“When it comes to vertical jump training, they have trained athletes to some of the best improvement numbers possible. They help the best jumpers year after year.”
People often ask me, “How do you jump so high?” What’s funny about that question to me is that people never saw me develop from a young high jumper who could barely squat with 65 pounds on my back to a more than double bodyweight squatter. If you saw 13 year old Markus Milleer – all 100 pounds of him – you might think he moves alright but often looks like a deer on ice, with knees wider than my thigh and calf muscles. Did any of my coaches think I could touch 11+ feet in a vertical jump? Probably not. For sure, I didn’t think I would ever straight leg jump a 42” box. I definitely had a propensity to improve in high jump and my vertical, but mostly that was attributed to my mind more than my raw physical capabilities. How do people become successful in any named endeavor? I believe it comes down to patience, purposeful practice, failure or “trial and error”, and finally a work ethic that balances physicality and mentality.
If you want to jump higher, I highly recommend picking a time of year to dedicate solely to improving your physicality. A good jump program is limited in confounding variables produced by practicing or playing your sport. Identify when you play your sport the least. With that said, let’s look at a brief sample overview of how I improved my jumping ability… THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN.
Our vertical jump training works. Here’s an overview of how you can improve.
*Note: THIS IS NOT A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN. For the best results, seek a professional that is capable of tailoring a program specific to your strengths and weaknesses.
For our purposes we will address two aspects of strength, Max Effort Strength (ME) and Reactive Strength. Your back squat is a simple metric to use for ME. It should be close to, or above 1.5x bodyweight. Reactive Strength index (RSI) is a critical measurement we use at Elite Speed that breaks down several of the factors related to to jump performance. These include but are not limited to ground contact time, sport specific force application, and jump height.
Rules to what follows:
- Jump as high as you can on each jumping effort
- Make sure you rest between efforts and between days – do not tax the nervous system extra on off days
- If you don’t have adequate rest in order to jump the highest you can on that day, you aren’t getting the highest quality reps to improve vert.
- Try to limit sport practice or games
- Vary the stimulus every few weeks but have some consistency in progression week to week.
Monday: Max Effort Strength
- Ex: A1. Back Squat 6 x 2, 90% or more for low reps
- Ex: A2. Jump Squats (continuous as high as possible) 6 x 5
Wednesday: Strength-Endurance or Hypertrophy
- Ex: A1. Barbell Step-ups 4 x 10
- Ex: A2. Step-up Jump Switches 3 x 10 es
- Ex: A1. Trap Bar Jumps 3 x 3 – low weight, move fast/high
- Ex: A2. Hurdle hops to box jump 3 x 3 –
- Ex: A3. Sport specific application, approach jump, max vert touch, etc
Saturday: Strength – no jumping, build single leg strength in all planes
- Ex: A1. Bulgarian Split Squat 3 x 4 es
- Ex: A2. Lateral Lunges 3 x 6 es
An emphasis must be made on mobility rather than flexibility. Mobility is active range of motion though a given, plane, axis, and direction. Proper mobility training elicits muscle tissue to hold variable tension through any given ROM. The best jumpers hold incredible amounts tension in their muscles at the right period of time and at optimal joint angles. Great jumpers prep the body like a coiled spring upwards and downwards, releasing great amounts of energy in optimal sport specific directions.
No, we won’t actually help you sleep however, sleep is of paramount value to jump skill and ability. Many studies have shown reduced sleep can lead to a reduction in performance. Sleeping 6 or less hours per night has been shown to reduce nervous system efficiency, affect cognitive function, and decrease motivational output. Nervous system efficacy is critical for jump performance and determines systemic output. According to the Sleepfoundation.org, young athletes can benefit from up to 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Read more about Nervous System Overload Here.
Evaluation Of The Demands Of Your Particular Sport
At Elite, we train the strengths of each individual athlete while simultaneously shoring up their weaknesses in any jumping technique. In basketball and volleyball, max jump height won’t always be achieved. These sports are more about optimizing jumps whereas a sport like track and field is always about achieving maximal height or distance.
At Elite, we apply jumping in a wide variety of ways. We use unilateral & bilateral jump training as well as randomized, weighted, and overspeed executions. Jumping needs to be methodical and progressive. It doesn’t always need to be overcomplicated. Most athletes need to learn how to express force, absorb force and harness it. Jumpers need to learn how to land before they can progress to reactive or overspeed training. Everyone is different. Jumping will always be about quality over quantity. Quality allows quantity!
Markus Miller – CSCS USATF, NCAA D-1, High Jumper
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