How to Jump HigherNov 19, 2020
It's a sunny Saturday morning and I'm at the local playground with my seven-year-old son, George, and his nine-year-old sister, Giavanna.
So far it's been a busy day of bike rides and seeing who can swing the highest on the swing set.
"Dad, see if you can catch me!" shouts George.
Just for fun, I take the bait and run after him. He races up the slide, across a bridge, and down this mini rock wall.
So far I'm keeping up pretty good. Right on his tail actually.
But then he races across the grassy field and, in one motion, jumps up-and-over this park bench.
Hmmm, I thought.
I'm not really warmed up and I'm almost 50 years. Should I follow him and mimic his cat-like reflexes?
So I jumped.
A tall vertical leap is one of the best predictors of athleticism and raw power.
That's why smart coaches test the vertical jumping ability of nearly all athletes, regardless of what sport.
Now my online personal training clients tend to be men and women, over 40 years, versus professional athletes; however, we routinely work on jumping.
Why, you ask?
Because if you want to maintain your ability to jump, you must practice jumping. You must also do strength training if you want to minimize injury and properly absorb the landing.
It's no secret that the combination of heavy lifting and explosive movements add inches to your ups, so here are four less common tips to help you rise above the crowd.
How to Jump Higher
By Joseph Arangio, MS, CSCS
Originally appeared in Men's Journal
Before you begin, test your vertical. Grab a piece of chalk, stand against a wall, and extend your arm. Mark your reach.
Next, jump as high as you can and make another mark. Measure the distance between chalk marks to figure out your vertical jump.
Repeat the test monthly to track your progress.
Tip 1: Increase Strength With Resistance Bands
Challenging the eccentric (negative) part of a lift is an overlooked strategy to boost your jump (and your strength).
Unlike dumbbells or barbells, a resistance band provides constant tension throughout an exercise. As you stretch the band, you boost the intensity of the move and challenge your muscles more.
As the band shortens, you work overtime to absorb force and decelerate under control.
👉 Do This: Resistance Band Squat to Shoulder Press
With your feet shoulder-width apart, step both feet onto the bottom of the resistance band loop.
Stand tall, and with the band in both hands, stretch the other end to your chin, holding just outside your shoulders like you're ready to do a front squat or thruster.
Brace your core and quickly lower your body into a half-squat by driving your hips back and bending your knees.
Stand up and then forcefully extend your hips to push the band straight overhead. Pause, and then return to the start.
Tip 2: Use Cluster Sets
Improve power with short bursts at maximum effort. That means fewer repetitions at a higher intensity.
Instead of doing three sets of five, for example, do five sets of three with a 10- to 30-second rest between each rep.
This rest-pause technique uses a short break between reps to help replenish some of your cells' energy stores, so you can do more work at nearly the same intensity.
👉 Do This: Standing Vertical Jump
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stand tall and reach your arms up overhead.
As fast as possible, dip your knees, drive your hips back into a quarter-squat, and throw your arms down slightly behind your hips.
Jump forcefully, thrusting your arms overhead with palms inward to boost momentum. Land on the balls of your feet first, followed by your heels.
Tip 3: Squat Down Faster
Because a stretched muscle contracts faster, you can jump higher simply by speeding up your descent.
As you quickly drop into a quarter-squat position, energy generated from the downward motion is transferred to an explosive upward lift, thereby increasing your jump.
👉 Do this: Low Rebounding Box Jump
Stand in front of a sturdy knee-high box. Place your feet shoulder-width apart.
Drive your hips back and bend your knees into a quarter-squat position. Jump up onto the box, thrusting your arms overhead with palms inward to boost momentum. Land softly, pause, and immediately hop backwards off the box to begin the next jump.
Make sure to land on the balls of your feet first, and then your heels.
Tip 4: Stretch Your Hip Flexors
It takes strong and powerful hip extensors (think glutes) to jump high.
The opposing hip flexors, located at the top of your thighs, apply the brakes at the peak of a jump, as a safety precaution, so you don't tear a muscle.
Trouble is, this protective mechanism may hinder your maximum jump.
But stretching the tight muscles on the front of your hips may temporarily boost your vertical jump, according to a 2015 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
How? By fooling your nervous system into turning off your hip flexors (reducing reciprocal inhibition), thereby allowing your glutes to contract more explosively.
👉 Do This: Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel on your left knee, with the top of your left foot on the floor and your right knee bent to 90 degrees. Reach overhead with your left hand and bend your torso slightly to the right.
Hold for 30 seconds and perform three times on each side.
Remember when I said that I jumped over the park bench at the neighborhood playground?
My mind wasn't sure this was a good idea. But my body was accustomed to jumping, mainly because my training plan cycles through power, strength, hypertrophy (more muscle), and endurance.
If you are following a smart online training program, this kind of talk about cycling your training phases will sound familiar. For everybody else, you need a smart workout so you perform at your best.
More often than not, the limiting factor in your achievements and your successes isn’t an external obstacle, like the park bench.
It’s not a problem, competition or some other challenge.
It’s you. Actually it's in your thoughts.
So, remind yourself again and again... those external things can’t stop you.
Only you can stop you.
You can do anything, but you can't do everything.
It's a phrase I tell myself all the time. I fell into the trap of trying to do everything once. Okay, maybe more than once.
I tried to run a half-dozen projects, be a good dad, be a good husband, be a good friend, and be the best me.
And no matter how hard I tried, I always felt like it wasn't enough.
Like I could be doing better in every area if I could just give that area a little more attention.
See, it's tough to be present when you're trying to be present in 12 different places.
And while I think, by many measures, I might have been considered a success in any one of those areas, I was not headed in the right direction for me. In other words, I didn't want that kind of success.
Now I wasn't unhappy by any stretch. I've always been a pretty fortunate guy and have always been self-aware enough to know it.
But I also knew that time is a currency. You can't get a refund if you don't like how you spent your day. My goal was, and still is, to get more time back for what I was investing.
So the solution was simple: Quit trying to do everything.
It was almost like magic.
A few years ago when I started fresh, my new online personal trainer was better by virtually every measure than any other I'd launched in the past.
Talking about online personal training on Fox Business news in 2011
I was finishing more of the stuff I wanted to do, in less time.
As a result of simplifying what I did, the amount of time I was able to spend with my family increased.
What's the secret to gaining more focus, more clarity?
Stop trying to do everything and, instead, concentrate on doing fewer things well.
Think of it like flying in an airplane, from New York to Los Angeles, instead of riding on a unicycle while juggling tennis balls.
Not only is it a lot faster and more relaxing; but it's not nearly as much of a balancing act either.
And this approach applies on the smaller scale every bit as much as it does the big picture.
Doing one or two things really, really well in your training, nutrition, or accountability efforts is way more effective than doing a dozen things halfheartedly.
But I won't tell you this approach is easy.
You're conditioned to think you need to do more, more, more.
You don't want to give up those other long-shot opportunities - even if narrowing your focus on one will allow you to achieve more than you ever thought possible.
You have to be willing to say "no" more often than you likely have ever before if you want to get leaner, stronger, and happier.
If you want to slow aging and lead by example, you must say "no" to the things that are keeping you from being your best.
So get clear about what success really looks like to you (not what someone else tells you it is).
And if you're willing to create a simple plan to serve as the bridge from where you are today to that destination (and you're actually willing to follow the plan), you can have anything you want.
You just have to stop trying to have everything.
Are you willing to do that?
To your success,
Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online personal trainer, or you want to visit the best personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.