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Improve Your Vertical Jump

My name is Graham Wilkerson and I am the owner of Genesis Sports Performance. I have been training youth to professional athletes for the past 9 years and during that time I have become obsessed with improving athlete’s vertical jumps.

The vertical jump is an indicator of power and power is one of the most valued athletic qualities and for good reason, powerful athletes can produce force in less time. This leads to faster running, harder hitting, further throwing, and higher jumping.

Here at Genesis we are known for creating explosive athletes and I want to give you our best training secrets for improving the vertical jump.

Disclaimer: Not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone. Check with your doctor before beginning any fitness program to avoid/reduce the risk of injury. Perform these exercises at your own risk. Premier Performance will not be responsible or liable for any injury sustained as a result of using any fitness program presented in this document.

No portion of this manual may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including fax, photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system by anyone but the purchaser for their own personal use. This manual may not be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of Genesis Sports Performance.

First let’s get into the factors which influence vertical jump ability.

1. Coordination and timing between hip and knee extension

2. Maximum Strength

3. Explosive Strength

4. Reactive Strength

Coordination involves ensuring an athlete has proper motor and muscle recruitment patterns. The best tool to improve recruitment patterns is yielding isometrics. Yielding isometrics involve having an athlete hold a static position for a predetermined amount of time.

1. For improving the vertical jump, we prefer deep lunge isometric holds and wall squats. A good place to begin is having the athlete holds for 3 sets of 30s each leg gradually building up to 2:00.

2. The ability to produce large amounts of force is vital to vertical jump performance. Furthermore, athletes must be able to express that force quickly for it to translate to vertical jumping. If an athlete has not trained the ability to develop high amounts of force at low speeds, characterized by heavy strength training, then there is certainly no way that they will be able to express force at high speed. The amount of power they can produce will be limited as they do not have the ability to create force. Force precedes velocity! This is why youth athlete need to focus on developing strength before power.

Squatting and Deadlifting are 2 exercises we utilize to develop strength that translates to jumping performance. We generally will perform these exercises between 75 and 90% or an athletes 1 repetition max gradually progressing as they advance.

3. Explosive strength is the ability to rapidly accelerate from a dead stop. Think about a basketball player that needs to jump for a rebound or a tip off. In order to train explosive strength, we utilize resisted jumping exercises. We want these resisted jumping exercises to be performed with maximum intent with high quality rest in between sets. We typically stay between 20-40 jumps per session.

4. Reactive strength improves the athlete’s ability to apply force at the highest velocities. We utilize plyometric training to enhance this quality and create explosive athletes. Reactive strength is training utilizing traditional plyometrics characterized by rapid eccentric pre-stretch phase, followed by an amortization or coupling phase before the muscle shortens or rebounds in the concentric phase. The amortization phase needs to be less than 0.15 seconds to be classified as a true plyometric, so athletes should be instructed to immediately rebound upon contact.

Now that we understand how to improve the vertical jump I wanted to provide you with a sample 3-week training program to improve your jump performance. This program is 2 days a week and should be performed 48-72 hours apart. If you would like to add 2 upper body days into the program this is how I would structure it into a weekly schedule.


Tuesday: Lower (Squat, Resisted Jumps)

Wednesday: OFF

Thursday: Upper

Friday: Lower (Deadlift, Plyometrics)

Week 1:

Day 1:

A. DB Jumps with 15lbs each hand – 4x5 - 3:00 rest between sets.

B. Back Squat 5x3@ 75% - 2:00 rest between sets

C. Bulgarian Split Squat 3x8 – 1:00-2:00 rest between sets

D. Glute Ham Raises 4x5- 1:00-2:00 rest between sets

E. Copenhagen Plank 2x30s

F. Deep Lunge Isometric Hold 3x30s

Day 2:

A. Depth Jump 4x5 – 3:00 rest between sets

B. Trap Bar Deadlift 5x3@75% - 2:00 rest between sets

C. Reverse Lunges 3x8- 1:00-2:00 rest between sets

D. 45-degree back extension 3x15

E. Hanging Leg Raise 3x10

F. Wall Squat 3x30s

Week 2:

Day 1:

G. DB Jumps with 20lbs each hand – 5x5 - 3:00 rest between sets.

H. Back Squat 4x3@ 80% - 2:00 rest between sets

I. Bulgarian Split Squat 3x6 – 1:00-2:00 rest between sets, increase weight from last week

J. Glute Ham Raises 4x6- 1:00-2:00 rest between sets,

K. Copenhagen Plank 2x45s

L. Deep Lunge Isometric Hold 3x45s

Day 2:

G. Depth Jump 5x5 – 3:00 rest between sets

H. Trap Bar Deadlift 4x3@80% - 2:00 rest between sets

I. Reverse Lunges 3x6- 1:00-2:00 rest between set, increase weight from last week

J. 45-degree back extension 3x12, add weight from last week

K. Hanging Leg Raise 3x12

L. Wall Squat 3x45s

Week 3:

Day 1:

M. DB Jumps with 25lbs each hand – 6x5 - 3:00 rest between sets.

N. Back Squat 3x3@ 85% - 2:00 rest between sets

O. Bulgarian Split Squat 3x5 – 1:00-2:00 rest between sets, increase weight from last week

P. Glute Ham Raises 4x7- 1:00-2:00 rest between sets,

Q. Copenhagen Plank 2x60s

R. Deep Lunge Isometric Hold 3x60s

Day 2:

M. Depth Jump 6x5 – 3:00 rest between sets

N. Trap Bar Deadlift 3x3@85% - 2:00 rest between sets

O. Reverse Lunges 3x5- 1:00-2:00 rest between set, increase weight from last week

P. 45-degree back extension 3x10, add weight from last week

Q. Hanging Leg Raise 3x15

R. Wall Squat 3x60s

- Graham

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