How To Jump Higher: The 5-Step Process I Used To Develop A 40+ Inch Vertical Leap

In this post I’m going to show you the proven process of how to jump higher that I’ve learned from a lifetime of research.

I’ve trained thousands of average athletes who added 8, 12, 15… and a few even 20 inches to their vertical leap by using the training principles in this post.

We have testimonials from hundreds of them about their experience… you can check them out here if you like.

I have spent the majority of my life researching, testing, and improving these strategies…

…even monitoring muscle activity with special equipment to measure the effect of each exercise.

Using these principles, I was able to take my own 2-foot running vertical from 19 inches to 44 inches

Jacob Hiller 40 inch vertical leap - how to jump higher

Since then I’ve been able to train Amateur, Pro and even Olympic level athletes all around the world…

Organizations like ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Men’s health, Fadaway Magazine, etc have all reached out to me wanting to learn my methods…

And over 70,000 people have used my programs to gain significant amounts on their vertical leap.

I don’t say that to brag.

I say that so you know I’m not just regurgitating something I heard or read online about how to jump higher…

After reading this you’ll likely know more than 90% of other athletes and even most trainers on the subject.

Ok, let’s dive in…

THE HOW TO JUMP HIGHER FORMULA: S X Q = E

Jumping higher is a simple formula.

There are 2 things you must have… Strength and Quickness.

Strength gives you the ability to overcome your own body weight.

Quickness allows you to do it fast.

You must have both.

In the lab we call this “rate of force” development…

It’s how FAST you can use your strength.

Check out this guy:
how to jump higher

He can squat a ton of weight… but he can only do it very slowly.

That’s not going to make him jump 40+ inches high.

Strength and quickness combined equals explosiveness.

Add strength and quickness to the muscles used when jumping, and you WILL jump higher.

Period.

So how do you add the right type of strength and quickness?

#1 TRAIN IN THE IMPROVEMENT ZONE

The first step is that you must train in the “Improvement Zone”.

 

The Improvement Zone - Train Smart

If you train below that, you’re not going to see the improvement you want.

Probably the single biggest mistake I see athletes make when trying to jump higher is that they train in the endurance zone.

If you were a sprinter training for the 100M dash, is running a marathon going to help you?

Of course not.

Running long distance trains your endurance.

And training that way will actually make your 100M time slower.

The same is true for jumping higher.

Lets say you have a 20 inch vertical leap right now and you want to increase it to 30 inches…

So you start by jumping rope for several minutes a day.

Does Jumping Rope Increase Vertical Leap

That means you’ll be jumping a couple inches off the ground several hundred times.

What are you training your body to do??

You’re training it to jump a couple inches high over a long period of time.

You’re training your jumping ENDURANCE.

And your body adapts itself to that goal.

So your max vertical leap isn’t going to go from 20” to 30” like you hope…

Because your body thinks you want to jump low over a long period of time.

(NOTE: Some may actually see a small improvement on their vertical at first from jumping rope but then that’s it… and it may start decreasing after that. I shot a video explaining this in detail here)

Jumping high to dunk (or spike, or whatever your sport has you do) is NOT an endurance movement…

It’s an INTENSE, explosive movement.

So don’t train in the Endurance Zone…

…Train in the Improvement Zone.

That means: High intensity. Low reps.

If you’re doing more than 8-10 reps, your intensity is too low.

Just knowing this is going to help you weed out the vast majority of bad advice out there about how to jump higher.

#2 TRAIN FOR STRENGTH, NOT FOR SIZE

How to jump higher - training for the right type of muscle growth

There are 2 different types of muscle growth…

One increases strength…

The other simply increases muscle size.

When you train with low weight and high repetitions, you’ll feel your muscles burning…

What’s happening is your muscle is being depleted of all its fuel sources.

Your body then stores more fuel in your muscles so that it can handle more repetitions next time…

That’s called Sarcoplasmic muscle growth.

It makes your muscles bigger…

…but not necessarily any stronger.

On the other hand, Sarcomeric muscle growth builds strength… not just size…

It’s done by overloading your muscles. 

When you overload your muscles using a heavy weight, you create small micro-tears in them…

…your body then builds that muscle back up stronger than before so it can handle the heavy weight next time.

Research has shown that the optimal amount of resistance for gaining strength is 85% of your 1 Rep Maximum.

That means if you can lift 100 pounds 1 time and no more, 100 pounds is your 1 rep maximum.

So to train for optimum strength gains you need to train against 85 pounds.

And again… No more than 8 reps.

Of course you’ll need to focus on the muscles that are used for jumping..

…and train with the same joint angles you use when jumping (but that’s another discussion entirely). 

#3 TEACH YOUR BODY TO USE STRENGTH EXPLOSIVELY

Even if you train perfectly for strength…

You still need to be able to use that strength FAST.

So how do you do that?

You’ve probably heard of the term fast-twitch muscle fiber.

That’s referring to Type II muscle fibers.

Type II fibers naturally fire FASTER than Type I fibers (slow-twitch).

Some people are born with more fast-twitch fibers than others…

…so those people are naturally quicker and more explosive.

Unfortunately you can’t increase the amount of fast-twitch fibers you were born with.

BUT…

You can teach your slow-twitch muscle fibers to act like fast-twitch.

How?

By sending a stronger neural signal to them.

You see, in order to use a muscle…

…your body sends an electric impulse through it so that it contracts.

That electric impulse comes from your central nervous system…

And the stronger that impulse is to your muscles…

…the FASTER your muscles will fire

…and thus the more explosive you become.

In Russia in the 1950’s and 60’s they developed something called “Shock Training” to do just that.

