Deloading for Better Vertical Jump Gains

If you have ever dealt with highly motivated athletes you will know that they absolutely love to train. They look forward to the sessions, they work hard, and they get results. However, no matter how motivated or hard working you are, there will come a time when you need to take a break, and that is where deloading comes in.

What is Deloading?

Deloading is simply a planned break from intense training.

Why Do You Need To Deload?

There are a number of reason an athlete should occasionally take a time out for deloading. Some of the more important ones for a vertical jumping athlete include:

  • To give the muscles a chance to recover.
  • To allow the CNS to recover. Most vertical jump training is pretty taxing to the CNS.
  • To allow any excessive inflammation of the joints to subside.
  • To refresh yourself mentally.
  • To give any niggling injuries a chance to heal.
  • To allow the positive adaptations from your hard work to actually occur.

As you can see from this list there are plenty of good reasons to incorporate some time for deloading into your program if you want to increase your vertical jump.

How To Deload

There are a number of schools of thought when it comes to deloading.

There is the volume reduction method which a reduction in the number of reps performed while maintaining the same weights and exercises. So for a vertical jumping athlete performing squats or depth jumps they might go from doing 4 sets of 5 reps down to 3 sets of 3.

Another way is the intensity reduction method. Again using the squat or depth jump example you maintain the number of sets and reps, but lower the weight used in your working sets by 20%, or lower the box height for your depth jumps.

Other methods of reducing intensity, especially with plyos would be to replace higher impact and single leg jumps with lower impact, and double leg jumps. For example if your program involves bounding and skipping, you might replace these with two legged box jumps.

There is also the complete rest method where you simply take a week off ALL exercise. Eric Cressey in his book The Art of the Deload cautions against this approach though on the grounds that

1) many lifts require regular repetition to maintain good technique (more applicable to Olympic lifts),

2) Most people get a complete rest once a twice a year anyway due to things like holidays, exams, etc

A good alternative to the complete rest approach is the active rest week which involves the cessation of regular structured training, and replacing it with some other form of fun and active pursuit.

So instead of doing your regular 5 sets of 5 reps on depth jumps, followed by 4 sets of 5 reps of tuck umps etc, you might take the week off and go surfing, play soccer, tennis, or other team sport with your friends, or maybe go for a few bike rides.

beach volleyballBeach Volleyball: Here is a great choice for an active deload

One final method that could be applied to the deload week is the exercise reduction method where you simply take the less important exercises in your program and drop them for the week.

So if your vertical jump program is currently focused on developing reactive strength and had you doing some skipping, some depth jumps, some frog jumps and some box jumps, you might do the regular volume of depth jumps and skipping but drop the frog jumps and box jumps as they are less important to the reactive strength development goal.

There are several other ways to approaching a deloading week but for now this will give you some pretty good ideas of some of the things you can do.

Picking The Right Approach

Ok, I have just briefly outlined 5 different approaches to deloading, inevitably I am going to be asked the question - so which one do I use? The answer, like most things relating to athletic improvement, will depend on the individual.

At the very beginning of this article I talked about goals of the deload. These included refreshing motivation, allowing injuries to heal, muscles to recover and so on. If you keep those goals in mind then you should be able to choose the right approach for you. Just ask yourself which of those goals is most applicable to you, and then choose the one that is most likely going to achieve that.

For example, if your joints are really sore and your muscles are aching and you have a pretty heavy workload outside your vertical jump training, then you may want to choose an approach such as the complete rest week.

Alternatively, if your program is much lighter and you just need a mental break from the routine and grind, your deload might consist of some active recovery, or just a reduced volume/intensity/workload approach.

Whatever you decide, the golden rule of deloading is to just do less!

For those athletes in our Vertical Jump Training coaching program I usually recommend they do at least one or two sports specific jumping sessions, or if they need to get stronger then I would suggest one jumping session and one reduced weight session.

how to slam dunkDeload To Jump Higher: A bit of time off will help you to jump higher.

Things You MUST Do In A Deload

Regardless of what method you choose to adopt for your deload there are some activities that should definitely be performed. These activities are the recovery principles outlined in the FREE VERTICAL JUMP TRAINING GUIDE.

These include:

  • Getting plenty of sleep (at least 8 hours)
  • Stretching and foam rolling each day to work out any trigger points and fascial tightness
  • Icing your knees and ankles
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Eating a clean diet

Obviously you should be trying to do these things all the time, but most people tend to be a bit slack in these areas. A deload is the perfect opportunity to prioritize these activities due to the reduced time spent training and hopefully also start to form good habits to continue for when you resume full training.

If you want to know how to properly incorporate a deload into your vertical jump training program look no further than our jump coaching program. With our custom training programs written specifically for you we strategically build in planned rest periods so that you can get the best results form your training effort.

To find out more about the jump coaching click here.


Deloading isn't complicated, it is simple a planned reduction of your current training loads. Its goal is to help refresh your body and mind so that your training effort and intensity can be maintained. It also provides some time to let the positive adaptations from the previous weeks and months training to take place so that when you do come back your capacity to jump higher and work harder will have improved.

By incorporating these periods of rest into your vertical jump program, you will be able to maintain your intensity and focus for longer, and you're the results will speak for themselves.

Related Articles

Vertical Jump Training - The quickest way to increase your vertical jump.

Training Frequency Part 1 - How often should you be training to increase your vertical jump?

Central Nervous System Recovery
- The Central Nervous System (CNS) controls everything where maximum vertical jump performance is concerned. Ensuring it is working optimally requires adequate recovery. Here are a few tips to keep your CNS functioning well.

Injury Prevention - No one likes getting hurt. By taking a few precautionary steps you can reduce your chances of getting injured significantly.


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