Might as well Jump

TAGS: vertical, squat jump, jumps, depth jump, backboard slap, clark, box jump

As in the immortalized words sung by Van Halen (you know, from the David Lee Roth days, not the watered down Sammy Hagar timeframe), I’m writing this article to share one of the absolute most inexpensive ways to increase your squat, deadlift, Olympic lifts, vertical leap, 40-yard dash time, and overall explosiveness. That’s by jumping. There’s nothing fancy here and no expensive machines are needed. More than likely, if you’re reading this article, you probably already have the tools to do it. Ok, let’s rock.

Becoming explosive is the key to almost all sports, except for maybe curling or racing and a few more. So if you aren’t jumping, you’re missing the boat. Now, you may be saying, “Chris, I’m too fat to jump.” That’s bull because I did it at 380 lbs, and I never once sank in the ground or drove my ankle or shin bones through my feet. I did fall a few times, but that’s because I was not that coordinated and this helped me tremendously. Whether your goal is to squat 1000 lbs, dunk a basketball, spike a volleyball, or run a 4.2 second 40-yard dash, you’ve come to the right place.

I recommend that you start your jumping regimen simply and slowly with spotters if necessary and work your way up to the hard stuff. It’s all going to help. It’s a way to train without that heavy load on your back all the time. It’s a way to break up a stale training cycle, and it’s a way to get more people staring at you in the gym than ever before. You know how it is. You have your posse of Darksiders on one end where the big boys roll and all the mortals are on the other end curling, pretending not to look your way as you grind out that big dead or hoist around an Atlas stone or have a band contraption set up like a taffy machine at the beach. Start jumping. They won’t know what to think. Oh, some will try it when you’re not there to see them. Just like if a tree fell and no one was there, it wouldn’t make a sound.

There are many different jumping exercises, too many for me to touch on in an article format. However, I will hit the highlights more than enough to get you started and limit repetition. Most of these jumps can be done holding kettlebells, dumbbells, weight plates, sandbags, or medicine balls or wearing ankle weights, weighted belts, or weight vests. They can also be done with a barbell on your back. (I highly recommend that you use bumper plates in case it gets squirrelly and you have to let it go. Please reserve this movement for the more advanced lifter and start with light weights.) Bands can also be used on the majority of these movements by attaching them using the Spud rings or in some cases simply putting them over your shoulders.

Box jumps

  1. Sitting on a parallel or below box, rock back and lift your feet. Slam them down on the ground (similar to squat stance form, the width may be varied from workout to workout) and explode into the jump. You can jump up onto a stable surface like another box, a plyo box, a bench, or the top of the reverse hyper or just jump up. The latter is tougher to judge your progress by but none the less still effective. This movement can also be done using one leg.
  1. Standing flat-footed in a close, medium, or wide stance, simply squat down and jump up to a box or other stable surface. This movement can also be done using one leg at a time.
  1. Perform side to side jumps. These can be done by starting with your left foot on top of the box and jumping up (using your left leg only) to the left while reaching up as far as possible with your right hand and landing with your left foot on the ground and your right foot on top of the box. Continue back and forth. This movement can be done using both feet at the same time, but it’s not as cool.
  1. Perform alternated one-leg jumps. Start in front of a tall box with one foot up on the box (in the step-up position). Use that leg to propel yourself upward and land that foot on the ground and the other foot on top of the box in preparation for the next jump. This movement works well in the rack with Spud rings and bands as resistance wrapped around heavy dumbbells or the rack. If you incorporate the bands, please use spotters.

Depth jumps

  1. Standing on a box, simply jump down. Land in your choice of stances and jump up onto another box. This jump helps with your stretch reflex because of the loading phase of jumping down. You may choose to quickly rebound or bottom out to the bottom squat position before jumping up to the next box. Yeah, you guessed it. This can also be done with one leg at a time. However, be careful, especially if you are a heavier individual like me.
  1. Perform series depth jumps. Place a line of boxes (similar or my favorite—different height boxes) and simply jump down from one up onto the next. Continue down the line. This movement can also be done laterally, but it requires extra coordination.

Squat jumps

  1. With a barbell or safety squat bar (a little easier to hold on to than a straight bar) on your back, simply perform squats. (I strongly recommend using bumper plates in case you have to dump the weight. They are bigger, and it looks like more weight.) As you accelerate through the lockout, jump up and land with springy legs to absorb the impact with your legs, not your spine. I can’t say strongly enough, please use spotters and progress very slowly over time. This movement can be done holding dumbbells, plates, sandbags, or almost anything you can imagine. You can use band tension on this movement. Just proceed cautiously. Chains work well. Sometimes you have to be a little creative in the set-up though. I set them up like a normal chain set-up, except I attach the load chain on the end, not in the middle. So there is five feet of working weight, not 2.5 feet.
  1. Perform Zercher jumps (yeah, you guessed it) from a low start position with a bar (preferably a fat bar) in the crook of your arms. Explode up and through the top and land as in squat jumps. You may also use a similar band or chain set-up as used in section A. This one is a great deadlift builder.

Backboard slaps

  1. Jump up off of both feet and slap the backboard. Try alternating hands and try to jump higher and higher. Spud rings work very well here. Simply attach the bands to the rings and let members of your “click” stand on them. The tension can be regulated by their foot placement on the band. Don’t forget the weighted vest and/or ankle weights on this one.

Once you start jumping, you won’t be able to stop. It’s addictive because it works, and you see results almost immediately. You can improve your lifts without lifting because you’re training on more than one plane. Incorporate jumping into you workout as a warm up or an accessory movement. You can even replace speed squats or speed pulls with jumps. Occasionally, use them as extra work to increase your general physical preparedness (GPP).

So get off your lazy butt and become a stronger, faster, more coordinated, more rounded, highly explosive athlete. In the words of the infamous Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity and beyond.”

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.

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