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How to Increase Vertical Jump

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

What Do Most Explosive Athletes Have in Common?

Whether you play basketball, football or any other power sport, the vertical jump is the ultimate indication of overall body power, more specifically lower body power. Most power sports require short and explosive movements and this is exactly what the vertical jump is. Keep in mind that you cannot jump slowly, you have to be explosive! You see, the athletes that jump the highest usually run the fastest, are the most explosive and are usually the most athletic.

BIG Vertical Jumps!

What else do athletes with big vertical jumps have in common? I would bet money that they have a high level of relative body strength, a low body fat level and a high rate of force development.

Let’s Get Serious

How many fat and out of shape athletes do you know with a 40 inch vertical jump? Not many. Chances are if you do know any fat and out of shape athletes that have a big vertical jump, they probably have a very high rate of force development.

When it comes to improving your vertical jump, most beginners, especially in high school, will improve their vertical jump by simply increasing their maximal strength and relative body strength. These increases in strength come through mastering basic bodyweight exercises like push up variations, pull ups, hand walking and rope climbing to name a few.

Big barbell exercises like squats, deadlifts and heavy pressing will help improve maximal strength. Strengthening the posterior chain is also critical to improving your vertical jump. Exercises like deadlift variations, glute ham raises, box squats, kettlebell swings and upright sled drags will build a strong and powerful posterior chain.

Don’t underestimate the role that strength plays in improving the vertical jump. Strength is the foundation upon which speed, power, agility and all other athletic abilities are built. If you want to see a serious improvement in your vertical jump start moving some serious weight!

While beginners should focus on getting stronger, advanced athletes need to dig a bit deeper.

First off, the athlete needs to determine where they are on the absolute strength to absolute speed continuum. Here is a great video Eric Cressey did describing this continuum.

In a nutshell, if you are more explosive than you are strong, you need to focus on maximal strength, however if you are stronger than you are explosive, you need to focus on reactive training. In order to optimize your performance and to maximize your vertical jump you should fall in the middle of the absolute strength to absolute speed continuum.

While maximal strength is an important component of increasing your vertical jump, athletes who already have a solid foundation of maximal strength should focus on improving rate of force development. This is where reactive training comes in-various jumps, sprinting, and medicine ball throws. For the purpose of this article, let’s focus on the jumping aspect as that will have the most carry over to the vertical jump. Check out my top 10 jumping exercises below to help improve your vertical jump.

Vertical Jump

  • Start in an athletic position and the hands locked out overhead
  • Explosively whip your arms down and jump as high as you can
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Reset and repeat

Here is a great video by Joe DeFranco

Box Jump (onto Tires)

  • Start in an athletic position and the hands locked out overhead
  • Explosively whip your arms down and jump as high as you can
  • Tuck your knees in to ensure you clear the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Weighted Box Jump

  • Start in an athletic position and the hands locked out overhead
  • Explosively whip your arms down and jump as high as you can
  • Tuck your knees in to ensure you clear the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Box Squat into Box Jump

  • Start in an athletic position and perform a box squat
  • Explosively jump out of the hole and onto the bigger box
  • Tuck your knees in to ensure you clear the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Static Box Squat into Box Jump

  • Start by sitting on a 12 inch box
  • Explosively jump out of the hole and onto the bigger box
  • Tuck your knees in to ensure you clear the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Squat Jump into Box Jump

  • Hold 10lb dumbbells at your side
  • Perform a squat jump
  • As you are landing release the dumbbells and jump onto the box
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Broad Jump

  • Start in an athletic position and the hands locked out overhead
  • Explosively whip your arms down and jump as far as you can
  • Land in an athletic position and without any rest immediately go into the next broad jump

Squat Jump into Broad Jump

  • Hold 10lb dumbbells at your side
  • Perform a squat jump
  • As you are landing release the dumbbells and jump as far as you can
  • Land in an athletic position and immediately go into your next broad jump

Heavy Sled Drags

  • Load a sled up with maximal weight
  • Lean forward and drive with your legs
  • Apply as much force to the ground as possible
  • Drag the sled for 10 yards
  • Rest to you are fully recovered and go again

Depth Jumps

  • Start by standing tall on a 12 inch box
  • Step off the 12 inch box and immediately perform a box jump
  • Land in an athletic position
  • Step down and repeat

Putting it All Together

There you have it, a list of my top 10 favorite jumping exercises to help improve your vertical jump.

This article wouldn’t be complete without me telling you how to implement jumps into your training. Start performing jumps on your lower body days directly after your warm up and right before your main exercise. This is important because it will prime your central nervous system for the workout and because your body is not yet fatigued.

