Hello Vertical jump zone readers!
This is Jacob Hiller, and I’m writing to you from Rwanda.
Recently I was training with a professional team here, and they have some real beasts out here!
The court we were training on had all the rims highered to 10’6” because they had been ripped down to many times. But… they were still dunking on them.
The coach had invited me in to help the team do some strength training despite the fact that they didn’t have regular access to a great weight room.
This wasn’t a problem as I often help teams use bodyweight exercises to build stability, strength and explosiveness.
Before starting the session I asked the team who was their highest jumper, and they point to strong looking guard (6’4”) from the Congo; Mike…
This is the same guy I saw doing 2 handed reverse jams on the 10’6” rim.
I then asked who was the quickest, and once again they pointed to Mike.
I then proceeded to go through a series of athletic assessments in which Mike was the clear winner of all of them.
This kid is raw athleticism; maybe I’ll get you a video soon.
I then showed the team how to add a 15 – 30 minute body weight strength program to help them improve athleticism and prevent injury.
Here is one of the exercise implementations I showed them, and one any athlete or team can do … anywhere.
The first series that we do… is a combination of single leg pistol squats, AND depth jumps.
I rarely have any athlete do any strength work without coupling it with sport specific explosive movements.
I have always found that the strength work potentiates muscle recruitment and increases performance of the sport specific movement. Over time this effectively retrains the movement to be performed at higher rates of recruitment.
Moreover, coupling strength movements with faster explosive movements continues to train our body for speed, rather than strength alone.
Why single leg squats?
I love single leg squats because they target strength, and stability so well. Single leg squats are completely unsupported, unlike split squats or lunges. A single leg squats thus recruits stability in the very same way that would be required during a single leg take off.
Single leg squats also require a great deal of strength in the prime movers of the hips and quads.
It was interesting to note that Mike (from above) was the only athlete who could perform the single leg pistol squat. Coincidence? No.
So if you can’t do the pistol squat right away you should rely on a pole, or chair to help you… but not too much! The goal is to eventually do multiple reps of unsupported single leg squats.
They are so great because you can do them anywhere, and anytime. Your proficiency in this exercise WILL carry over to your vertical and to a more stable base for injury prevention… less knee pain, less ankle injuries etc.
A stable base prevents “torque” during athletic movements, and energy leaks during your takeoff. A stable base is lie bouncing an overfilled basketball as opposed to bouncing a flat ball.
Couple 4 – 8 reps of single leg squats (assisted if needed) with a set of 4 depth jumps.
Depth jumps should be done properly aligning the joints in the same direction during landing.
The “landing” or amortization phase of the depth jump should have you bending your body at the same position you would during a vertical jump take off; knees and hips slightly bent, with arms in position to explode.
Land on the balls of your feet, and focus on the reversal speed, and height of the jump.
After the jump land in a perfect position – as if it were a shock drop.
You should choose the height that generates the highest jump.
- You should do about 25 – 30 repetitions of each exercise.
- Each done in sets between 4 – 8.
- 1 set of pistols followed by one set of depth jumps…
- Then repeat until the number of reps is satisfied.
Once you have mastered the pistol squat you can easily add some weight with a backpack, rock or bricks etc. With single leg movements a little weight goes a long way.
This is just one of the “series” I use with athletes who want to add some strength, stability, and explosiveness to their training program… with little time, and no weights.
If you have questions please let me know (in the comments section below).
You can also check out my blog on how to jump higher.
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