How To Jump Higher Using Escalating Density Training (EDT)

Can you use Escalated density training (EDT) to jump higher? It is a question that comes up every now and then in my emails so I thought I should answer it here on the site.

What is Escalating Density Training (EDT)

For those of you who are unfamiliar with EDT, it is a simple but effective method of organizing and progressing your  training that is the creation of well known performance coach Charles Staley. The beauty of EDT that it simplifies the process of adding progression to your workouts in the form of more reps or more weight. Continuous progression is after all, an important aspect for any good vertical jump program.

Charles StaleyCharles Staley: The Creator of Escalating Density Training (EDT)

A simple example of EDT in action would be someone squatting 100kg for as many reps as they could in 15 minutes. With EDT you take as much rest as you feel you need between sets and you only count total reps. If that person managed to perform 30 reps in the 15 minutes on their first workout this would be their baseline PR Zone (personal record zone). On your next workout they would try and increase the number of reps they completed with that 100kg weight.

When you have increased your total number of reps performed in the PR zone by 20% than you add 5% more weight. Using our example this means that once you could perform 36 reps (36/30 = 1.2 or a 20% increase in total number of reps) with 100kg within the 15 minutes you would add 5kg to the bar. The idea behind EDT is that in order for your muscles to grow stronger they must be exposed to ever increasing weight.

So how is this any different to normal progressive overload? Good question. As far as I can tell it's not really any different other than the fact it has defined time parameters (15 minutes per PR Zone) and incremental improvements. Basically it is weight training 101 simplified. EDT is a very easy training concept to grasp. Do more total work per workout.

strength training to increase your vertical jumpEDT can be applied to all vertical jump training strength exercises

How To Use EDT To Increase Your Vertical Jump

You can use EDT in your training program in two ways. The first is to improve your strength levels in the weight room. In this case you would follow a fairly standard EDT approach of setting a base PR Zone and working from there. For strength you would choose a load of around 75-85% of your 1RM and perform sets of between 1 and 5 reps.

Progression in this case is fairly easy to monitor as you are using the load as your guide. For your jumping based work progression is a little bit more complicated. The obvious solution is to just do more jumps for each PR Zone however this is in fact NOT the best way to implement it.

The better way would be to base you progress on jump height. One of the real drawbacks about most jumping drills designed to increase your vertical jump is that in nearly all cases you are not jumping to reach any identifiable targets which means you don't get any feedback about how you are progressing. So while you may think you are giving it your all, your vertical jump may not actually be improving.

Now while there are cheap and portable devices that are becoming more and more readily available, the simplest way is still to just set yourself up an overhead target to aim for.

One easy way that you can do this almost anywhere is to put a tennis ball in a sock and tie it to an overhead object such as a tree branch, or a basketball goal. This is your target. When you can jump and touch the target height 15 times in the 15 minutes, then you increase the height of the target.

The advantage of this is that if the ground beneath the tree or whatever you choose to hang your sock target from is flat, you can perform running jumps, 1,2 or 3 step jumps, or pure standing vertical jumps. Jumping for a target is a really great way to improve your vertical jump because it provides immediate feedback as to your performance as opposed to specifically measuring it every 7-14 days.

Gerald Green dunkHaving an overhead target to aim for is one thing, but this is just showing off!

Limitations of EDT For Increasing Your Vertical Jump

The main issue with using EDT for vertical jump training is that a vertical jump is a power based movement. Power training really is more about QUALITY reps, over the quantity of work performed.

With vertical jumping exercises it is always easy to do more reps within a limited time frame but what inevitably happens is that you end up doing lower quality jumps (i.e. lower jump height) in order to just hit the target number of reps. The nature of EDT being more work in a certain time always pushes the emphasis of the training away from higher quality jumps.


Escalating Density Training (EDT) is actually a brilliantly simple way to plan and progress your training in your workouts. It has tangible and measurable goals and that alone is a great way to motivate an athlete and help them get better.

It is terrific for burning fat, adding muscle, and when done sensibly, also getting stronger. The more work per time mechanism that EDT uses is ideal for those training goals.

However for vertical jump improvement it isn't the best approach. As vertical jump training requires a much greater focus on performing high quality, high intensity reps on each set, a more traditional workout with plenty of rest periods between each set, and sensible allocation of exercise choices, sets, and reps to reflect the athletes individual needs is still the far more effective way to train.

If you want something like that there are no better options than to check out our vertical jump training coaching service. For just $10 you can get a fully customized vertical jump program written for you.

For more information visit: 

Get Your Vertical Jump Training Program Written For You

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The Best Vertical Jump Training Exercise: What is the best vertical jump exercise you can do?

Best Vertical Jump Strength Exercise: Is this the best strength exercise for increasing your vertical jump?


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