I get a lot of questions on how to get better at explosive movements (vertical jumps, flying pushups, etc …), and I understand why: it took me some effort to optimize my body to be able to hit these moves effectively!
If you’re struggling with clap pushups or box jumps, I have some tips that can help you fly higher.
How To Lift Off
It’s easy to get discouraged when you see someone in the gym who can clap an entire symphony between pushups … while you’re still struggling with one clap. Or to see someone who makes box jumps and tuck jumps look like cake. But I’m here to assure you: their ease didn’t happen overnight.
So, when you get in to these tips, remember that developing new muscular firing systems (in this case, fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are responsible for explosive movements) takes time.
Step One: Lean Out
This isn’t meant to be a dig or anything of the sort, only to point out that excess weight that isn’t muscle can, well, make it harder to propel yourself into the air. Typically, the leaner you are, the more explosive and agile you can be. Take note: that doesn’t mean go on a crazy strict diet to maintain a ridiculously low body fat percentage so you can increase your plyometric (plyo for short) abilities – it simply means structure your diet correctly, get into doing some of my HIIT workouts every week (check them out on the app here), and focus on practicing as you lean out!
Step Two: Add Eccentric and Plyo Moves
Research on professional gymnasts (who perform a ton of jumps) has shown that the combination of plyometric movements and heavy strength training produces more “power generating capacity,” which is the very thing that will propel you into the air.
Plyo movements are essentially high-impact, jump-based movements, which are heavily incorporated into my own training, while eccentric moves are a little different. Eccentric training puts the focus on the extension, or lowering, phase of movements. For instance: instead of lowering into a squat and pushing back up at the same speed, you would lower slow and controlled into the squat, then push back up.
Studies have shown that eccentric training is one of the most effective ways to increase strength – even more effective in some instances than “standard” training. The reason for this is that lowering slow and controlled puts your muscles under a unique (and tremendous) amount of pressure, causing more muscle fibers to be utilized.
Try this workout to get an idea of the types of moves you should be doing. You’ll notice there are both plyo moves combined with eccentric moves, such as when I lower slow and controlled into a squat (eccentric) and spring up into a full jump squat (plyo):
Step Three: Mobility and Agility
Mobility and flexibility are two things that are going to help you be able to move through full ranges of motion. This is important when it comes to executing explosive movements, as your ability to spring high relies on your ability to first go deep.
To give an example of this, if your hips are very mobile and flexible, you’ll be able to sink lower and deeper into a squat. This will then provide you with more possible momentum as you thrust up and out of the squat, resulting in a high jump. However, if your hips are stiff, you may not be able to lower as far, which could provide less momentum to propel you higher!
Agility also plays a role in explosive movements, as it helps train your body to react quickly and efficiently. This builds your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are critical in any fast or explosive movement.
Try adding both mobility training and agility training into your weekly regime (you’ll also find these in my app! Grab the FREE trial below). You’ll notice your strength gains will likely benefit as well.
And Finally: Practice
To master the moves you want to master, you have to start, well … trying to do them! Even if you have to add adjustments to make them easier for now, don’t let pride stop you: DO IT! It’s the only way you’re going to be able to execute them. Starting where you are is the most important thing.