A Brief Story

I should start by saying I have a background as a strength and conditioning coach, and I'm an athlete in powerlifting. I was in a small gym with two track athletes one year ago. The three of us began talking about jumping, and eventually, we challenged each other to a box jumping contest. 

Rules-wise, you could only take two steps before jumping, and whoever jumped the highest won. Athlete 1 was 180 pounds, Athlete 2 was 170 pounds, and I was 245 pounds. It's worth mentioning the three of us are tall men with similar limb lengths. Athletes 1 and 2 are explosive, athletic, and they jump for their sport, yet I was confident I could beat them. 

Generally speaking, I have a good idea of how athletes from their sport train—lots of running and jumping with minimal time spent in the weight room. So this is what fueled my confidence even though I had never performed a box jump in my life. 

In their minds, the word powerlifting meant big, strong, and SLOW. 

I jumped 58 inches, beating Athlete 1 by five inches and Athlete 2 by three inches.

You should have seen the looks on their faces… 

Why Did I Win?

I won because I have a higher Mass Specific Force (MSF). MSF is the amount of isometric force applied to the ground to offset the effects of gravity in relation to the individual's body weight. In simple terms, this is how strong you are in relation to your body weight. 

Jumping is an explosive movement, and explosive strength is the ability to produce the greatest amount of force possible in the shortest length of time possible. Keyword: force. The speed at which you generate force is important but not nearly as important as the amount of force you produce. 

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We were all fast, but speed was not the reason for my victory. I was much stronger than both athletes resulting in higher production of force and a greater MSF. I was so much stronger. Even though we were all explosive, I could jump higher than them at a significantly heavier body weight. 

If I had weighed less, the gap between our jump heights would have been even greater. 

The key point to take away from my story and the rest of this article is that I train to be strong AND explosive—these two special strengths complement each other. 

Explosive training is vital for being fast, but it will eventually yield diminishing returns if you don't train for strength. Muscles contract and produce force. Therefore, stronger muscles equate to greater force production. The opposite holds true for lifting something heavy: the faster you can produce force, the faster the weight will move, and the less chance you will fail a heavy lift. 

Lifting heavy is vital for being strong, but without dynamic lifting and explosive training, those heavy weights will also yield diminishing returns. 

Force= Mass X Acceleration

If you want to be more explosive and jump higher, you MUST become stronger!

The Program

Any athlete can use the Eight-Week Offseason Strength Training Program for Higher Jumping in any sport that requires jumping and explosive movements. This program focuses on developing Type 2B fast twitch muscle fibers through myofibrillar hypertrophy. 

In layman's terms, we are increasing the thickness of the muscle fibers needed for producing force without adding pretty muscle that looks good in the mirror but does not enhance performance. 

The workout is four days a week, 24-48 hours between workouts, spilt into two explosive days and two heavy-effort days that alternate. The program runs in three-week waves, increasing percentage and load each week, de-loading on the fourth week, and returning to the original percentages and loads on the fourth week for a new wave. The duration of the program is eight weeks, and is recommended for the offseason.


If you do not know how to perform a standing box jump, a box squat, and a sumo deadlift, then you must learn before starting the program. 

elitefts has great articles and videos on YouTube about these movements, so definitely check them out. 

You must also take a day before starting the program to perform and document personal records for the following movements:

  • Highest Standing Box Jump 
  • Sumo Deadlift 1RM
  • Box Squat 1RM (Box Squat should be to a depth slightly above parallel, where the crease of the hip is slightly above the knee)

Sled Dragging

You will drag sleds forward, not backward. Do not take short choppy steps. Open your stride and take steps slightly bigger than you would if walking normally. Do not run. Power walk and pull from the heel, as this will engage your hamstrings, glutes, and hips, which are the muscles we want to develop for higher jumping.

Explosive Workout

Sled Drags

50% body weight for 5 minutes nonstop

Kneeling Jumps

If this exercise is too easy put a barbell on your back or hold a medicine ball, 5 sets of 3 reps 15 to 30 seconds rest between sets

Box Jumps

Even though you are jumping to a box less than your personal record, be sure to jump as high as possible for every rep. Percentages are based on the height of your standing box jump personal record. 

For example, 75% of 50 inches is 37.5 inches. You may not be able to get an exact height based on the equipment you have available, so adjust as needed, but try your best to get as close to the required height as possible. 

Perform 8 sets of 5 jumps with 30- to 45-second rest intervals between sets.

