The Correlation Between Running and Jumping Ability
In order to understand why it is so difficult to run fast, we need to first look at what makes us capable of running faster than others. There are many factors which contribute to our ability to run faster than others. One such factor is the type of muscle fibers we have.
Muscle fiber types differ in their speed-producing capabilities. For example, slow twitch fibres are used for endurance activities like walking or jogging while fast twitch fibres are used for explosive activities like sprinting or jumping. These differences in muscle fiber types determine how quickly we can produce force with each contraction of our muscles.
Another factor which contributes to our ability to run faster than others is the amount of oxygen we use during exercise. Oxygen consumption (VO2) determines how much energy we expend when exercising. When we exercise, we expend oxygen through breathing and other means.
The amount of oxygen consumed determines how much energy we expend.
Finally, there is the environment in which we exercise. A variety of environmental factors affect the rate at which our bodies burn calories during physical activity. These include temperature, humidity levels, air pressure and even wind velocity and direction.
Does Running Increase Your Vertical Jump?
So why does running have such a positive effect on vertical jumping ability?
One reason is that it helps to strengthen the muscles involved in jumping. By strengthening these muscles, we are able to exert more force into the ground propelling our bodies into the air. The more force we can exert into the ground, the higher we can jump. The problem, however, is that running only works the muscles in a limited range of motion. This is especially true when you take into consideration that during long distance running, we are primarily relying on the same few leg muscles to repeatedly propel our body weight forward.
So while running can help to strengthen and build these muscles, it does little to increase our ability to exert force in all directions. So although running will help to increase our vertical jump, it is not nearly as effective as plyometric exercises.
What is plyometric training and why is it better for increasing vertical jump than running?
Plyometric training is a form of exercise which involves repetitive explosive muscle contractions. An example of plyometric training would be rapidly bending your knees then jumping as high as you can. This type of training helps to increase an athlete’s ability to exert force into the ground. It also helps to produce a tendon reflex which increases our vertical jump ability even when we are not actively jumping. An example of a tendon reflex is the way in which your biceps muscle contracts without your direct control when you try to stretch it.
Plyometric training is superior to running for increasing vertical jump ability because it strengthens all of the muscles involved in jumping. Unlike running, plyometric training involves a wide range of muscles and tendons which help us to exert force into the ground on all three planes of motion.
What does this mean exactly?
Well basically, plyometric training helps us to exert force not just forwards (as in running) or just upwards (as in jumping). Plyometric training helps us to exert force in all three planes of motion simultaneously. So when we jump, our flexing knees are pushing down into the ground and our ankles are pushing backwards while our feet and toes push off the ground.
The problem with running is that it only strengthens the muscles involved in jumping in one direction. These muscles are also not strengthened and conditioned as well since during running we don’t push off the ground as much since we are constantly in contact with the ground unlike during a vertical jump.
What plyometric exercises should I do?
There are several different types of plyometric exercises and You should try to incorporate a wide variety of these into your training routine. A few examples of these exercises are squat jumps, lateral jumps over cones and standing forward jumps over a hurdle.
How often and how long should I do plyometric exercises for?
You should be as involved in plyometric training as much as possible. You can even do it on days when you are not at the gym or playing sports. Try to incorporate it into your daily routine whenever you have the chance.
So how often should you actually do the exercises for?
This really depends on what your current fitness level is, but as a guideline you should be aiming to do plyometric exercises a minimum of three times a week and no more than 6 times a week. As for how long you should actually be doing them for, a minimum of 10 minutes and no more than 30 minutes per session is recommended.
How long before I notice results?
As with any training program, you won’t see any changes immediately. It usually takes weeks if not months of doing plyometric exercises consistently and following a healthy eating plan before you really notice any changes in your vertical jump height. Some people do notice small changes in their vertical after the first week though, especially in their “soft touch” or the height they can just tap the basketball without jumping before it drops back to the ground.
What should I eat?
Just like training, diet is just as important if not more important than the actual workout that you do. To increase your vertical you need to be in an energy surplus so that your body has nutrients available to rebuild damaged muscle tissue. A good trick to keeping track of whether you are in a surplus is to keep a food log. For every pound of muscle you gain, you need to eat 4 calories more than you burn per day.
You should also be eating plenty of protein as this is a necessary building block for your muscles. Carbohydrates are also important as they give you quick energy for workouts, especially the explosive kind. You should also try to eat good fats as these are necessary for hormone production and actually help you to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
There are a lot of other things to consider too such as micronutrients, fiber, water and many other things. This is all beyond the scope of this article though so if you want to know more then do some extra research on diet.
I want to start right now!
Okay, if you haven’t been doing any kind of exercises before now then we don’t recommend that you start with jumping and stretching exercises. It is best to start slowly and build up your calf, quads and glutes muscles so that you prevent injury and also get the most out of your training.
The “Beginner workout” is the best place to start. You are only going to be doing a single leg calf raise, a single leg quad extension and a reverse knee bend.
The single leg exercises are the best place to start as these are the ones that are going to help you the most and you won’t put as much strain on your joints as you don’t have the balancing act of two legs to deal with. You should also be able to lift a little more weight than on the double leg exercises and it is these muscles that are going to help you jump higher. Sticking with these and the double leg exercises for at least a month or two should result in some improvements.
After a few weeks you can move on to the “intermediate” workouts where you start doing a couple of the plyometric exercises before finishing off with some more complex leg exercises.
So there you have it, all the information that you will need to get started and see great improvements in your vertical jump. As always you can check out the exercise guides and other topics in the table of contents on the right hand side of every page or for more in-depth information you can buy a jump manual from this site to help you reach your maximum vertical.
Sources & references used in this article:
Relationship between jumping ability and running performance in events of varying distance by B Hudgins, J Scharfenberg, NT Triplett… – The Journal of …, 2013 – journals.lww.com
The relationship between sprint ability, agility and vertical jump performance in young soccer players by Y Köklü, U Alemdaroğlu, A Özkan, M Koz, G Ersöz – Science & Sports, 2015 – Elsevier
A comparison between land and sand-based tests for beach volleyball assessment by D Bishop – Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 2003 – researchgate.net
Specificity of jumping, sprinting, and quick change-of-direction motor abilities by S Salaj, G Markovic – The Journal of Strength & Conditioning …, 2011 – cdn.journals.lww.com
The effect of perch diameter on escape behaviour ofAnolis lizards: laboratory predictions and field tests by JB Losos, DJ Irschick – Animal Behaviour, 1996 – Elsevier