3 Quick & Easy Exercises to Improve Your Jumping

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I’m convinced there’s a small conspiracy surrounding jumping.

When I watch other people jump (on skates or off) there’s a beautiful fluidity to it. The way their body coils up like a spring and then explodes into action. Up, forward, sideways. Using all the power they have to get over and around things. And recovering as though they were never flying in the first place.

But when I try to jump, I feel like a slug. A snail. Something meant to stay on the ground. Something that is designed specifically for the purpose of sticking to the soil. Slugs don’t jump. And if they tried, they’d likely look silly.

SAME, slug, SAME.

Although unlike most mollusks, I want to fly. I wish I could jump in the way that I see some many others doing it. So, also unlike a mollusk, I practice. I focus on relaxing my shoulders away from my ears, making sure the only muscles tensing are the ones that will push me upward. I challenge myself with higher and higher boxes until I miss one and have to come back down again. A little. I work on my landing mechanics so I can flawlessly transition from flying to moving and I can gather up all my power underneath me before I leap.

For a lot of folks that want to improve their jump height or distance, they think jumping is the thing:

I’ll just jump more, they think.

Which works, sometimes. But jumping isn’t just jumping (as I’ve said before). It’s landing. It’s coiling power. It’s getting your whole body to work together so none of that power leaks out.

How do we ensure that we aren’t just JUMPING

but we’re preparing our bodies to JUMP BETTER?

Well, I’m a personal trainer so, of course, I’m going to focus on exercises here. But also… that apex jump you want to do… you have to actually TRY IT. On-skates, at practice.

#1) SINGLE LEG, SIDE-TO-SIDE MED BALL SLAMS

This is one of my favorite exercises to work on landing mechanics and coiling up power underneath you. We can’t always spend lots of time mentally preparing from one landing to the next. Sometimes we just have to GO. This exercise helps you practice that: land, coil, spring back into action. (Plus, it gets your whole body involved which I love.)

Not only are you practicing good landing mechanics but you’re actually training your body to produce more force by asking your muscles to stretch suddenly with the impact of the slam and then produce force immediately as you swing the ball back up.

Side-to-side med ball slams are a low rep exercise and are best done early in your workout prior to heavy leg work (like squats or deads). I usually program these in 2 sets with 4-6 reps each. Spend the time focusing on doing them properly so that coil begins to happen automatically when you’re jumping elsewhere.

#2) BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUATS

Hey! Guess what a really important foundational aspect of jumping is.

STRENGTH. It’s strength.

And this strength exercise focuses on each leg individually so you can bring up your weak side (we all have one, right?). It’s also a good option because you need a good level of hip stability and control to execute it. Hip stability is always helpful for jumping. If raising up your back foot feels like too much, you can always start with a traditional split squat (or static lunge) with both feet on the ground until your stability improves.

As a strength-focused exercise, you want to do these relatively early in the workout and load them up. I usually program these in 3-4 sets with 6-8 reps each. Focus on keeping your hips square and pressing evenly through the front foot as you stand to top.

#3) KETTLEBELL SWINGS

Power exercises (think Olympic lifts and their ilk) are a great way to prepare your body for working as a unit as you execute a solid jump and landing. However, they can have a really steep learning curve which means you spend a lot of time in the early days learning HOW to do them rather than reaping the benefits of actually doing them.

That’s where kettlebell swings come in. You can get a lot of power from a less technical lift. AND you get to focus on driving the power from your hips which is ultimately where we want our jumping power to come from as well.

This is an exercise you can put anywhere in your workout. You can load it really heavy and place it before lower body strength. In that case, I would usually program these in 4-5 sets of 3 reps.  Or you can but it at the end as strength and cardio combo. (This my preferred placement.) IN that case, I would usually program 3-4 sets of 10 reps.

The goal, regardless of where it lands in your workout, is to keep every rep quick and snappy.

As you can probably tell, you can put all of these exercises together for a quick training day that helps you focus on jumping, landing, and getting stronger:


WHAT’S NEXT?

Spots are open in the Jumping January Challenge!

A 4-week training program (yes, you too can be a member of The Cephalopod Squad or Cuttlefish Crew!) that helps you maintain your off-season strength, improve your jumping mechanics, bring your in-season cardio up, and avoid burning out while doing it. There are now two different ways to participate in the challenge, as a member of the Cuttlefish Crew or a member of the Cephalopod Squad.

If you join the CUTTLEFISH CREW, the challenge includes:

  • 4-WEEK JUMP-FOCUSED TRAINING PROGRAM => Train 3 days a week with a program designed just for refining and improving your jump mechanics.. It will also rebuild your cardio and muscular endurance so that you’ll be ready to skate hard and turn left without gassing out at halftime.
  • A FANCY TRAINING APP => To deliver the program right to your phone. Or computer. You’ll have access to the program, exercise training videos, and more wherever you happen to be: in a gym, in your basement, or that tennis court across the street. Be a Cuttlefish.

If you join the CEPHALOPOD SQUAD, the challenge includes:

  • 4-WEEK JUMP-FOCUSED TRAINING PROGRAM => Train 3 days a week with a program designed just for refining and improving your jump mechanics.. It will also rebuild your cardio and muscular endurance so that you’ll be ready to skate hard and turn left without gassing out at halftime.
  • A FANCY TRAINING APP => To deliver the program right to your phone. Or computer. You’ll have access to the program, exercise training videos, and more wherever you happen to be: in a gym, in your basement, or that tennis court across the street.
  • KILLER COACHING => Access to a private coaching group that will specifically focus on toeing the line between reaching that rung and avoiding potential burnout. You can ask questions, post topics, and get coaching from me. Or just commiserate on how much rust you accumulated during the off-season with all of the other roller derby athletes in there.
  • MINDSET & LIFESTYLE TIPS => The coaching group doesn’t just focus on the physical part of training. We’ll also talk about how to set yourself up mentally for long-term season success and make sure that you’re eating, sleeping, and drinking enough (water!) for all of the hard work you put in.
  • OTHER THINGS => Inside jokes, GIFs galore, pictures of food, and lamentations about #broculture in the gym. We’ve built a little community that I think you’ll enjoy. Come. Be a Cephalopod.

I only open and run challenges 2 or 3 times a year, so if you’ve ever wanted to join the programs OR you want to improve your jumping (and your overall power), THIS IS THE TIME.

SIGN UP TO JOIN THE CHALLENGE HERE.

IronOctopusFitness

About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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