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Friday, October 11, 2019

Train According to Gravity and Jump Higher!

Traditional Squats and Deadlifts are Overrated when it comes to Vertical Jump Training and Speed Development 

This article might completely change the way you think about high-performance training and power development. This article will teach you about a fundamental approach to our training philosophy at Bounce Evolution. (2 minute read)

You will learn:
  1. The relationship between your ankles, knees and hips in regards to force production
  2. Misconceptions regarding the squat and deadlift for vertical jump growth
  3. How to maximize your bodies total body strength
  4. How to apply these concepts to your training

Force Production from the Hips, through the Knees and Ankles

What does it mean to train according to gravity?
When we jump or run we use our muscles to produce force. The prime producers of this force are our hips through a hinging motion. Although this involves the largest, most powerful muscles, this is only a part of the equation. In order for us to use this force to its full capacity, we must transfer this force downwards through the knees, ankles and into the ground. If we neglect to train our body proportionately,  our knees and ankles will not be able to transfer the force and we will leak part of our power on its way to the ground. This can lead to inferior athletic performance as well as injury.

A study conducted by Cleather, Goodwin & Bull in 2013 (linked below) found that during maximal jumps the ankle was subjected to the most force at a mean of 8.9 X bodyweight, with the knee sustaining a mean of 6.9 X bodyweight and the hips only being subjected to 5.5 X bodyweight.

In short, the hips produce the most force, but the knees and ankles are often the limiting factors.

I like to use the analogy of a car. If you have a car with a huge powerful engine that can propel it forward but our tires are flat, the car will not be able to use its potential power of the engine.

Take a look at this video of one of the highest jumpers in the world. Observe his mechanics closely and you can see he plants, then extends his hips first, then knees and finally plantarflexes his ankles. This allows for the highest power output.

When we train we want to mimic the biomechanics of our sport as closely as possible. For optimal performance, train your body to extend in this order:
Hips ↠ Knees ↠ Ankles

Misconceptions with Squats, Deadlifts and Vertical Jump Training

Most information out there focuses on the hips as they are the largest muscle group through squats and/or deadlifts. Performing these exercises will increase your strength effectively, however, when not balanced properly could lead to developing incorrect movement mechanics when it comes to athletic movements in sports.

Traditional Squats and Deadlifts are Overrated when it comes to Vertical Jump Training and Speed Development 

Take a look at this slow-motion video of a heavy squat. Take note of the following:
  • The minimal motion of the ankle
  • Ankles and knees are extending fully BEFORE the hips extend

Take a look at this slow-motion video of a deadlift. Take note of the following:

  • Minimal range of motion in the ankle and knees
  • Ankles and knees are fully extending BEFORE the hips extend

How to Maximize your Total Body Power Output

In order to maximizer your potential you need to "train from the ground up". This means you need to pay proportionately more attention to the ankles and feet than the knees, and more attention to the knees compared to the hips.
Follow the following 3 guidelines in order to proportionately increase power. 
  • Train the ankles and feet to be bulletproof and handle everything the knees and hips subject them to
  • Train the knees to be bulletproof and handle the force produced by the hips
  • Train the hips through triple extension exercises with the hips extending first followed by the knees and finally the ankles.
This way it will be impossible to become imbalanced, and you will jump higher, run faster as well as greatly reduce the chance of injury.

The Work Out - How to Apply this to your Training

Now that you understand the fundamentals and background information, I will take you through a few exercises to add to your routine! These will start from the feet and finish with the hips. Each exercise will target the specified muscle group as well as the joints/muscles below it!

- Bear Crawl x30 meters (shoes off)

  • A great full-body warm-up that emphasises plantar flexion of the feet
- Knees over Toes Calf Raise 3x10/leg

- Tibialis Raise 3x10 (Single leg)

- Reverse Step Up 3x15/leg

- Sissy Squat 3x10-12

- (Full range) Pistol Squat 3x6-8/leg

- Rhythm Squat 3x25

Thank you for reading!

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The information above is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, it is always better to see your doctor before starting any type of rehabilitation to ensure you are properly diagnosed.


Cleather, D. J., Goodwin, J. E., & Bull, A. M. (2013). Hip and knee joint loading during vertical jumping and push jerking. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 28(1), 98–103.

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