3 Supersets To Increase Your Vertical
I know why you're here: You want to jump higher.
You want to glide through the air and throw down a vicious slam. You want to leap 40 inches over your defender in the back of the end zone and catch a one handed touchdown.
I know because I've been there. I know because I'm still chasing that exact same thing we're going to talk about today: Elite athleticism & the vertical jump.
Power training plays an important role in the success of sports that require explosive vertical or linear movement. Football, basketball, tennis, hockey, track, the list goes on.
If you want to be a better or an elite athlete, you need to be able to create & apply more force than your counterparts.
You also need to be able to apply force as quickly as possible.
You need to be more explosive.
The ability to generate more force will make you stronger. Being able to apply that force quickly will make you more explosive.
Having that physical edge in sports alone, can help make or break an athlete's career.
So how do we do this?
One very effective way to do it, as the title would suggest, is with the help of supersets.
Effective Type II-b Muscle Fiber Recruitment
For all the athletes out there reading this, I'm pretty sure most of you have previously followed a workout program constructed like this:
- little to no resistance training with an insane amount of plyometrics.
- a program that required you to do strength work on one day, followed by plyometrics on a completely different day.
The reason I am writing this article is because resistance training along with plyometrics should be paired together in order to effectively recruit more fast twitch muscle fibers.
Any action you undertake during fast paced sports are performed by type-II muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are bigger, and more "explosive" in nature. They are the ones to fire first during high intensity movements. They generate more force than your type-I muscle fibers.
Your type I muscle fibers have a higher anaerobic capacity. They're used in your everyday movement, walking, cooking, etc. These activities can be classified as "low intensity".
You want to limit low intensity, high rep training if you want to maximize the effectiveness of your training & increase your vertical.
You want to stop constantly chasing the "pump".
I have a couple guys that have asked me recently how come i'm able to jump higher while spending less time in the gym and the following holds true: Less is more.
More focus on lifting heavy weights while spending less time in the gym beating up your muscles.
Post Activation Potentiation.
As mentioned above, to develop rate of force (how fast you create force or “explode”) you need to target your type II-b muscle fibers; They’re the ones that provide the most force explosively allowing for maximum power. Post activation potentiation (PAP) allows you to do exactly that - in the most efficient way possible.
PAP is the increase in muscle force and rate of force development. This happens as a result of previous activation/contraction of the muscle, caused by a "heavy load conditioning stimulus".
Post-activation potentiation is a theory that supports the following:
"The contractile history of a muscle, along with acute excitation of the neuromuscular system, influences the mechanical performance of subsequent muscle contractions."
Take a second if you need it.
For example, performing a 5RM deadlift before performing an explosive exercise, you can improve your performance in jumping, sprinting, throwing, kicking and even change of direction.
Decades of scientific studies have shown that high repetitions impairs muscle performance, but low reps with high loads have shown to enhance muscle performance.
It must be noted: the conditioning exercise must be biomechanically similar to the performance activity.
You can't bench press to increase your vertical jump just like a back squat won't improve bench press performance. This is common sense.
The excitation of the nervous system can last up to 25 minutes after activity however, the research in regards to PAP is not set in stone.
Ever wondered why you can't jump to save your life walking into a gym but feel like Bugs Bunny after playing for an hour? This is why.
The Force-Velocity Curve
The force-velocity curve describes the inverse relationship between the force a muscle can produce and the speed of a muscle contraction.
The amount of force that can be generated by a concentric muscular contraction goes down as the velocity (speed) goes up, and vice versa.
When lifting heavy weights, the velocity of the movement halted by the load placed upon your body.
You can't explode effectively because your muscle fibers are too busy dealing with the weight.
Makes sense right?
The implication here is that peak power output is not possible at maximal force. Peak power is best achieved at around 60-70% of maximal force and at about 30-40% of maximum velocity.
This is why you should rely on supersets to increase your vertical leap.
Your supersets should be constructed like this:
- Maximal strength exercise - using a load greater than or equal to 85% of your one rep max (six or fewer repetitions).
- Power exercise (plyometric exercise, preferably loaded), for 3-8 repetitions.
By doing this, you will be training for maximal force production followed immediately by maximal speed. This will focus on both adaptations in order to achieve maximal power when taking off and ultimately increase your vertical jump.
Before you go
Prerequisites for power training include: a good base of stability, strength, optimal range of motion around key joints like the hips, ankles along with good neuromuscular control.
If you don't fit this mold, I strongly suggest you work on these aspects first, before performing the supersets outlined below.
1. Trap Bar Deadlift + Dumbbell Jump Squat
(Bilateral strength + bilateral loaded plyometric exercise)
If you take a look at anyone's "gather" (the motion before jumping off the ground) it is never a full squat.
This motion is always a quick quarter squat into the jump. This why the trap bar is an excellent tool - to mimic the range of motion of an actual jump.
The exercise allows you to load the squat pattern without doing full "ass to grass" squats.
This is followed by the dumbbell squat jumps. This is where we unload the weight and continue to train vertical explosiveness.
The weight has been lowered, and we're actually jumping, so we're training at a higher velocity.
Variation: Barbell Back Squats + Dumbbell Squat Jumps.
2. Barbell Deadlift + 3 Step Jump
(Bilateral strength + bilateral plyometric exercise)
This superset is a combination of powerful hip extension, followed by an all out explosive jump.
The barbell deadlift is a pillar of hip extension & functional movement. A deadlift of 1.5x your body weight is a good baseline of strength for a high vertical jump.
In addition, the entirety of your jumping mechanics are at work with the 3 step jump.
The swing & drive from your arms, the planting of your block food (last point of contact) in the ground, the extension of your hips, the list goes on.
Use this explosive exercise as an opportunity to refine your jumping technique.
Aim for 3-5 good reps and explode as high as you can on every jump, with a soft landing.
Variation: Barbell deadlift + box jumps
3. Elevated Split Squats + Jumping Kickback
(Unilateral strength + unilateral plyometric exercise)
I love heavy single leg strength work because it translates directly to sports. Think about how many times you push off one leg during a game or a match compared to two. Both legs must be equally as strong to be a great athlete.
This is where the elevated split squat comes into play. The elevated split squat is the most brutal and effective single leg strength exercise you can do. This exercise is a staple to every single one of my leg workouts.
After you perform the single leg split squat for each leg, the single leg kickback exercise will do wonders for your single leg explosiveness.
This exercise mimics the exact motion happening mid air when you've exploded off the ground: You kick your legs.
Train this jump and your subconscious mind will do the work the next time you take off for a dunk or to catch a ball.
Variation: Barbell Elevated Split Squat + Alternating Jumping Lunges