Start with the most basic progression of a jump and progress each week or two to a harder variation. It may even take as long as 3 weeks before your athletes really start getting good at certain jumps.

Here is a sample progression I use with my athletes:

  • Week 1-Box Jump with a running start
  • Week 2-Box jump from a static position
  • Week 3-Box Squat into Box Jump
  • Week 4-Static Box Squat into Box Jump
  • Week 5-repeat week 2 with a higher box

You have a couple different options here. You can either progress each week to a harder exercise like the example above or you can pick one exercise and perform it week after week but alter the volume and intensity (see chart below). If you have the equipment for this option then go for it, if not stick with the example I provided above. I have had success with both options in the past.

For bounding exercises, perform no more than 3 jumps per set. Make sure you are getting full recovery and then repeat for 3-5 sets. If you are just starting to incorporate jumping into your program start with minimal volume and slowly increase the volume each week. For example, you can do 3 X 3 of broad jumps week 1, 4 X 3 week 2 and 5 X 3 week 3.

It is important to closely measure your volume and intensity. In order to do this I adhere to Prilepin’s Table. For example, say your 1 rep max box jump is 40 inches and all you have is a 36 inch box, you should perform around 5-7 singles for that workout. If your goal is to improve rate of force development, I do not recommend you jump below 70 percent of your 1 rep max.

I hope you enjoyed my top 10 jumping exercises to increase your vertical. Start by implementing a handful of these techniques into your training, or your athletes’ training, they will be come more explosive and start leaping higher and higher.

Of course, if you have any questions about this article, please leave a comment below and I’d be glad to address them and possibly do a follow-up sometime down the road. Make sure you head over to my website, and sign up for my newsletter to receive 3 FREE gifts including a 4 free week program, my performance nutrition manual and an awesome interview with EliteFTS Athlete, Chad Smith.


Joe Meglio

Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at Zach Even-Esh’s underground strength gym. Joe is a former college baseball player and has competed in powerlifting and written for many national magazines and online websites including, and and Today’s Man to name a few. Joe is giving away a FREE 4 week training program and a FREE performance nutrition manual. Claim your FREE Gifts. For more information on Joe Meglio and his unique training methods, check out

Highlights from USA Powerlifting Competition

Friday, August 26th, 2011


I hope you are kicking ass so hard in the gym that the PR’s are paying you to take it easy on them.

First off, I am sorry for starting the earthquake earlier this week. I was working Two Hands Pinch using some black-hat, ninja-style, Outlaw-Diesel methods of training and it accidentally slipped out of my grasp.

The weight was so tremendous that it set off a tectonic plate collision in the Richmond, Virginia area. Jay DeMayo tried to take the credit, but he is not the one to blame.

Sorry, Washington Monument

My bad about the damage to the Washington Monument. I’ve heard they’ve been looking for a reason to shut that thing down anyway, so I guess I did them a favor.

(In all seriousness, I hope everyone is safe and that damages can be taken care of soon.)

Anyway, I wanted to share a video with you guys that I took last Saturday in Scranton PA at the USA Powerlifting Nationals.

I went down to watch my buddies, Paul Tompkins and Mike Turpin compete. Paul and Mike have submitted a lot of videos to my Weekly Grip Challenge, so i wanted to go down and give them some support!

Speaking of the weekly challenge – have you entered the Classic Strongman Feats Tournament? If not, get on it!

Back to the Powerlifting Meet…here is the video…

According to Paul, he lifted 451 in the Bench, 644 in the Squat and 655 in the Deadlift, totaling 1750.

Mike got 358 in the Bench, 391 in the Squat and 557 in the Deadlift, totaling 1306. Awesome job guys.

I also wanted to mention that Mike Turpin is developing some of the nastiest forearms I’ve ever seen. He showed me his freaky Brachioradialis and I had nightmares for two straight nights. According to Mike, he has done no direct forearm work from this. It has all come from Grip Training, like Gripper work, Pinching, and lifting Hex Head Dumbbells by the Head.

So there’s yet another reason to start Grip Training if you haven’t already done so. The time under tension packs serious muscles on your lower arms!

Also, Mike told me that several months ago, Paul attempted a near-600-lb Deadlift and could get it nowhere near lockout. Judging by the fact that I watched him pull 659 with EEEEEASE, the Grip Training must be paying off.

Mind you, these guys are doing a variety of stuff. They are trying the challenges I put out each week and they are doing some other stuff on their own. Hitting the hands from multiple angles like this has improved their General Grip Strength tremendously.

