Training methods including heavy resistance training, explosive resistance training, plyometrics, electrostimulation, and even vibration platforms have all been used to potentially enhance vertical jump (or vertical leap) performance. But which ones have been proven to be the most effective?
Another thing that factors in is age. As we get older, our muscles get weaker and less springy. Most studies have shown that our highest jumping heights occur when we are in our 20s. In fact, the average jumping height for 20- to 29-year-olds is 20 inches. On average, our best jumping happens before we hit 30 years of age. After that, it slowly goes down by about three inches for each decade we age. Keep in mind this is a rough average but it gives you somewhere to start.
One more thing to keep in mind is that it has been shown that depending on what sport you play, the average vertical leap differs as well. Athletes in sports where jumping ability is an integral skill and is often tested, measured, and focused on (such as basketball, volleyball, or football) have higher scores on jump tests compared to athletes who don’t need to jump to perform (like distance runners, hockey players, or swimmers).
How Do We Jump?
The secret to jumping prowess, whether the jumper is human or otherwise, is rooted in basic physics. Increase your power-to-weight ratio and you will jump higher—it’s pure science!
Let’s break this down a little further. First, what is power?
Power = Force x Velocity
- Force is the maximum amount of strength that you have.
- Velocity is the maximum amount of speed that you have.
Increase your power-to-weight ratio and you will jump higher—it is pure science!
When you find a way to increase your strength and your velocity in relation to your body weight, then your vertical jump will improve.
Let’s break this down even farther.
The most important strength components, when we’re talking vertical jump, are exercises like the back squat, front squat, calf raise, and deadlift. If you are able to increase the amount of weight that you can effectively lift in these exercises, you increase your strength. If you keep your body weight relatively the same (or lower), you will increase your power to weight ratio.
Velocity is the speed at which you move. In this case, the speed at which you perform your vertical jump. And that is pretty darn fast! Most vertical jumps take a mere 0.2 seconds to execute. When you have some super quick velocity, you can use your strength maximally.