Week 1- 75%          

Week 2- 80%          

Week 3- 85%

Week 5- 80%          

Week 6- 85%          

Week 7- 90%

Box Squat

Perform 6 sets of 4 reps with 1-minute rest between sets 

Attach an elitefts Pro Mini Resistance Band to the Barbell

Week 1- 50%          

Week 2- 55%          

Week 3- 60%

Week 5- 55%          

Week 6- 60%          

Week 7- 65%

Sumo Deadlift

Attach an elitefts Pro Mini Resistance Band to the Barbell

Perform 6 sets of 3 reps with 1-minute rest between sets

Week 1- 50%          

Week 2- 55%          

Week 3- 60%

Week 5- 55%          

Week 6- 60%          

Week 7- 65%

If you do not have the following equipment, there are ways to modify these exercises. Feel free to comment on this article; I'll be happy to help.

Use a band to assist and make the exercise less difficult. If you can perform the following two exercises without the assistance of a band, congratulations, your hamstrings are in good shape. If the exercise is too easy, add resistance, and hold on to a medicine ball or a weight.

Nordic Hamstring Curls

Perform 4 sets of 5 reps with 1-minute rest between sets

Rest 3 to 5 minutes before the next exercise

Glute Hamstring Raise Machine (GHR)

Again, use a band to assist if needed

4 sets of 5 reps with 1-minute rest between sets

Reverse Hyper®

50% body weight 

Perform 100 reps nonstop. If you cannot do this, break it down into sets, 2 sets of 50, 4 sets of 25, etc.

Sled Drags

Power walk without breaking form, do not run.

Drag for 2 minutes nonstop for 5 sets with 45 seconds rest between sets

Percentages are based on your bodyweight

Week 1- 75%          

Week 2- 80%          

Week 3- 85%

Week 5- 80%          

Week 6- 85%          

Week 7- 90%

Trunk Work

I recommend Ab Wheel Rollouts, Cable Torso Rotations, Banded Pallof Press, Weighted Planks, or Side Bridges, but feel free to get creative.

Heavy Effort

Sled Drags

50% body weight for 5 minutes nonstop

Box Squat

Warm up to working weight

Perform 5 sets of 3 reps with 2 to 3 minutes rest between sets

Week 1- 80% Week 2- 85% Week 3- 90%

Week 5- 82% Week 6- 88% Week 7- 92%

Barbell Romanian Deadlift

Perform 5 sets of 5 reps with 1-minute rest between sets

Percentages based on Sumo Deadlift 1RM; however, you'll perform this exercise with a conventional stance

Week 1- 75%          

Week 2- 80%          

Week 3- 85%

Week 5- 82%          

Week 6- 88%          

Week 7- 92%

Sled Drag

Drag sled nonstop for 1 minute, perform 5 sets with 1 to 2 minutes rest between sets.

If you lean forward excessively, start taking choppy steps, or break form, then lower the weight.

BW = Bodyweight

Week 1 & 5- BW + 20 pounds        

Week 2 & 6- BW + 30 pounds         

Week 3 & 7- BW + 40 pounds

Reverse Hyper®

Load 50% of box squat 1RM, perform 4 sets of 25 reps 

Deloading Weeks

You will have two deloading weeks during this program on Week 4 and Week 8. The exercises will not change, but the volume and percentage will. 

Reference the following:

Percentages used on explosive days will be 45% for compound lifts, and 65% BW for Sled Drags. Heavy effort days will be 65% for compound lifts and 65% BW for sled drags.

Deload Explosive Day:

Kneeling Jumps – 2 sets of 5 jumps

Box Jumps – 4 sets of 5 jumps

Box Squat – 6 sets of 2 reps

Sumo Deadlift – 3 sets of 3 reps

Reduce accessories and Sled Dragging by 2 sets

Deload Heavy Effort Day:

Box Squat 3 sets of 3 reps

Barbell RDL 3 sets of 3 reps

Sled Drags for 3 sets

Reduce accessory work by 2 sets

After your last deload week jump to a box and set a new record!

Final Notes

Taper your sport-specific training during this program. Remember, you're in the offseason. You can perform upper body workouts on the days you are not using this program but be sure to manage fatigue. 

Your main goal for the next eight weeks is to jump higher and become more explosive. To maintain the strength and explosiveness gained during this program, continue to drag sleds and perform heavy accessory work. 

Reduce the volume on compound lifts while in-season.

I also recommend performing 100-200 Banded Leg Curls daily to strengthen connective tissue at the knee joint and reduce the chance of injury.

Header image credit: restyler © 123rf.com

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Chuck Simons is an Army veteran. He lives in Pinellas Park, Florida. As a strength coach, he works out of the Tampa Bay area and holds a Westside Barbell Certified Special Strength Coach certification. Chuck is a competitive powerlifter in the APF and a part of Barbell Barbell.

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