in Olympic lifting as a part of your power and explosiveness will really take you the distance. Weightlifting elicits exactly the right muscles that you’ll need in basketball- the lower body especially.
On the down side, it is difficult to learn the techniques of the lifts, which is important to avoid injury.
Tying It All Together
To improve your vertical jump, you’ll need to improve your power and explosiveness. This corresponds to a particular type of muscle fibers known as ‘fast twitch’.
Eliciting this kind of adaptation means training in plyometrics and in Olympic weightlifting. Remember to train hard, but safely, and you’ll be well on your way to improving your vertical jump!
For more ideas and explanations on how to train, you can also check out the Jump Manual.
It explains more about Olympic lifting and plyometrics and how you can cycle the right sessions between intensity and volume to get a higher vertical in the most effective way.