Building Jumping Power

Building Jumping Power

            Jumping is synonymous with all sports track and field as well as all sports played with a ball. Jumping also can play a large role in powerlifting and especially Olympic lifting, mostly for the jerk phase. Jumping is about explosive power, but what is explosive power? According to the definition by Tidow (1990), explosive power, or strength, is the ability to rapidly increase force—the steeper the increase of strength in time, the greater the explosive strength.

Train All Three Strengths Simultaneously

            Explosive strength is trained at fast velocity, but to fully exploit explosive strength, the other two velocities must be simultaneously trained with jumping while explosive strength is trained with the barbell at mostly 30 to 40 percent in three-week waves. Speed strength is trained most efficiently at 75 to 85 percent in three-week waves repeated throughout the year. It is trained at intermediate velocity.

            To develop strength speed or slow strength, one must lift the maximal weight possible on Max-Effort (M-E) day meaning completing an all-time record mostly on a special large barbell exercise. It is trained at slow velocity. This method of max effort is implemented by the Russians and Westside Barbell. The Bulgarian method calls for measuring a day-by-day max.

So how do you build jumping power?

            For weight training there must be two training days for the lower and upper body. One for maximal strength and one for speed strength.

What is the max effort and why do you need it?

            M-E is lifting a maximal load against maximal resistance. It is superior for improving both intramuscular and inter-muscular coordination. Your muscle and your central nervous system (CNS) adapt only to the loads placed on them. M-E workouts use movements from the list below or some combination. Work up to a one rep:

  • Rack pulls
  • Box pulls
  • Power clean
  • Power snatch
  • Push jerk
  • Press
  • Bench press
  • Rack squat
  • Front squat
  • Belt squat
  • Incline
  • Decline
  • Floor press

             Perform some M-E workouts with or without accommodating resistance. As weights grow larger they slow down. This is due to the relationship between force and velocity. Lift only heavy weights and you slow down.

To counteract the second workout for speed strength, it must be trained 72 hours later. While M-E calls for working up to a one rep max causing the barbell volume to be low, the speed strength day calls for 18 lifts for pulls, and 18 lifts and presses for squats in the 70 percent range. At 80 percent, you’ll need to do 15 lifts for pulls, squats or presses; two to five reps per set.


            According to A. S. Prilepin’s data (1974), the speed strength training is used for building a fast rate of development. Lifting only maximal weights in slow velocity does not ensure increasing your rate of force development. This means both must be trained in the same weekly plan. For more on periodization read Special Strength Development for All Sports by Louie Simmons (2015). Always use the largest barbell exercises and work down to small special exercises and on to bands or cables.

Building Jumping Power

            Now, to build jumping power, there must be two methods of jumping. The first is jumping up with resistance of many types. The second is a shock method depth jumping where one drops from a predetermined height.

            Before we start jumping onto or off of boxes, let’s do basic general exercises such as kneeling jumps for hip development. First, do seated-on-floor pressing and curling to condition the body for kneeling jumps. Then, jump off knees onto feet. Now start with a barbell across your shoulders. Next are kneeling cleans, kneeling snatches with feet square, then split snatches.

            Pick one for a warmup for box or depth jumps. Use any order you wish. Westside’s record with bar-on-back to feet is 310 pounds. Do only 20 kneeling jumps for warmup next.

Box Jumps with Resistance

            Use ankle weights of five to 20 pounds, a weight vest from 20 to 100 pounds, Kettlebells from four kilograms to 32 kilograms or any combination you like—for example, ankle weights plus Kettlebells. Do 40 jumps two times a week. Establish a record, and then check for new records about every three or four weeks. Keep accurate records for every combination. There will be a lot to monitor.

                    There are several methods to approach the box. One is to sit on a lower box—like a box squat—and then jump up to a second higher box. Jumping with body weight can cause a faster increase of strength in time producing a greater amount of explosive strength. To jump you must possess the correct body type, strength, speed and application of elasticity of the muscles that take part in the take off. Much more information can be found in Explosive Power and Jumping Ability by Tadeusz Starzynski (1999).

            Before going on, you must know that general jumping has no ill effect on timing, coordination, or technique. All so, to build general jumping ability, jump down then back up to same height boxes.

Depth Jumps Shock Training

            For building eccentric actions, jump from a high box down and up to a lower box. For building concentric actions, drop off a short box and jump onto a higher box. For all depth jumps, the amortization phase must be as short as possible. The depth jump is the last phase of jumping. Depth jumps are used for explosive strength and reactive ability when you are using depth jumps from a box roughly 24 inches and no higher than 30 inches. Dropping off higher boxes will produce an increase in maximal strength due to the fact that the amortization phase is longer than a plyometric action that must be no more than 0.15 seconds between eccentric and concentric contractions.

            Although a study by Wilson (1990) showed that some amount of stored energy is retained up to four seconds, it is not a plyometric action as some stored energy is used for reversal strength. The author finds by box squatting correctly reversal strength can be retained up to eight seconds.

            To perform a depth jump as Y. Verkhoshansky suggests, the athlete takes a step forward with one leg and at the top of the fall brings the other leg forward, which brings the two legs together. The legs must not bend before stepping off the box or platform. Do not jump, but drop forward.

            Next, the athlete must land on both legs on the balls of the feet and then quickly lean back on the heels. The landing should be relaxed and flexible, then cushion, and then to an immediate take off. This cushioning is the amortization phase and must be as brief as possible.

            The take-off phase goal is to jump onto the highest box possible or to reach up and touch the highest point attainable with one or two hands. It could be a point on the wall or a ball or flag that can be raised or lowered for each athlete. After jump, land as soft as possible on balls of feet.

            Depth jumps can be very stressful on the CNS as well as the lower extremities. Do not perform depth jumps when tired or suffering an injury. Beginners should limit depth jumps to 24 two times a week. The advanced can perform 40 jumps two times a week. A rule for any depth jumps is to be able to full squat two times body weight to endure the stress of the landing.

What is the process of a depth jump?

            As the athlete falls through space at 9.8 m/s, the speed of acceleration of gravity near Earth, the athlete has potential energy. As the athlete lands, he or she produces kinetic energy. K-E depends on the athlete’s weight and speed. Upon landing, the depth jump will produce elastic energy equal to the K-E of the athlete at the end of the fall.

            Upon landing, the shorter the braking time or the amortization phase from eccentric to concentric phase, the greater the muscular force for the take-off phase.

            Before depth jumps:

  1. Always warm up
  2. Do not use depth jumps when injured
  3. The amortization must be as short as possible under two-tenths of a second
  4. No more than five to eight depth jumps per set; no more than 24 per workout for novices; no more than 40 per workout for top athletes
  5. Concentrate on reversible strength on landing before raising box height
  6. Use adequate rest periods when doing any jumping.


Louie Simmons

December 2018


  1. Siff, Mel C. Supertraining, 6th Edition
  2. Simmons, Louie. Explosive Strength Development for Jumping. 
  3. Simmons, Louie. Special Strength Development for All Sports. 2015.
  4. Starzynski, Tadeusz. Explosive Power and Jumping Ability for All Sports: Atlas of Exercises (1-Apr-1999) Paperback. 1999. Stadion Pub.
  5.  Verkhoshansky, Yuri, and Verkhoshansky, Natalia. Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches.

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