Last week I received a letter from a parent concerned about how her daughters, who play volleyball, should train in order to improve their vertical jump.
Among Her Queries:
- Does weightlifting help improve your vertical jump?
- Does jumping help to improve your vertical jump?
- Should lifting and jumping be done on different days, or on the same days?
Lifting Weights To Improve Vertical Jump
Lifting weights can definitely contribute to the improvement of a person's vertical jump. Jumping is a power movement, and strength is a component of power. The primary areas to look at when trying to improve your vertical are the quads, hips, glutes and calves. There are several lifts that work these particular areas. I consider squats and lunges to be two of the best. Others would be the leg press and hack squat. Incorporating calf raises is also important.
However, if you want to get the full picture you should also include some ballistic lifts. These are the two Olympic competition lifts - the power clean and the snatch - and they are more specific to jumping than the previously mentioned lifts. (That doesn't mean the other lifts aren't important.)
For the volleyball players' age group, I recommend a clean movement, but I would not recommend the power clean. Instead, it would be better to perform the hang clean. This involves performing the lift from the power position - the same position you would jump from.
There are a few reasons I prefer the hang clean to the power clean. One is that the technique is easier to learn. Second, it is safer - mainly because it is easier to learn. Third, the hang clean is more specific to jumping than the power clean from the standpoint that it is performed in the position from which you jump.
Jumping To Improve Vertical Jump
Jumping, in and of itself, can help improve your vertical jump because it is as specific as you can get. Plyometrics for the lower body are good techniques to use.
Plyometrics are exercises that work on speed, quickness and power. Plyometrics such as resisted jumping, assisted jumping and depth jumps can all help to improve your vertical jump, but it is extremely important that an athlete have the proper strength base before engaging in the types of plyometrics mentioned above.
A guideline for this strength base would be for a male to be able to squat his body weight eight times; for a female, 70 percent of her body weight 10 times. If the person is unable to squat, then he or she should be able to leg press 1 1/2 times his or her body weight eight times. When performing depth jumps, a safe rule to follow is never jump off a box that is higher than your vertical.
When Should I Perform This?
As far as when you should perform these routines, the ideal situation would be to warm up and stretch, then perform your plyometrics, followed by weightlifting for the lower body.
Warm-up & stretch before performing plyometrics.
Executing your plyometrics before you lift is advisable because these are all-out efforts; therefore you want to perform them while your legs are fresh, not worn out from lifting.
Every so often you can incorporate your plyometrics while you lift, and sometimes after you lift. This will allow you to recruit muscle fibers you may not have used but, for the most part, stay with the pattern of performing them before you lift.
If you are on a 3-day split (lifting every body part three days a week, such as Monday, Wednesday and Friday), I would suggest performing your lower body plyometrics on Monday and Friday before lifting. I feel you should do plyometrics on the same day that you lift your lower body to give you the best recovery. If you are doing something with your legs every day, then your body won't make the adaptations as effectively as it would when you rest the legs for a day or two.
Performing plyometrics twice a week, even if you lift your legs three times a week, is enough. Remember quality, not quantity, is what counts.
Also remember that training the rest of the body is important. When you jump to spike the ball you are using more than your legs. If your abdominals or other parts of your upper body are weak, you won't transfer the power your legs have generated as effectively.