T Nation

Building the Vertical Jump


Hi CT,

I'm just wondering what your current thoughts are as to what would be most beneficial when trying to improve one's vertical jump. I've read through some of your older stuff and am just curious as to how your thoughts might be different nowdays. Obviously things such as getting stronger or doing more jumping always help, I was thinking more as in what exercises and/or methods you generally see make the biggest difference.

Been reading up a lot on your recent training methods, the layer approach is pretty fascinating to learn about. Thanks ahead of time for any advice


There are no secrets to improve the vertical jump. It is actually fairly simple but if you are not naturally explosive it can take some Time to reprogram the nervous system.

1) do jumps daily, not at a super high volume, overdoing jump volume is actually a good way to become less explosive. No more than 5-10 min doing sets of ni more than 5 reps.

2) loaded jumps (barbell jump squats for example) are also a very good tool to use, but most people use way to much weight; the goal is not to see the heaviest weight you can jump with, but how explosive you can be with added weight. Most people should use 20-30% of their Max squats.

3) become very explosive in the whole power spectrum; jumps, jump squats with 20-30%, speed squats with 40-50% sometimes with added chains, olympic lifts with 70-80%

4) use depth jumps for 2-3 weeks, 20 total jumps twice per week for a rapid peaking. But only use it when you improved all elements in 3) because depth jumps only work for 3 weeks and only once in a 12 weeks cycke


Thanks for the response CT. I know there are no secrets, it is still good to see you lay them out and confirm some of the things I was thinking and giving me an idea or two

I've also been interested in your cutting out upper body horizontal lifts in order to give you more shoulder mobility in catching the snatch and jerk. It is something I am looking at doing to, but for a different reason (more mobility in a volleyball swing) I have been playing around with the idea of just doing push ups and med ball throws, as horizontal pressing strength has never seemed to translate to a faster swing for me


A friend of mine is a pro baseball pitcher in the minors and recently he told me that he was throwing harder as the season progressed and that hé came to the conclusion that it came from losing chest mass and tightness which led to more shoulder mobility.

Push ups will not do you much good and might even make the shoulder less mobile, dips would be a better option to cpmplete overhead work . Nowhere is it written that you must do an horizontal pressing movement


That's very interesting you say that. I've definitely noticed my arm seeming quicker, or acting more like a whip when I've taken time off from lifting.

Ok I'm going to go ahead and cut out horizontal work and note my observations. Definitely intrigued to see what happens when I just stick with overhead work


When you think about it, horizontal pressing is a faily new phenrmrnon in strenght training. Old-Time strongmen only lifted weights overhead, the first "lifters" mostly did the olympic lifts, squats, deadlifts, rows, curls and dips.

Vince Gironda, the first bodybuilding guru even recommendes avoiding the bench press


A very valid point, and one I neglected to think about. There was no way to horizontal press before we decided we needed to lie down while lifting. Both my shoulders have actually been a little achy since I've upped the push up volume, perhaps taking out any horizontal movements will settle them down.

There seems to be very few instances where one would actually need to horizontally press. Most sports simply need strong shoulders, all of which can be accomplished via the overhead press and other auxiliary exercises. I'm really excited to give this a try and see how I respond, both from a shoulder health standpoint and also a performance one.


For some reason many think that the overhead press only works the shoulders and triceps but the chest is definitely involved and will develop under heavy pressing conditions.


That is very true, when the military press was contested in olympic lifting, lifters had pretty good pectorals. But today everybody seems to ne poluted by the idea that each muscle needs its very own exercise, which isn't true


I remember hearing Steve Young say that Bill Walsh always thought that QB's have to do the bench test at the combine was stupid and would purposely not draft a young QB with too much mass in his chest.