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Power Cleans To Increase Vertical Jump Height

Daniel Brady | March 27, 2013 in Sport

The power clean is a rarely seen exercise in most gyms (unless you’re in an Olympic lifting gym, or sports focused gym). However, it is more valuable than its popularity suggests. According to Mark Rippetoe of Starting Strength, the power clean is the best way to convert your strength (e.g. squats and deadlifts) into power, and power is the most important factor contributing to vertical jump height. So let’s take a look at the scientific studies to see exactly how beneficial the power clean and similar exercises are for the vertical jump.

Weight Lifting versus Body Weight Vertical Jump Training

Let’s start by checking that weight lifting is in fact better than body weight vertical jump training. The following training programs and results are from an experiment lasting 8 weeks.[1]

Vertical Jump Height Training Programs

Vertical Jump Improvement Results

As you can see above, both weight training and body weight jump training surpassed each other for 3 metrics each (I inserted the green numbers and ticks). However, the metrics most applicable to vertical jump, the squat jump and counter-movement jump (as pictured below), were won by the weight training group. Both training programs are useful for athletes, but the weight lifting program will likely result in greater improvements.

Counter Movement Jump and Squat Jump

Olympic Lifting versus Regular Weight Lifting

This study was done on high school boys for 8 weeks (the results are similar for professional football players[2]). Below is an image comparing the exercises done by the two groups, and the results they achieved.[3]

Olympic versus Regular Weigh Lifting for Vertical Jump

The results on the right are quite clear. The control group lost vertical jump height since they stopped training, the regular weight training group improved a little, and the Olympic lifting group improved the most. The above chart is showing absolute improvements, but in percentage terms, the weight lifting group increased their vertical jump by 2.3% and the Olympic lifting group improved by 4.5%, almost double.

How Much Do I Need to Increase My Strength By?

Displayed below is some very interesting data. It shows how much strength increase results in how much vertical jump increase.

Strength Increase Vertical Jump Relationship

A 10cm increase in vertical jump is a respectable improvement, so make it your goal to increase your squat by 150lb and your power clean by 60lb. Those are not small increases though, so it should be a 6-12 month goal for most people. If you want a quicker goal, then target a 75lb squat increase, a 30lb power clean increase for roughly a 5cm increase in vertical jump in 3-6 months.


Step your training up a notch by including Olympic lifts in your training routine, particularly the power clean. It will help to give you the edge over your weaker competition, and at least keep pace with the superior competition. Make it a goal to increase your power clean by 60lb within 6-12 months to see a significant increase in your vertical jump. After a while you’ll end up like this guy:

High Vertical Jump

Daniel has a strong interest in evidence supported fitness training, preparation and supplementation. His goal is to provide clear information that simply works. He's currently 16 kg of muscle above his starting weight (7kg in the past 12 months), and targeting a continued growth rate of 5kg+ per year.
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