Best Exercise for Developing Maximal Power

What is the best exercise for developing maximal power? Given that a vertical jump is really just an expression of your relative muscular power this would seem to be a reasonable question. It has been a long held belief in coaching circles that the Olympic lifts are the gold standard of maximal power exercises. This table below shows the various power outputs of the Olympic lifts across a few different weight classes.

As you can see, there is some pretty impressive maximal power numbers shown there. Not only that there has also been quite a few studies over the years that demonstrate just how effective the Olympic lifts are for increasing your vertical jump. Several studies even suggest that the Olympic lifts were better than jumping for increasing your vertical jump.

Why Are The Olympic Lifts So Good For Vertical Jump Development?

Olympic liftingOlympic Lifting: A Commonly Used Power Training Method

The two most common reasons that coaches give for the use of Olympic lifts in their athletes programs are:

1) They produce the highest power outputs of any exercise
2) The Olympic lifting motion closely mimics the triple extension, and the catch develops eccentric strength. Both important vertical jump attributes.

Clearly the training logic is the Olympic lifts superior maximal power outputs combined with the similarities to an actual vertical jump result in one of the most effective vertical jump training methods.

This is all well and good, except for one small point. The Olympic lifts don't actually produce the biggest maximal power outputs. Not even close in fact.

A recent study demonstrated that jump squats using what I consider to be the best strength building exercise, the trap bar deadlift, can actually produce maximal power outputs in excess of 6000W. Is this true? Are the Olympic lifts not the best exercises for producing maximal power after all? Well watch the video and see for yourself.

Vertical Jump Training Implications

Ok, so the Olympic lifts aren't the top dog in developing maximal power any more. What does this mean for your training? Well it simply means that you can do what many top coaches such as Joe DeFranco have been saying for years and that is replace the Olympic lifts with weighted jumps.

Weighted jumps are a proven technique for increasing your vertical jump because they do help develop maximal power and because they are an actual jumping movement themselves, they are very specific to the goal of jumping higher.


Olympic lifting is still a great way to train for maximal power. However it isn't the BEST way. That honor belongs to the trap bar jump squat.

What happens if you don't have a trap bar? No problem, just do weighted jump squats using dumbbells, weight vests, sand bags, or any other suitable weighted implement. You will get the same, if not more benefits to your vertical jump, without the steep learning curve or specialist equipment requirements that come with the Olympic lifts.

This last point is really important by the way. I have stopped including the Olympic lifts in any of the vertical jump programs I write for my vertical jump coaching customers. I do however often include sensible use of volume and intensity weighted jump squats to help my athletes get their power output up and add inches to their vertical jump.

If you are interested in checking out the coaching program click on the image below for more info.

Related Articles

The Best Vertical Jump Exercise Ever- What is the best vertical jumping exercise you can do?

Olympic Lifting - Olympic lifters are not only very strong, but they are also very powerful.. Learn why the O-lifts can be so beneficial for athletes in developing that important explosive muscular power.

Is This The Best Strength Exercise For Increasing Vertical Jump? - What is REALLY the best strength exercise for increasing your vertical jump? Hint, it isn't squats.

Olympic Lifting and Vertical Jump Development - An interesting study about the effects of Olympic lifting and vertical jump improvement.


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