Learning to jump higher isn't complicated. It can be as simple as its name implies. All you need is to take a sensible approach and avoid four common mistakes. (First learn What Makes a Good Plyometric Workout?)
Performing Plyometrics In-Season
Volleyball and basketball players are among the athletes who benefit most by improving their vertical leaping ability. Running and jumping constitute the majority of these athletes' movements, whether in practice or in games. So adding a high-volume jump program during the season or pre-season is a shortcut to injury. Avoid fatigued legs, overtraining or a reduction in your jump height by simply playing your sport when in-season.
Right the wrong: Complete the picture in-season with a training program that incorporates heavy strength training. This will complement the speed work provided by your opponents.
Thinking That More Is Better
Plyometric exercises are extremely taxing on the central nervous system (CNS). They require shorter sets, longer rest periods between sets and longer periods of recovery between sessions. Without increased recovery time, your body will quickly fatigue and regress. (A must read: Building a Safe Plyometric Progression.)
Right the wrong: Keep your plyometric sets short and your training volume moderate. Aim for no more than five repetitions per exercise. Generally, you should perform no more than 75 to 100 repetitions in a week. This will have the most impact on your vertical jump without overly taxing your legs and CNS.
Failing to Address Relative Strength
The most common misconception is the belief more jump-centered training will increase your vertical. To jump high, athletes must possess a high degree of relative strength. The goal is to jump maximally and apply your strength as fast as possible.
If an athlete is naturally gifted at jumping, imagine how much more he or she will gain by increasing relative strength or strength-to-weight ratio. This is crucial for overcoming the body's weight and gravity.
Right the wrong: To improve relative strength, learn how to apply force quickly into the ground. The best exercises to build muscle mass and increase vertical jumping power are compound movements focusing on the lower body. Reaching your full jumping potential requires equal strength in the quads, glutes and hamstrings.
Some of the best lifts:
Focusing on Heavy and Slow Strength Training
Getting stronger is key for jumping, but doing super-heavy and slow lifting isn't necessarily the ticket to an improved jump. A vertical jump happens in two-tenths of a second. You have to exert a lot of force and do it fast.
Heavy lifting performed slowly won't transfer well, even if it makes you stronger. Playing a plyometric-based sport regularly will help your strength transfer positively. Slow and heavy lifting, or bodybuilding-type lifting, is not as effective.
Right the wrong: You still need to train heavy but focus on bar speed. Move the barbell as fast as possible. The intent to move the weight is crucial. Even if the weight is heavy, pushing against it as hard and fast as possible will teach your body to increase the rate at which it develops force and translate to more making more force available in that two-tenths of a second jump window.
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