T Nation

White Men Can Jump

First off I have been lurking around the forum but haven’t posted. I am amazed at the amount of knowledge in this forum. I was completely wasting my time before I found this site. So on to my question, I am going to start Ian King’s White Men Can Jump program soon and was wondering how I can incorporate it into a split. Is there a good upper body program that I could use? How should I incorporate an ab workout? After doing a search in the forums there were some people that pointed out that this program focuses on the quads. Should I add hamstring, glute work? Also if anyone has done this program it would be cool if you could tell me your results? Thanks

I been an pratcing my vertical jump for a long time. I have a 36 inch vertical jump. And if there anything thing i can tell you that helped the most was working out the posttior chain. Which translates to YES HAM AND GLUTES ARE A MUST. As well as back quads achellies tendons. and proper form.
Abs are key factors for any kind of explosive movments.

I notices the biggest differnece in my jump after this acticle from http://www.defrancostraining.com/articles/archive/article_fab15.htm

There are also a few sites on T mag and links on defrancos page too. I hope that will help you out without me going all crazy with detials because you should just read it yourself.

A friend of mine used white men, he had succes, but minor. He gained a good 20 lbs on his squat, and his vertical improved, maybe 2-3 inches. To the defranco guy, I was wondering which exercises you used the most. I’m currently using the snatch grip deadlift, can you recommend the box squat? what lifts out of the list did you use most?

On the defranco artical number 15 is to practice your technique. What is good technique jumping because I havn’t found any articals where Defranco talks about it.

as far as defranco goes he puts together a nice split right here

as far as Ian Kings stuff goes, i would proceed with caution. Not to say my opinion amounts to much against his, but his program suggests a lot of quad emphasis. Which if you have done any sort of other jump programs out there for any amount of time your quads are probably not the weak part of your jump. Poulquin, defranco and some of the westside guys say your posterior chain is where its at for jumping. so if you do Kings program try to work in some extra hamstring and lowerback stuff.
take it easy and goodluck.

I had over a 40" vertical for quite a while, and still boast a 36" vertical, with very sporadic training over the past few years, and I am 32. When I was playing football in the Sunshine state, we also had a Free Safety named Michael Gilmore with over a 40" vertical… and he was also a white boy.

But, at 177 pounds, I could (top of the thigh) parallel squat four plates and a quarter(455 lbs), and could clean 305… never got 3 plates. This came from a high school lifting program in the Sunshine State that emphasized Full Squats, Trap Bar Deads, 1-second pause bench press, and clean and jerks… and tons of conditioning and sprint work.

In Florida, weightlifting is a spring sport, so many athletes have outstanding cleans. We had a guy who cleaned 365 at 181 lbs… needless to say when I played free safety behind him (he was an ILB), there were some awesome explosions when other teams ran iso… I would be giggling like a school girl.

So, get strong in your ass, hips, hammies, low back, shoulders and calves, and improve your RFD through dynamic lifts and jumping drills (or playing V-Ball like I did).

JoeDefranco’s site has many great articles, and his video is very well done… actually it is suprisingly well done compared to most of the stuff I have gotten as of late.

The keys to a good vertical test are outlined on his video.

Key points include standing with your reaching shoulder directly under the middle of the tabs. Counter stretch immediately before jumping (ie, reach up and stretch upward). Quick drop and downward armswing. Drop to 1/4 squat at most. Then explode up hard and stretch your hand to the pins without swatting.

I thought most of this was common knowledge, but apparently I overestimate the level of coaching out there. I was lucky to have a 2-time all Big 8 player as a HS Football Coach. So, we trained hard… and intelligently. BTW, I was a very good athlete for my school, but we had about a dozen guys under 6’ who could dunk, had 5 triple jumpers over 43 feet, and we won the men’s county title in track with only 8 varsity runners… 2 distance, 6 sprinter/ jumper/ pole vaulters. We weren’t awesome athletes… just hardened by some great coaches.

Anyone who says that white guys can’t jump is an ass… basketball players generally do not jump well do to their absolute aversion to the weightroom… I have tried to hammer home the importance of lifting to countless lower level college B-Ball players, but they just don’t get it. They don’t understand that the reason why many of them went DII in the first place is because they are built like tall 9 year old girls. So if they jump well, it is genetics… and many hite FB players just carry too much body fat.

