Sunday, February 10, 2008

10 Vertical Jump/Athletic Tips

Hello and welcome. This blog will mostly be focused on stuff that will improve your hops and make you a better athlete. Occasionally, I will write about other crap that interests me or pisses me off. While I'm a basketballer and am moslty writing to other basketballers, improving your vert almost always makes you faster and in order to do that you must become strong and explosive. What athlete wouldn't benefit from that? No, bowling, fishing, and Nascar racing are not sports.

If you don't know some of the terms I discuss, look them up on the internet. These are in no particular order:
1. DRINK MORE WATER. Everyone knows they should, but doesn't. I almost drink nothing else besides water. Most people are dehydrated and don't even know it.

2. START STRETCHING MORE. Most people know by now that you shouldn't static stretch (holding a position for 10 -30 seconds) before you work out. The best time to incorporate static stretching into your day is is two -four hours after you train. This allows the lactic acid to sufficiently leave your muscles so you can make better gains in your flexibility. Start doing dynamic stretching and mobility drills before you train. Joe DeFranco even advises doing some PNF stretching (contrast-relax method) pre-work out. Some people advise stretching immediately after you train, while others insist this is one of the worst times to stretch. You will make the best gains in flexibilty if you are warmed-up before each stretching session, but seriously, no one is going to want to get all sweaty multiple times a day just so they can stretch for 15-20 minutes. It's your choice, but I've still made great progress stretching "cold". Look up and research the different stretching methods (there are more than I've mentioned) and decide for yourself which is best for you.

3. LIFT HEAVY. Yes, both upper and LOWER body. "Waaa, I hate lifting with my hurts." Shut up and start squatting. You're not going achieve athletic success and jump out of the gym if you keep lifting like a body builder in the 8 -15 rep range. This can be helpful to beginners to build a base and for others sparingly, but this causes hypertrophy (size and mass), whic is not our primary goal. Stop reading the "Muscle and Fiction" magazines and lift heavy for LOW REPS. This activates the most fast-twitch muscle fibers (what you want), gets you stronger, faster, and more explosive, and *gasp* can even put some meat on you.

4. USE PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD. What this means is that you should try to set a new PR (personal record) every time you step in the gym. There are numerous ways you can do this, but the idea is to get stronger and make progress every week. Jason Ferrugia explains it really well on his blog. Read under the post "The Single Most Important Factor."

5. USE BIG, COMPOUND LIFTS. Stop doing 15 set of concentration curls. Do DEADLIFTS, SQUATS, BENCH PRESS, MILITARY PRESS, PULL/CHIN-UPS, ROWS, and all their variations. If 80% of your training sessions aren't comprimised of compount lifts, you're wasting your time.

6. STRENGTHEN THE POSTERIOR CHAIN. This is basically your backside (most important: hamstring and butt). It's more complicated than that, but you MUST have brutally strong glutes and hamstrings if you want to run and jump as fast as you possibly can. Stop worrying about what you see in the mirrow and do more deadlifts, glute-ham raises, RDL's, pull-throughs, kettlebells/DB swings, etc.....not to mention chin-ups, pull-ups, and row variations, which everyone could use more of.

7. START DOING A DYNAMIC WARM-UP AND MOBILITY DRILLS. There's an endless amount of these drills out there. My favorites are leg swings, butt kicks, high knees, warrior lunges, sumo squats, and stuff like that for a dynamic warm-up. Bird-dogs, fire hydrants, x-band walks, hurdle drills (step-overs, duck-unders), etc. are great too for mobility. Look these and others up online to learn what they are and their purpose.

8. ACTIVATE THE GLUTES. Most of us sit on our butts all day which a) gives us horrible posture (another seperate issue) and b) can cause something called "glute amnesia". Basically your butt shuts down and stops working which sucks because it's one of the biggest, strongest muscles we have! When you train, most people's glutes don't do much and the surrounding mucles take over, which can lead to imbalances, poor form, and a weak athlete. Look up glute activation drills and start using them in your warm-up as well.

9. LIFT EXPLOSIVELY. Along with lifting heavy, you need to be able to apply your strength quickly (Rate of Force Development). This is why I love the Westide template. While they are power lifters, training this way allows you to get stronger and more explosive simultaneously, all year round! A lot of trainers do different phases (strength, explosive, mass) where they foucus all their attention on only one of those aspects. Why not improve them all at once? Joe Defranco set up a great program called "Westside for Skinny Bastards". I have/am using this template. It works great. Also, read Joe's sample 6 week vertical jump program, his "Fabulous 15" exercises for improving your hops, and Joe's dirty tricks for a higher vert. This brings me to my next point:

10. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Read all you can about how to improve yourself athletically. There's a lot of great information on the internet (and a lot of crap), at Border's/Barnes and Noble, and at the library. Read everthing that pertains to your sport/training or interests you at They have hundreds of articles written by the smartest trainers in the world on their site. They are straight to the point, easy to read/understand, and funny. You can most likely learn more from this site than most college classes can teach you. Use this to your advantage. If you read all you can on sites like this, you will be ahead of 99% of your opponents. When you train, you will now know what you are doing, why you are doing it, how to do it correctly, and what to expect. You will have a knowledge and a purpose and will make better gains because of it. I also recomend reading the blogs/articles/websites of Eric Cressey, Joe DeFranco, Jason Ferruggia, Zach Even-Esh, Alwyn Crosgrove, Mike Robertson, Tony Gentlicore, and Jimmy Smith.,, and all have helped me too.

More to come..........

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