Your coach says "jump." You ask "how high?" Band exercise takes you even higher. Jump training requires a special type of power band, the kind the big boys use in the barbell room. They're long, circular in shape and able to withstand heavy loads. The elastic nature of these bands benefits vertical jump training. To illustrate, stretch an elastic band to its full length, then quickly let go. Boing! It snaps back to its original size. The "boing factor" is what we're after in the vertical jump.
Try this. Sit on a chair and place one end of a band under your foot and the other on top of your shoulder. Straighten your arm and stand up, then bend your arm and sit back down. During your descent -- called the eccentric phase of the movement -- the band's elastic nature forcefully attempts to contract back to its original size, which makes you drop down much faster than if you were doing it without the band. This is called accelerating gravity. Acceleration during the eccentric phase enhances your ability to transfer kinetic energy back into an explosive upward movement. The faster the descent, the more power the rise. A powerful rise yields a higher vertical jump.
The Strength Component
Norwegian researchers found a strong correlation between maximum squat strength and vertical jump height in elite soccer players. A Greek research team discovered that increasing hamstring and quad strength in women aged 53 to 69 improved their vertical jump height. Meanwhile, exercise scientists in North Carolina learned that performing squats with bands increases force and power during the early portions of the eccentric phase and latter portions of the concentric phase of the exercise. This is exactly what you need for a strong and powerful vertical jump.
Barbells and Bands
Combing the barbell rack with power bands creates a squat variation that simulates vertical jump movements. Don't fear the meatheads in the weight room! Walk in as if you own the place, and secure the end of your bands to the bottom of each side of the squat rack. Attach the other ends to both sides of the barbell. Pull up a bench, rest the barbell on your shoulders, and have a seat. Straighten your legs and stand up, then bend your knees quickly and sit back down. Returning to the seated position makes you bend your knees. Women need this. We tend to land from jumps with straight legs, which may trigger the devastating popping sound that informs us of a newly torn ACL.
Bells and Bands
Kettlebell swinging is a form of power training that becomes even more powerful when performed in conjunction with bands. The movement, however, is a bit obscene, so perhaps you should save it for the privacy of your own home. Place the band under your feet and assume a squat position. Hold the other part of the band, along with the kettlebell, with both hands. Begin with the bell and band at chest height. As you perform the squat, swing the kettlebell under your legs, then swing it forward to return to the standing position. This ain't no yoga class -- go for speed and momentum, which will have a direct transfer of training to your vertical leap. Your inner kangaroo goddess awaits!
- VerticalJumping.com: Band Training for Explosive Vertical Gains
- ResistanceBandTraining.com: How to Use Resistance Bands to Improve Vertical Jump
- Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness; Resistance Training in Older Women: Effect on Vertical Jump and Functional Performance; V.I. Kalapotharakos et al.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; Kinetic and Kinematic Differences Between Squats Performed With and Without Elastic Bands; M.A. Israetel et al.
- British Journal of Sports Medicine; Strong Correlation of Maximal Squat Strength with Sprint Performance and Vertical Jump Height in Elite Soccer Players; U. Wisløff et al.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.