A vertical jump program that works for Division 1 athletes will probably work for you... especially if you want to learn how to dunk.
In my field, many will tell you there’s no greater display of power than the vertical jump, and they’re right. The ability to defy gravity pulling you back to earth is truly one of the greatest displays of power. And, let’s be honest, having some legit rise while posterizing anyone on the blacktop is just flat out cool.
Joking aside, bounce is something my guys take very seriously, and our jump program is just as serious. Below I’m going to reveal our exact progression for jump training, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t all we do for lower body training. If fact, it’s just a drop in the bucket.
If you’re not strong to begin with, you’re cutting your nose to spite your face. To get stronger you have to squat. So go back, check my how-to squat article, make sure you’re doing the right things there, and get stronger before you dive into this, since strength is what sets up the entire program.
This article is the first of four in a series; as I’m going to go through all three phases of our jump program, and in the final article, I’m going to break down exactly how we set it all up. That’s right, I’m GIVING YOU MY PROGRAM. I can’t believe I’m actually doing this, but well, here we go.
Phase 1: Establish the base, learn what it means to jump as high as possible.
Now that might sound stupid, but there’s one thing you’ve got to understand immediately. If you do not jump as HIGH AS POSSIBLE every time, there is ZERO carry over. Which means man up and jump as high as you can, no reps off, no half-ass bullshit. If you’re not going to max out on every rep just stop reading because you’re wasting your time. Get the point? Good. Now to the exercises in phase 1…
I learned these from Cal Dietz at the University of Minnesota. What we’re doing is prepping you to get down fast. The goal is to train the body to illicit the stretch reflex on the muscles that will actually propel you into the air. The video should answer any questions you have about the how’s and why’s of this movement, so watch it and note to start with 3 sets of 8 before moving onto the next exercise.
Loaded Squat Jumps with a reset at the top
Here you’re going to lower yourself into a squat as if you have a bar on your back… but you don’t. At depth (i.e. 90 degrees) you’ll want to jump up as high and as fast as possible, extending your ankles, knees and hips simultaneously. Upon landing, reset and start at the top. I call this a loaded jump because you start with your hands over your head and pull yourself down controlled to “load” yourself for the jump. Understanding how to find this position is crucial. Remembering that this is not a continuous movement is also key. Do 3 sets of 8 at maximal effort and you’ll be good to go.
We’ll use these as jumping preparation throughout the entire program. A classic CNS stimulating exercise first popularized by the Parisi Speed School, this exercise will stand the test of time. To perform quick pogo jumps correctly, stand completely upright with your hands up like you’re in a fight (if you don’t know what that’s like, watch some UFC clips).
From there, bounce up and down as fast as possible on the balls of your feet while driving your arms up and down like a jack hammer. The faster you can go the better off you’ll be. Not only does this turn your nervous system on, but it also trains you to get on and off the floor faster. Three sets of 30 and the first phase will be complete.
Your lower body strength work with these three jump training exercises is simple. Three days a week you’ll do 1 set of 20 for each of the following exercises: Back Squats, Good Mornings, Back Extensions, Seated Calf Raises and Single Leg Calf Raises. That’s it, 1 set, balls to the wall, 20 reps, as much weight as you can do. Try adding 5 pounds every time you walk in the gym, but whatever you do, don’t sacrifice technique for that extra 5 pounds.
And that’s Phase 1. Next we’ll address Phase 2 and start to raise the intensity some. Phase 3 is when we’ll ramp it up big time so be patient. You don’t want to lay a house on the ground and hope it doesn’t get blown over (just ask the little pigs how well that worked out). Build the proper foundation, and watch your vertical jump take off.
To maximize your gains using this vertical jump program 1R would recommend the following supplements: