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A Foundation of Fitness Vol. 3 - The Human Pogo Stick
The Human Pogo Stick
Training to Increase Your Vertical Leap!
Want to jump higher? Have aspirations of Lebron-like leaping abilities? Then listen up, because I’m about to share with you the secret to being able to take flight!
Jumping Higher, Made Simple
How to jump higher is a simple process once you understand a few basic concepts. The most fundamental one is called the SAID principle. SAID stands for “Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands.” This means that the body will adapt specifically to the stimulus that you impose on it. That means that if you regularly lift heavy weights, and progressively get stronger over time, you will get better at lifting heavy weights slowly. On the other hand, if you regularly bounce around doing various sprinting and jumping activities (think of a street-baller who has been playing basketball their whole live and can dunk even though they are 5’8’’) you will get better at sprinting and jumping! Duh!
The SAID principle, illustrates why the old saying; “If ya’ don’t USE it, you will LOSE it!” is so true. If your goal happens to be to jump higher, then if you are not training your legs to produce more force, more rapidly on a continual and ongoing basis, then your body won’t adapt to be more explosive and thus jump higher.
To Jump Higher, You Have to Get More Powerful
Power = Strength x Speed
This definition clues us in to what we need to be training if we want to jump through the roof. How do we develop strength? How do we develop speed? How do we ensure we are working the right muscles to develop force in the right direction (vertical force production?) Essentially, anytime we are moving a load in the vertical direction, either slowly, with heavy weights, or quickly (our own body in a vertical jump), we are training our body to become more efficient in that movement pattern.
In real world terms, this means we have to build our strength with exercises such as the olympic lifts (cleans, snatches,etc), squats, deadlifts, lunge variations, all with increasing weight over time, as well as our speed of vertical force reduction (hip, knee and ankle bending as you prepare to jump), as well as production (the extension of all of these joints as you push the ground away and take flight.) Depending on whether you are a “springy” athlete, or a strong athlete, you will want to work a little more on the other quality (strength or speed), depending on your weakness.)
Simply stated, you need to jump (plyometrics) and lift weights, and slowly get better at each over time.
What this might look like in an actual workout is detailed below:
Exercise 1: Single Leg box jump 2x5 per leg, Altitude Landings 3x5, Vertical Leap 3x5
Exercise 2: Hang Clean 4x3
Exercise 3: Front Squat 3x6
Exercise: 4: Walking Lunge 2x8
Exercise 5: Calf Raise - 3x10 (notice calf work is a minimal part of the program. The calves only contribute maybe 10% to a vertical leap.)
Of course, this routine is assuming you have some training background and technical proficiency on all exercises (which is unfortunately not a good assumption in 90% of cases.) Most people have never been taught how to properly jump and land, perform the olympic lifts or even squat and lunge with good technique, which is why part of me cringes when I give generic recommendations for workout plans without first evaluating the athlete.
If you have any doubts about performing any of the above activities, seek a professional’s help. It will be the best investment you ever make in terms of seeing the progress you desire, and preventing injuries that can set you back weeks as well as predispose you to numerous other injuries.
When you find that you’ve increased your strength, and gotten your plyometrics faster, you will find yourself well on your way to being that freak who seems to have pogo sticks for legs. Of course, there are many other aspects to jumping high and being a great athlete (coordination, body composition, etc), but I hope this article gives you an overview of the basic ingredients required to jump higher.