The triple jump record is still held by Jonathan Edwards… no? 60’, I believe… not bad for a white boy (England). And, the Swedes always have very good high jumpers… as do the Russians. But, these are athletes who work hard, and don’t think that buying gimmicky devises will add 8-10" on their verticals… only work will do that.

So, throw away your Playstations you dopey white guys ( I have never owned one…), get your pasty white asses in the squat racks, build a strong lean body with GPP drills, and then move on to coordinating your jumping with plyos, B-Ball, and V-ball. The lean part is no joke… stay lean, or your battle is very tough. I am about 212 right now, and I guarantee you if I would just drop back to 190 or so, I would be right up near 40 again…as an old man.

once i started doing 50 M sprints again my vertical went up a bit. fast runners are usually good jumpers as well

not neccesarily, the two fastest 55m runners in out school have poor verts, at least from my standpoint. I am 230lbs currently with 17%bodyfat and I can outjump them(yeh I know Im a chunker, I am working on it). But when I race the fastest 55m guy in a standing 30, we tied. So i suppose your states could hold.

Cool topic…I play ball and I have about a 28" vertical, would love to get it up to 34"+. I do emphasize the posterior chain work in the weight room. One thing that DeFranco says in his article has me curious, he says most good jumpers (over 36") have high cut calfs (high insertion points) and long achilles tendon. How critical is that? Can having low calf insertion point calves prevent you from a 35" + vert?

critical, jumping is more of a tendon thing, the longer and stiffer it is the more energy it stores when it stretches to release when it shortens

Silverback, what a great post. I’m going to get my son to read it. He’s really young still (12) but if he gets on the right road early, he should be a great FB player. At 52, I may run in some senior events (200M) and am doing alot more posterior chain w/o’s now. I do agree w/Trench and DeFranco though that achilles insertion has an influence on vertical jump. But, you go with what you’re given and try to maximize it. I do not have good genetics but alot can be overcome with consistent, smart training.
Going back to the kid comment - you’re right to move them out of the computer-screen entertainment and get them to enjoy the outdoors and lifting too. Again, inspirational msg.


While there is something to be said for having a high insertion point for your calf, it usually isn’t the answer… just a sorry excuse to explain years of neglect in terms of training and activity.

A high calf does provide you with a greater stretch reflex (theoretically) when it is performing any counter-movements. But, in force generation during the vertical test jumping movement, I am pretty certain that most force is generated in your rear chain and quads. I am almost positive that there have been some studies done about this during the JumpSoles period. What JumpSoles did for most kids was to prepare the unprepared. Ex: the most common injuries in lower level athletics in college (ie. sports that involve athletes who never miss a night out at the bar during the off-season, sports who have scholarships in the name of equity, but whose athletes start training for the sport a mere 6 weeks prior to the season, etc.) are soft tissue injuries. Tendonitis, achilles strains, foot strains, ankle problems. All of these issues can be avoided by not getting out of shape, and by maintaing a high level of activity.

So, JumpSoles helped dopey kids get stronger soft tissues through overloading them. That is why many kids who jumped right into the program outlined (no pun intended, hehe) would hurt themselves.

But, if you didn’t overdo it, the gains were phenomonal due to your newfound ability to transfer the force from your legs into the ground quickly.

Your calves are already far stronger mechanically than the rest of your leg, and if you stay in shape, and have an efficient jumping motion, then very little jumping is needed. My best vertical test came at a Gus Macker in 93, I believe. It was 42", and I am 5’11". And yes, I could vertically dunk a basketball two-handed, no step. The funny thing is that I can’t jump really well off of one foot, due to my jump training coming from volleyball. This vertical followed a period of 1/4 squats (very heavy), good mornings, box squats, and Cleans… these are the lifts I was emphasizing. Plus, I was playing V-ball twice a week, but very little basketball. Oh, I was also doing 20 minutes of core work 5 nights a week (pick an exercise, do it hard for 40 seconds, rest for the next 20 seconds, and repeat 20x)

I always jumped my highest when I limited V-Ball and B-Ball to 2-3 times per week… although I played for hours. This allowed my knees to handle heavy lifting.

