The Right Way to do a Jump Squat

The Right Way to do a Jump Squat

The best athletes in the world need to be explosive, and in some regards, it makes sense that we model our training after them when we want to achieve the same thing. Given we have a good foundation, jumping training is a bit more technical than we give it credit for being.

It kind of works the same way running does. It’s something the body is capable of doing naturally, but to become efficient at it and reduce risk, there’s a set of skills you need to acquire to really master it – and to start doing it better than others.

What do we mean by “good foundation”? Well, simply put, we wouldn’t learn to sprint before we learned how to walk. Anything done explosively removes one key element that benefits beginners and novices when it’s present – the element of time. When we have less time to do a rep of a movement, it means we have a smaller window to ensure we have a perfect setup, technique during the move itself, and recovery phase after.

Suffice to say, the derivative for any jump would be a squat (and that’s why the goblet squat pictured above is a good starting point on any vertical leap journey). If you struggle to squat your body weight equivalent, or notice that when you do, your depth is very insufficient, your knees are collapsing inward, your torso can’t stay erect, or your feet have the tendency to roll in toward the big toe, you probably have no reason to start leaving the ground in your training until you solve those issues through more strength, more mobility, or both.

Jumping: The Big Mistake

But let’s say you’ve got everything down, and you’re set to start doing jumps. You may be strong and may even have a great, impact-free landing. There’s still one thing that makes trainers cringe when they see it, and that comes from the upper body technique in the takeoff.

Whether you’re doing a straight vertical jump, box jump, or standing broad jump, it’s imperative that the arms assist your movement pattern to give you more force production, power, and transfer of energy. Think about going up for a rebound on a basketball court, or blocking a spike in volleyball. The common thing about both of these actions is that the arms shoot up to get more height (and to complete the task). Among the commonfolk, it’s become a prevalent thing to jump while driving the hands and arms downward quite aggressively, and that’s not doing anything for anyone – except making you look like you’re best rocketship impression.

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Getting height or distance on your jumps means letting the force travel from the floor, through your legs, into your trunk, and out to your extremities. Think about the highest box jump you can think of successfully completing. First try it with your arms helping you, and then try it without. You’ll get the idea. If you want your jumps to translate to more power, speed, and strength, get your arms involved to help you out. It’s only natural.

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