The principle behind shock training is…

Jump off a box…

And when you land… your muscles get a “shock”

That shock sends a STRONGER than normal impulse through the muscles…

How to jump higher - shock training example

And as you systematically increase that impulse over time by jumping off higher and higher boxes…

…it re-teaches your nervous system to send a stronger impulse to your muscles naturally.

That stronger impulse makes your muscles fire FASTER…

Which in turn makes you QUICKER…

…and MORE EXPLOSIVE.

This might be the first time you’ve ever heard of this concept…

Why?

Because over the years, Shock training has been changed…

…and it morphed into something that you likely have heard of…

Plyometrics.

Along the way, it’s purpose changed.

You may have seen programs here in the U.S. (like P90X, etc) use plyo’s as a cardio workout…

In those workouts they have you do literally thousands of plyometric repetitions…

…but they’re all at low intensity…

That’s fine if you just want to lose weight and get a good cardio in…

But it won’t help you jump higher because the shock it’s sending to your muscles is TOO LOW…

…it’s actually training your system to send a very low, weak impulse to your muscles.

Unfortunately…

…the majority of what you see online or in programs about plyometrics is not teaching you to become more explosive.

I even see coaches, college athletes, professional athletes using plyometrics where the intensity is so low that it’s not teaching their muscles to jump higher at all.

There are very specific ways to use shock training correctly for jumping higher…

…including when to do it in relation to your strength training.

#4 GAINS DON’T HAPPEN IN THE GYM

So now that you know how to properly train for strength…

And you know how to teach your body to use that strength FAST…

Here’s where it can go all wrong.

Lot’s of athletes work super hard in the gym…

…they may even be training in the Improvement Zone…

They may even be doing some of the right exercises… with the right weight ratio…

But they just don’t seem to be jumping higher.

There are 2 reasons for that:

First, gains on your vertical leap don’t come in the gym…

They’re INITIATED in the gym.

If you’re training the right way, your muscles will break down…

And they need time to rebuild.

If you never rest to let your muscles repair, all you’re going to do is continue to break down your muscles

And you’ll never see gains.

In fact, you’ll see your vertical go down and down, and never come back up.

Second, your muscles need FUEL to rebuild.

So even if you do rest enough…

…if you’re not giving them the right fuel, they won’t be able to rebuild.

You must rest AND give your muscles the right fuel to RECOVER.

That’s when you get your gains.

I go over this in more detail in a free video training and workbook you can get here

But DO NOT skip recovery

…if you do, you’ll never see the results you want.

#5 GET YOUR MOVEMENT EFFICIENCY RIGHT

This final step in the how to jump higher process is often overlooked…

…and it will allow you to jump anywhere from 2 – 6 inches higher immediately.

It’s called movement efficiency.

Having good movement efficiency is like greasing the wheels

The less resistance you have, the more available power you’ll be able to use.

For example… technique is HUGE for track and field athletes.

Simple technique tweaks can be the difference between placing and winning for them.

And it can make a BIG difference for you.

How you plant, how you approach, how flexible you are, how you use your arms, etc..

…these all contribute to a higher vertical when done right.

I’ve trained tons of athletes who added several inches to their vertical immediately, just by improving their movement efficiency.

I don’t have time to go into all the ways to do it here… but suffice it to say it’s VERY important.

So lets recap…

We’ve gone over the entire 5-step process of how to jump higher…

If you take proper strength training like we talked about…

…making sure to train in the “Improvement Zone“…

And couple that with the ability to fire your muscles faster using shock training

(all the while ensuring that you recover properly by giving the right rest and fuel to your body)

Then combine those with proper technique and movement efficiency…

You get something I call “Complex Explosion Training”.

There is absolutely no other practice under the sun that will increase your explosive power better (or faster) than the CORRECT implementation of these principles…

Period.

Ok…

SO WHAT EXERCISES SHOULD YOU DO?

Well, if you want maximum results there’s a lot of different exercises you should do…

And the sequence you do them in matters a lot.

I’ve researched and tested just about every exercise you can think of to find out which one’s are effective…

And which are not…

I even hooked myself and other athletes to special equipment to monitor muscle activity…

…and then re-engineered exercises from that research.

Through that research I developed a program for myself that got my vertical leap above 40 inches.

When so many people were asking me what I was doing and if I could train them…

Eventually I wrote everything down and shot videos for a 12-week blueprint that lays everything out for athletes to follow…

…what to do each day, step-by-step.

It includes training on every aspect…

…form, movement efficiency, nutrition, proper shock training, etc in an easy to follow program.

I’ve had athletes add 15+ inches to their vertical leap using that protocol.

You can check it out here if you like.

Or…

If you first want to test out these concepts for yourself on a smaller scale…

There’s one exercise from our program that incorporates training in the Improvement Zone, Joint-Angle-Specific Strength Training, Shock Training and Movement Efficiency all into one

It’s very simple and will only take you around 10 min 2-3 times a week.

Of course, it’s not a comprehensive program, but if you could only do one exercise, this is the one to do

I’ve had athletes gain several inches on their vertical over a few weeks from doing just this one exercise.

You can grab it here for free if you like:

I hope this has helped you understand the foundation of how to jump higher…

…and realize that it IS possible for you.

Knowing what you know now is more than half the battle…

(what I would have given to know this back in jr high and high school!)

There’s obviously more I can go into than this short article…

But now you know the basics…

In fact, you probably now know more than 90% of other athletes and most trainers and coaches on the subject.

If this was helpful for you go ahead and share it with somebody you think might benefit from it.

And let me know your progress from implementing this…

I always love hearing it.

 

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Jacob Hiller is considered one of the most sought after vertical jump trainers in the world. He has been sought out by organizations such as ESPN, Men's Health, Fadeaway Magazine and others to learn his methods. Jacob has trained athletes in over 43 different countries around the world at Amateur, Collegiate, Professional, NBA and Olympic levels.