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Increasing speed and lift

By Amy Breviano

The nature versus nurture debate when it comes to speed and leaping ability can finally be settled. You can get both from your parents and from a dedicated training routine.

Shuttle runs, wind sprints, and tire runs can help with speed but what about with vertical leap? Indeed there are many different ways to increase one's vertical jump, with much controversy on which method is the most effective. A more scientific breakdown of vertical jump is required to comprehend methods to improve performance.

Vertical jump is a measure of how far off the ground one can elevate one's own bodyweight. To do this, an individual must produce power. To increase power (and consequently vertical jump), an athlete must train to improve both strength and speed.

Strength can be increased using traditional strength training, with emphasis on the posterior chain (or "p-chain") which consists of the hamstrings, calves, lower back and glute muscles. Studies have shown that the majority of force generated during a vertical jump is generated by these muscles, and most importantly the quadriceps which are not part of the p-chain but rather the anterior chain.

Therefore, arguably the two most important max strength lifts for improving vertical jump are the full back squat and the dead-lift.

Speed in the vertical jump is a measure of how fast one can exert force. In the vertical jump, there is a very short time period in which force can be generated to use in a vertical jump(0.2s). Hence, it is very important for an athlete to be able to exert the maximum force possible in the shortest amount of time. Speed training reduces the "time" portion of the power equation, resulting in more overall power.


Strength can be increased using traditional strength training.

Speed training consist of two elements: Plyometric exercises (exercises which allow you to absorb the more energy during the countermovement, or eccentric contraction, of an explosive movement such as jumping or sprinting) and explosive training such as jump squats or power cleans.

An important fact to note is that plyometric and explosive exercises are not necessary until an athlete has built up a fairly strong strength base (commonly set between 1.5 and 2 times an athlete's bodyweight in the full squat and deadlift exercises). The reason for this is that even if the time portion of the power equation is reduced significantly, the overall power will still be a lower number if the force portion of the equation is neglected.

Flexibility of the Achilles Tendon has also been known to increase the vertical jump of an athlete. Caution must be used, though, since tearing of the tendon can occur.

Exercises include:

* Toe curls
* Box squats with resistance bands
* Static hip flexor stretching
* 50 rep "rhythm" squats
* Snatch Grip Deadlifts
* Depth Jumps
* Reverse Hyperextensions
* Dumbell Swings
* Bulgarian Split Squats
* “Pogo Jump” Warm-up
* Trap Bar Deadlifts, off a 4” box
* Standing Backward Medicine Ball Throw
* Power Clean/Power Snatch
* Weighted Ab Work
* Push Jerks
* Vertical Jumps



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