Isometric exercises aren't generally included in many jump programs which is a shame really because they offer some pretty unique and amazing benefits over regular training methods. They aren't perfect, but they do work. Here is how you can use isometrics to help you jump higher.
Isometrics are static contractions. By static contractions we mean muscular contractions where the muscle is contracting without actually moving. An isometric contractions occurs any time you are holding a weight in a fixed position (a yielding isometric contraction) or pushing/puling against an immovable object (overcoming isometric contraction).
Technically speaking an isometric contraction also occurs in any vertical jump. It usually only happens for a brief moment in between when you go from descending to exploding up. That split second where you are not going up or down is also an isometric contraction.
At first performing a static contraction might seem counter productive to the improvement of jumping ability. After all a vertical jump is a movement, not a hold. However further investigation shows there might be more to isometric training than meets the eye.
Vertical jump is an expression of muscular power. The equation of Power = Force/Time (or Force x Velocity). Force is highly correlated to strength. Strength is determined by size and number of muscle fibers recruited. And this is where isometrics comes in.
Isometric training forces your muscles to recruit more fibers. When you statically hold or maximally contract against a heavy or immovable weight, your body starts activating and recruiting extra fibers to maintain that hold or intensity. In other words your contractions start to become more neurologically efficient.
If you wanted to apply this knowledge to your vertical jump training you might try performing static maximal effort holds to teach your muscles to recruit more fibers. The more fibers you can activate the stronger you become.
The downside to isometric exercises is that the consequent neurological and strength enhancements are basically limited to the angle at which you are performing the hold. In other words isometric training with your knees bent at 90 degrees will help you get stronger at holds at that angle, but as you move through the range of movement away from the 90 degrees, the strength gains from the isometric holds start to diminish .
In the past this has meant that proper isometric training required a lot of set up at multiple joint angles to really improve strength across the full range of motion.
Also most studies on isometrics show that used on their own they are an inferior method of developing jumping power. BUT, that does not mean they cannot be used to make some dramatic gains on your vertical jump. You just need to be a bit smarter about how you program their use (see below).
There are a number of ways to use isometric exercises to increase your vertical jump. You can perform body weight variations such as the wall sit and isometric split squats as shown above, or you can use barbells, dumbbells, weights vests, and other forms of weight to create extra resistance.
Holds can be done for anywhere between 5-120 seconds depending on how much weight you have, whether or not you are doing single leg or double leg varieties, and the position you are holding.
However if you really want to get some insane vertical jump gains from using isometrics then you should take a look at our Game Changers book. Method 7 in Game Changers is an isometric training technique that produces strength and power gains that have to be experienced to be believed. It is not uncommon to see 4-6 inch gains in as little as 4 weeks using this method.
To find out more about this technique and some of our other incredibly powerful training methods click here
Isometrics are a training methods that is often neglected by coaches and athletes because they aren't sure how to implement them properly, or they are skeptical of the benefits. However once those same coaches and athletes that do implement isometric methods into their program and start seeing the results they quickly become converts.
If your regular training isn't getting you the results you want then maybe it is time to shake things up a little and try something new. Isometrics might be just the thing to unlock some fresh inches onto your vertical jump.