Mike says he used to not be able to close a #1 Gripper, and now he is mashing the #2 each workout. Also, between his lifts and Paul’s there was about a two-hour break in the action, so Turpin, another buddy of mine, Mike Puchalski, and I went out to my car and did some work with the Vulcan-2 that I had for Puchalski. If memory serves, Mike toyed with the Level 10 like he was reading a newspaper on the toilet, and that is with the new Silver Black-Dipped Spring. AWESOME. I can’t wait to see what he can do at World’s Strongest Hands on September 10th. If you are in the neighborhood, you should come by. It is going to be a good time.

Who Wants a Vulcan 2 Gripper?

Speaking of Vulcans, I am completely sold out right now, but I am looking to get another order around. If you are interested, please post in the comments section below. The Vulcan V-2’s cost $99.

I am also looking to bring in some extra Orange Springs that are quite a bit lighter than the standard Silver Black-Dipped Springs. Also, I want to get some Thumb Screws thrown in as well.

All I am looking for is for you to post below that you are interested and I will add you to the list. Please do so as soon as possible so I can get with David Horne. This time, I am keeping one of the sets of Thumb Screws.

OK, DIESELS, that’s it for now. My new Grip Training Freak, Eric Loyd is coming over soon and we are going to work on the Vulcan, Two Hands Pinch, and maybe even try bending a horseshoe.

All the best in your training,


Killer Goblet Squats

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

I want to drink Ovaltine out of this…

The Goblet Squat is an outstanding alternative to the Back Squat that you can use from time to time in your training in order to mix things up and enjoy a bit of variety. It is most often performed with a dumbbell or kettlebell, but odd objects can be used as well.

The Goblet Squat was invented by the world-renowned speaker, author, accomplished athlete, and all-around strong dude, Dan John.

Dan John Loading up for a Monster Discuss Toss

How to Perform the Goblet Squat

The Grip


Beginner Odd Object Training – Safety Considerations

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

fire hydrant carry odd object
Dan Cenidoza – Hydrant Carry, 2005

Odd Objects are implements used for strength training that are different from normal strength training tools like dumbbells and barbells.

The size, shape, and weight of Odd Objects make them more challenging to grip, hold, and control, and their bulk makes their center of gravity hard to predict.

Examples of Odd Objects include kegs, sandbags, atlas stones, natural stones, fire hydrants, wheel barrels, logs, tires, block weights, kettlebells, and more.

diesel keg training

In recent years, Odd Object training has become more popular and they are being used at all levels of strength training and conditioning, including the High School, Collegiate, and Professional levels.

Odd Objects are also often used in the sport of Strongman and Grip contests. The competitors in these sports spend hours training with the sport-specific implements in order to master them and be ready to lift them when they get to their competitions.

Because of the popularity of odd objects, strength enthusiasts and those interested in building muscle may also want to add them into their routine for an additional challenge and variety. However, it is important to understand that Odd Object training can entail more risk, especially for those not used to dealing with their dynamic and unpredictable nature.

Starting Out

It is important to start out slow with Odd Object training. Just like any new activity, there has to be a conditioning, or ramp-up period instituted in order to do it safely.

Just like you can’t go from having a sedentary lifestyle to running a marathon, you can’t expect to go from working out on machines and doing very basic lifting to doing heavy Odd Object training without getting sore or even having an injury.

If your normal training routine involves primarily barbell and dumbbell work while seated or laying on a bench, cable work, or lifts done in machines, then you have work to do before getting involved in Odd Object training. These types of lifts are mostly isolation movements, meaning they target primarily one joint during the movement. While this type of training can be used for getting a huge pump and building muscle, they do little to prepare you for awkward weight bearing lifts involved in Odd Object training.

Prior to getting involved with things like heavy sandbags, logs, and other bigger and heavier objects, it is important to move away from only doing isolation movements and move toward including multi-joint and closed chain movements in your program.

Multi-joint movements are easy to spot, as they include movement over more than just one joint. For an example, tricep pushdowns done on a cable machine are an isolation movement – they target the triceps and involve movement mainly at the elbow only. Close-Grip bench press targets the triceps, but incorporates movement both at the elbow and the shoulder. This in turn brings more muscle into play and increases the demand on the trainee, moving them closer toward being prepared for Odd Object strength training.

Closed kinetic chain movements (CKCM) are also important in conditioning a trainee to Odd Object training. Closed Chain movements are done without sitting on a machine but rather while standing or exerting force directly into the ground. They are also often weight bearing in nature and require more energy to stabilize the joints of the body while the movement of each repetition takes place.

