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Strength or Power for Increasing Vertical Jump

Daniel Brady | April 18, 2013 in Sport

Some people think that squats are best for increasing vertical jump and some people think they are useless. The same can be said for plyometrics since it’s hard for people to know the truth without proper research. In this article we show you the results of experiments that compare both methods separately and combined. Learn the truth about increasing vertical jump below.

Squats (Strength) versus Plyometrics (Power)

This study was done on 48 non-athlete individuals for 7 weeks, training 2 times per week.[1] It compared squats, plyometrics, squats + plyometrics and a control. The chart below shows the clear results. Both the squats group and plyometrics added a little over 1 inch to their vertical jump after 7 weeks, the squats plus plyometrics group added over 4 inches (over an inch per 2 weeks!).

Squats vs Plyometrics- for Vertical Jump

The combination training provided roughly 3x greater results that either of the training methods alone. The reason for this is that you need squat training to get a lot stronger, and the plyometric training is required so that your body can learn to utilize the increased strength.

Remember that these were non-athlete individuals, and an inch of increase per 2 weeks can’t be continued forever (or you would be jumping like Michael Jordan within a year). The above results are the gains to be expected if you don’t yet do squats or plyometrics regularly. If you’re already doing one training but not the other, then you can expect reduced but still significant results. The combined training program looks like this:

Squats and Plyometrics Training Program

Complex Training (Strength + Power) in Athletes

This study was done on 45 male baseball players for 4 weeks.[2] The above study was done on non-athletes, so this one will show whether the same training rules apply to athletes. The results below show that complex training (weight lifting and plyometrics) outperformed heavy resistance training or plyometrics alone on 5 out of 6 metrics.
Complex Training Results

So how do you apply this to sport? You can follow the program shown earlier, with the option of adding weights to your plyometric exercises such as weighted drop jumps, and adding sport-specific speed and agility exercises. For example, for soccer you might add zig-zag cone sprints and other cone drills for quickening changing direction (cones are cheap and useful).

Zig-Zag Cone Drill

Olympic Lifting

Another of our articles found that Olympic lifting (such as power cleans) is more effective for vertical jump than regular weight lifting, so another option would be to combine Olympic lifting with plyometrics.

Olympic lifting is more effective because it improves both strength and power, but plyometrics may still be a useful addition as it helps you to translate the strength and power to sports related movements.


A combination of heavy weight lifts, Olympic lifts and plyometrics will help you to maximize your vertical jump, long jump, speed and so on. Including some agility and quickness drills will help you to really improve your sports performance. An inch per fortnight is the sort of impressive gains you can make to your vertical jump if you are untrained and start training properly, and a lower rate if you’re moderately trained already.

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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