Most kids play pick-up constantly, and I believe they have very efficient jumping motions, but never develop strength.

Like Numba pointed out, his power carries him in the 30, and helps his vertical, but he cannot achieve top speed efficiency due to the weight. I was the same way. In college, I gained weight for football, and my 40 was great, but I could no longer triple jump, and my 100 and 200 were crappy. ( I was alao no longer doing max speed or special endurance work.)

So, TrenchDawg, if you are still with me, a high achilles is good, but not critical. A high achilles is more important if you are jumping on the move, because the stretch reflex plays a far more critical role. During a vertical test, you try to invoke the stretch reflex by having a fast decent, but it nowhere near matches the forces on your achilles and calf region during a triple jump or lay-up type jump. Does this make sense? When you are running, the forces into the ground are equivalent to 5 or 6 times your body weight, when you dip for a vertical, you just cannot create that type of force.

I would guess that if you focused on being lean (do you have veins along your abs and chest, and are your cheekbones apparent?), getting your squat eqaul to AT LEAST twice your body weight. That is top of the thigh parallel… get a beeper from BFS if you need one… we always used one when we squatted in high school, although we didn’t do the BFS system.

Work on being able to fully extend your ankle. I say this due to my wife’s background in ballet. She is no small lady, havng played V-ball for UCF,but had a great vertical, and she could grab the rim in high school and was a three time state high jumper due to a life in ballet… and some very strong legs. She really gets a full extension when she jumps, and her toe is points traight down into the ground… mine cannot do this… no training. Funny thing is, she went almost unrecruited due to us living in a small area in Florida.

Really work on your core, and your low back. This is huge… I have seen very few good jumpers without a strong core… maybe not great abs due to diet, but a stomache that you could punch when it is flexed, and the person could take it. And, a low back that looks like two thick tree roots.

Then, work in some quarter squats… AFTER getting your full squats strong. I have worked with a number of high jumpers who can only full squat 2 times their weight, but quarter squat for reps 4-5 times their weight… obviously this is after a long period of core training.

And of course, you must be doing RFD training, whether it be box squats, claens, snatches, push-jerks, etc.

Then maybe some soft tissue work, like calf raises, seated calf raises, etc, but only if time permits.

Achilles: Important for stretch reflex, yes. Straight vertical?.. less important, but yes.

Rear Chain: Ultra important. End of story. And I would go so far as to say that if you are spending more actual time doing extra rear chain stuff than squatting movements (ie. you are doing good mornings, pull-throughs, and reverse hypers for more time than squats), then you are missing the boat.

Quads: important for final protion of press into the ground, and in stabilizing the knee during landing, but, less important than a strong back and butt.

BTW: Two of the best jupers I have ever seen in high school were two kids with long Skinny Calves. One was name Lonnie Anderson, and the other was name Shawn Larson. Both were incredibly strong for their weight (porbably 150-160 lbs at the time), and both could jump throught the roof. I do not know whatever happened to these two guys, but they were exactly the opposite in terms of calf form than what people desire. Both had mid-30’s verticals in high school, and could jump amazingly off the move.

Trench, when you can legitimately squat twice your body weight, can clean 1.5-1.75 times your weight, and can see your abs clearly due to activity level more than just dieting, then you will start pinning the B-Ball against the backboard regularly. Until then, keep working.

And Trench- a 28" vertical is good… for a white guy…hehe.


Keep your kid out on the field. Pick-up soccer, basketball, whatever. I was a skinny kid in HS:

9th: 5’7", 103 lbs.
10th: 5’9" 122 lbs.
11th: 5’10" 142 lbs.
12th: 5’10" 165 lbs.

But, I was absolutely, ridiculously, shredded due to activity level. Everyone who trained with us had ‘veins on their veins’.

We had Winners Club at 6am every day, which was what we call GPP now, and I played F-Ball (Fall), Soccer (Winter), and Tennis and Track (Spring). Add in Weightlifting class every day, and you can see why I was always ready to play… always. And, the only time we tapered our lifting was for our Football conference games, and for States in Track… period. Otherwise it was 3 days of heavy lifting, and two days of easy dynamic agiltiy, light plyo, and stretching emphasis.

