The Truth About Strength Training For Higher Vertical Jumps

If you want to increase your vertical jump, get more height and power there are three core strength concepts you must understand. These three specific types of strength are known as explosive strength, reactive strength and limit strength. In this article I'll explain each of these strength types and help you avoid going round in circles searching for that elusive magic bullet promised to make you jump higher (and / or run faster). After reading this article, you will learn how you can train the right strength type in order to jump higher by using correct training program exercises or workouts. Your jump training drills must involve a number of the best vertical leap exercises combined and designed to help improve your vertical jumping ability and height by working on these three core strength concepts.

Now I'll break the training methods down into categories of limit strength exercises, explosive strength exercises and reactive strength exercises and show you the top exercises from each category that'll get you jumping higher and running faster.

Limit Strength – LS is basically the maximum amount of force you can apply period, within any time / speed consideration. It is important to develop limit strength in the muscles of the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and lower back since these are the most critical muscle groups for sprinting and jumping. It may be said that these are the "leap higher and run quicker" muscles. The glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles often need extra attention as typically they are the source of weakness in most athletes.

Explosive Strength – ES Describes the ability to achieve maximum force in the shortest time period, without the use of the plyometric stretch-reflex. For instance jumping from a static position mostly requires pure explosive strength since you do not have the opportunity to build up and use plyometric ability from a run up. Explosive strength relations on a capacity "switch on" max force in the first few fractions of a second.

Reactive strength – RS occurs when your muscle / tendon complex is stretched before contracting and is often referred to as plyometric strength, reversal strength, reflexive strength, rebound strength etc. This is obvious when you bend knies prior to jumping upwards. If you think about it, you can leap higher like that, than when you stop and try jumping from a standstill can not you? The reason for this is that the bending countermovement rapidly stretches the tendons through your lower body which in turn means the muscles and tendons gather energy and create recoil, much like a rubber band for example. This reflexive / reactive response is very quick, whereas a voluntary response to muscle stretch would be too slow. Reactive capacity increases the force generated in the first .10 seconds of a movement by anything from 200-700%!

You must appreciate that the stretching reflex responses to the speed at which your muscle / tendon complex is stretched prior to a movement such as jumping. For instance try to bend down really slowly prior to jumping and you'll see what I'm describing. The quicker and greater the stretch the more corresponding and responsive force is generated.

This is why if you watch exceptional jumpers they descend quickly and sharply during their countermovement. Using this skill, they create greater force in one direction, which may then be converted into force in the other (jumping) direction as they explode up with a powerful leap. In a nutshell, if you develop good reactive ability, the greater force you absorb in the countermovement, the more force you can put out for jumping high. In contrast, people with poor jumping ability have difficulty generating responsive force through their hips and quads and as a consequence, they do not perform the countermovement with enough zip, efficiency and efficiency. Good news is this can be significantly improved through correct jump training.

As a general rule I would say that attention should be paid to developing limit strength in the muscles of the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and calves, as these are the most important muscle groups for sprinting and jumping.

It stands to reason that if you want to develop maximum force in fraction of a second, you need to have enough raw force or strength to draw from or to tap into quickly. Basically, it means that limit strength serves as the foundation for explosive strength. For instance, a ship with a little Honda mower engine is not going anywhere fast!

Similarly, an athlete who can only apply a low amount of force is not going to be jumping very high at all, no matter how fast the force is applied.

You must train the proper muscles in order to really get your vertical to take off.

So, to sum up, the power in the vertical jump (and sprint) comes from a good combination of explosive strength and reactive strength – with limit strength serving as the foundation for them both.