Vertical leap

  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Jun 20, 2007 5:38 PM GMT
    I'd like some advice on how to improve my vertical leap. I play volleyball recreationally, and I've got my timing down on blocking (so that I can block guys who are a good 4 inches taller than me), but I think an extra inch or two of a vertical leap would let me spike the ball with much more of a downward angle, rather than having to rely on either tip shots or spikes either right at the back line along my side or massively cross-court diagonals.

    I have to admit I'm not event sure what muscles from the leg, rear, and back are most involved in a vertical leap, so I'm not even sure what I should be primarily targeting.

    As it is, I'm far stronger in my lower body than in my upper body, to the point where if I want to challenge my legs I basically have to use machines rather than free weights, as my upper body can't take me holding enough weight to really work my legs hard enough in lunging or squats--my shoulders or arms always give out well before my legs do. I know that machines are in general not as good at isolating a muscle or forcing you to do all the work yourself, rather than relying on the machine to give you some help, but it seems to me that even taking that into account I'm probably doing a better job, say, working my quadriceps with 400 pounds on a leg press than I would be with lunges at 25 pound dumbbells in each hand given that I'm only about 150 myself. Or, for that matter, 280 pounds for a one legged calf raise compared to the 45 pounds I can manage to hold when trying to do them on a set of stairs. At the very least, the machines make it so that I feel the strain in my legs, which I can't manage to do with free weights.

    This is probably a result of some combination of my long-term lifestyle (I only learned how to drive at the age of 25, having previously walked basically everywhere in my life, including the grocery store), the sports I've primarily been involved in (for instance, 4 years on the college fencing team meant a *lot* of lunging), and some genetics (my Dad was a sprinter and high jumper when he was young, with legs much larger than his upper body would predict). Given that my upper body is so much weaker in comparison to my lower body, I've paid more attention at the gym to the chest/arms/shoulders/back than the legs and rear, but I now have a good reason to try to build some further lower body strength.

    Any advice?
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    Jun 20, 2007 6:30 PM GMT
    You could try a trampoline (my parents probably aren't using ours anymore is you feel like lugging it back to MI)
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    Jun 20, 2007 7:17 PM GMT
    If I were in that situation, I'm quite certain that my trainer would take me upstairs to the big empty room where they have stacks of folding mats and a large foam block. And, he'd have me squat down and jump up on the block, squat down and jump up and off the block to the other side, squat down and jump up and twist around to again face the block, squat down and jump up on the block, squat down and jump up off the block, jump and twist to turn around, etc. etc. It's an amazingly grueling exercise, but it does wonders for developing the kind of explosive strength needed for jumping.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Jun 20, 2007 10:46 PM GMT
    The trampoline would be fun--actually, I've got one in storage that's the same size as yours, if you remember the one we got when I was in high school--but my yard doesn't have a fence. I think I'd be legally required to either put in a fence or assume all responsibility and damages if one of the neighborhood kids hurt him/herself on it, because I think a trampoline like a pool falls under the category of "attractive nuisance". I hate that our legal system states that I would be financially responsible for injuries caused by someone who was trespassing on my property and using my stuff without my permission.
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    Jun 22, 2007 10:29 PM GMT
    I spoke to my trainer about this, and he said the jumping exercise would only be part of it. He would focus on squats with heavy weight and low reps, making sure to really explode off the bottom. Also, work out the hamstrings and calves at medium weight and rep count. And, finally, work on core strength.

    And, while the trampoline may be fun, it doesn't take much energy to jump on one, and the trampoline stores and releases a significant amount of that energy. A trampoline doesn't really challenge the muscles very much.
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Jun 24, 2007 6:34 AM GMT
    Thanks Paradox. That's quite helpful. And, yeah, I know that the trampoline doesn't build a large amount of muscle. It gets you a bit of stabilization, but it's primarily a cardio thing. Doublebassist was my best friend in high school--I've roped him into this site recently--and we each had a trampoline at the time.