I was lucky to have a grueling HS football coach, who was much better at preparing his athletes to play than really coaching football.

Keep your son away from the TV and Girls… period. I know the girls part will be tough, but keep him a kid for as long as you can. High School relationships are ridiculous at best. Trust me, I went out with a psycho in HS. And now I realize I will never get that time back… ever.

I will try to get T-Mag to let me write some articles in the future, because the questions about vertical, and athlete training Meso-cycles keep coming up. CT has really upped the bar at this site, and I would like to help contribute in the same spirit, depending on if they accept my work… I assume they will. If, not, I will just post them on the threads. Too many people with questions… and I am a coach, so my smiles come from seeing young athletes succeeed.

Good luck with your son. This is an exciting time.

Lil’ Coach H

Sorry about my typos… I am in a hurry this week… two MBA tests, and a Case study write-up.

yes, im sure my weight would even out if i trained more like a sprinter, but if you look at sports its all about acc., and as I put on more weight while loosing my bodyfat my acc. continually is on the rise along with my vert. I think my vert was best in 7th grade though, I have been able to get up for a while, just my weight has been changing throughout th eyears. In 7th i could dunk a tennis ball @ 145lbs, 8th i got up to 190, 9th 235, 10th 255, now I am 230 and getting leaner while gaining mass. Since december I have gained 25lbs and from how my clothes are fitting its muscle. So the added weight is fine with me as long as its muscle.


Great info!! I’m 6’5" 230 right now, so I am going to focus on getting stronger and leaner. That’s inspiring news about the calf insertion point. I would never use it as an excuse but was wondering if it was a limiting factor. Coincidentally, I was watching women’s gymnastics today and I saw a girl that was jumping thru the roof with very low calfs. So, go figure!!

Take care and keep this type of info coming. We need more of it on the board.


Thanks for all the great information I think I will go with the DeFranco program and see how that works. It seems like a more logical program.

I would really like to see you write an article, it sounds like you are very knowledgeable on the subject.


Great info!! I’m 6’5" 230 right now, so I am going to focus on getting stronger and leaner. That’s inspiring news about the calf insertion point. I would never use it as an excuse but was wondering if it was a limiting factor. Coincidentally, I was watching women’s gymnastics today and I saw a girl that was jumping thru the roof with very low calfs. So, go figure!!

Take care and keep this type of info coming. We need more of it on the board.


Thanks guys!

Numba- I have followed your posts and have listened to your progress for a while now. You sound like a good young athlete whose body is starting to really come into it own. Keep up the reading, and absorb as much as possible from every coach around you…analyze it… and you will make an amazing coach…after your playing days have ended.

T-Dawg: Very true. Gymnasts are lean, and they do a ton of jumping and altitude landings just with their routines… plus, any other form of jump training they do additionally. Remember, high strength to mass ratio plus RFD training equals explosive athlete. But as numba pointed out, efficiency of movement also plays a key factor. So he is explosive, but cannot carry top speed due to a number of factors… with his size, who cares? You and Numba sound like big dudes… at 6’5" and 28" vertical, you should be able to touch about 10’8" or so…no?
Unless you have short arms. I am 5’11", but have 36" arms…hehe…like a silveback, only skinnier…and quicker.

Casey- Great plan. Defranco and CT are right on…obviously. Remember that power is a factor of RFD AND Maximal Strength. So, you should work on getting strong as all get-out, while maintaining as much RFD as possible. Then, shift focus onto more RFD work. I like to use a conjugate method which is really a modification of BIG COACH H’s tier system, but have periods similar to CT’s CAD according to tapering and RFD needs, plus alter my phase focus on an undulating (pendulum) basis.

Joe’s and CT’s plans are absolutely sound, and these guys get results… you can’t go wrong with anything they prescribe… period.

Let me get past this semester from hell, and I will release some training papers that I have written. Just helping to solidify training concepts and how to apply them to specific needs, so all of us white guys can drop step and dunk.

what is RFD?