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 tendons of skeletal muscle.
When tension is placed on your muscles or tendons from actions like lifting weights or landing a jump, the GTO sends signals to inhibit the muscle from exerting too much force as a safety mechanism. This 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.
The Depth Drop to Box Jump is the most effective jump training you can perform due to the way it inhibits the GTO with the deficit drop landing. This exercise also effectively trains all three major types of muscle contractions (eccentric, isometric and concentric). Training all three phases will enhance intramuscular coordination, allowing you to jump higher and get off the ground faster.
How to Perform the Depth Drop to Box Jump
The Step-off and Landing: Reach out with one foot with your toes pointing up. This is called dorsiflexion. 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. Watch the video and 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.
The 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.
The Takeoff: This is the part of the drill everyone emphasizes. However, if the landing and transition are not executed properly, the opportunity for an explosive takeoff will be greatly minimized. To decrease your takeoff 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 takeoff), you will notice more pop off the ground and increase your vertical jump height.
How can you integrate this exercise into your program?
After doing a proper warm-up, you can include the Depth Drop to Box Jump exercise before your strength training routine, or superset it with a compound lower-body exercise like Squats. When doing plyometrics drills, you want to focus on quality, not quantity. Keep the reps low and gradually increase the volume by adding more sets as your training progresses. Here’s a suggested progression for your sets and reps:
- Week 1-2: 2×5
- Week 3-4: 3×4
- Week 5-6: 4×4