Basic Jump Programming
No matter the sport you compete in, all athletes can benefit from increased strength and speed. For many, figuring out the strength part is relatively easy. You need to implement barbell resistance training and perform basic movements.
We accomplish this in two ways; max effort barbell training, designed to improve absolute strength, and dynamic effort barbell training, designed to increase the rate of force development.
Where many coaches become confused is when it comes to improving speed. Athletes must perform jumps every week to increase power production most efficiently. For this training to be successful, an athlete must follow a training regimen that fits their ability level.
As with most training methods, jump training needs to be executed at a level that allows the athlete to get the most benefit with the least risk. This means that the jump exercise must match the athlete's skill level, and the amount of jump training volume needs to match the athlete's conditioning level. Once again, similar to barbell training, a smartly paced approach yields the most significant gains.
At Westside, we follow two plans when programming jumps for athletes. Here is how we do it:
Beginner / Intermediate Level
Before I begin speaking on programming, it is important to consider what beginner and intermediate levels mean in this context. An athlete may walk into the gym and qualify as an advanced-level jump athlete right off of the bat. If an athlete walks in with a 40-inch vertical, it makes no sense to put them through a beginner or intermediate training plan if they can manage what would be considered advanced level with no problem on their first day.
Conversely, just because an athlete possesses great barbell strength does not mean they qualify for an advanced-level jump program. It is vital that a coach correctly evaluates an athlete and prescribes the proper approach.
For beginner and intermediate level jumpers, we will employ basic box jumps. When programming, two factors play a role; box height and workout volume. As far as box height goes, you will always set the box at the highest point you can jump to while completing all sets and reps safely. This rule goes for all athletes, regardless of ability level.
Volume is where the approach for beginners and intermediates will differ from an advanced program. The goal for all athletes is to reach the point where they can perform 40 jumps per workout without failure. To move towards this, we cut the volume in half and program according to the athlete's fitness level.
If an athlete is in proper condition, we will typically have them perform two sets of ten jumps per set immediately after the main exercise on either lower body training day. If an athlete lacks the fitness to perform ten jumps each set, we will program four sets of five reps.
Once an athlete displays the skill and conditioning necessary to complete 2 x 10 jump workouts with no issues regularly, we will move them onto a more rigorous level of training. The exercises included will be box jumps and seated box jumps. Highly advanced level athletes can choose to perform depth jumps. However, depth jumps present a risk of injury and incur more damage than the formerly mentioned jump exercises. For that reason, we do not regularly use depth jumps.
An advanced-level program doubles the volume from 2 x 10 or 4 x 5 to 4 x 10. As mentioned in the paragraph above, these can be basic or seated box jumps. A good way to program can be changing up the style of jump every other week or running three-week waves of each jump.
As an advanced level athlete improves, you do not always have to increase the height of the jump. You can introduce weighted vest jumps or jump while holding dumbbells or kettlebells. No matter which exercises you choose, ensure your skill and conditioning level matches the difficulty of the exercise you perform.
To become the best athlete you can be, you must do more than get stronger. Improving your speed will unlock the next level of performance and will allow you to properly display the on-field capabilities you have gained from strength training. Sometimes the answer is simple; if you want to be athletic, you need to move like an athlete.
Becoming explosive makes you dangerous, no matter the sport. If you are on the football field, an explosive player will hit you so hard that your teeth will be loose. On the baseball field, an explosive player will hit the ball further and throw the ball with greater velocity. Even a golfer can benefit, with increased power adding distance to their game.
For more information regarding how we train athletes, check out the WSBB Blog. For sport-specific Conjugate Method programs, check out the Conjugate Club.
Simmons, L. (2007). Westside Barbell Book of Methods. Westside Barbell.
Verkhoshansky, Y., & Siff, M. C. (2009). Supertraining. Verkhoshansky.
Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Kraemer, W. J. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training. Human Kinetics.