Thus, instead of stopping at Close-grip bench press, an even better option for getting ready for Odd Object training is some form of standing overhead press. This still works the triceps, but you also get the benefit of more shoulder work, core stimulation and full body coordination and stability. Other examples of movements with a closed kinetic chain are the Squat, Cleans, Deadlift Variations, and Lunges.

Proper Lifting Form Cues – Mental Checklist

atlas stone training

For those new to this type of training, it is important to set-up correctly prior to doing any lifts. Following is a Mental Checklist to go over when working with closed kinetic chain, multi-joint movements.

Head in Line with Spine: The neck should not be flexed or extended while lifting. It should remain in neutral alignment with the spine to prevent injury. The neck can also be stabilized further by pressing the tongue into the roof of the mouth.

Shoulders Back: Posture is important the entire way down the torso. The shoulders should not slouch forward or there is an increase risk of injury. The shoulders should be pulled back during most of these movements.

Proud Chest: This cue works in tandem with the shoulders. By maintaining a proud chest the thoracic area remains rigid and the spine stays in proper alignment.

Push Belly Out: Take a deep breath and push the belly out. This creates intra-abdominal pressure and helps brace the core and stabilize the torso. This can increase the blood pressure for a short time, so any trainees with health concerns in this neighborhood should exercise caution.

Hips Back: The first movement in most closed-chain, multi-joint movements, should involve pushing the hips back. This helps maintain a safe lordotic curve of the lumbar spine, where it arches inward toward the stomach, rather than rounding away.

Again, the value of this type of training is bridging the gap from isolation movements that are very predictable in nature and moving toward the unpredictable nature of Odd Object training. Training like this helps with coordination, stability, core strength, joint stability, and the ability to react to and counteract outside forces.

Training with Odd Objects

After several workouts performing these free-standing, multi-joint movements, now it is time to move into using Odd Objects. For Beginner Odd Object Training, I like the use of something like a stiff heavy bag. Heavy bags are large and bulky, but their filling is dense and does not shift like that of a slosh pipe or a loosely packed sandbag. This way, the trainee is able to work with the increased size of the implement but not such a dynamic center of gravity.

Heavy bags come in many lengths and weights. The one I use is about 40-lbs. This is a good starting point for the new Odd Object trainee and it will help build confidence with a non-conventional implement.

Now, the same closed-chain, multi-joint movements that are done with a barbell can be done with the heavy bag: Squat, Deadlift, Clean, Press, Clean and Press, etc.

Other movements that can also be done with the heavy bag include Shouldering the Bag, Shoulder Squats, Waiter’s Bows, etc.

Also, because the Heavy Bag does not have to be loaded with plates or any other means, transitions from one movement to another can be quick, increasing conditioning and allowing you to get more work completed in a shorter time.

Sometimes, the best way to put new types of training into action is to see them being done by someone else. In the video below, I go over many of the above mentioned movements, plus other ones. So grab your heavy bag and go along with this video.

Incidentally, if you do not have access to a heavy bag, a sandbag or a loaded duffel bag will work well. They can be a bit more advanced though, because the load inside them may move, causing the sandbag or duffel to flex during the movement, so be prepared if you go that route.

In closing, Odd Object training can be used for a welcomed change of pace from your normal training routine. However, depending on the current ability and training status of the trainee, there may be some transitional work that must be done for a short time beforehand in order to assure safety. With proper caution and consistent training, Odd Object lifting can be a safe and rewarding activity that will help you build muscle, improve your conditioning, and increase your athleticism.


If you have any questions about how to get started with odd Object training, please do not hesitate to ask. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email through the RESOURCES button above.

All the best in your training,


Other Odd Object Info at Diesel

We’ve got tons of information here for you on Odd Object Training. Here’s just a sampling…

How to Lift Kegs Safely
Using Odd Objects for Conditioning
Introduction to Odd Objects
Similarities Between Olympic Lifts and Stone Lifting
Atlas Stone Beginner Training Tip
Benefits You Get from Stone Training
Sandbag Circuits for Serious Conditioning
Killer Sandbag Workout

Ultimate Forearm Training for Baseball | How to Bend Nails | How to Tear Cards | Feats of Grip Strength Explained | How to Build Your Own Equipment | How to Lift Atlas Stones | The Sh*t You’ve Never Seen | Sled Dragging for Athletes | The Road to the Record DVD

Killer Weekend Strongman Workout

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

This past Friday I got a call on my cell phone around 9 PM. It was Rick Walker, who has written many of the articles we have in our strength and conditioning articles section.