Regardless of your reasoning for hitting the gym, training for performance is going to be your best bet when it comes to making the most of your efforts. Sure, getting bigger and stronger is of the utmost importance, but adding in some explosive work will improve your physique while improving your athleticism.
I mean, let’s face it, if you can’t use your strength, then it’s all for naught. Jim Wendler even said a big reason for developing his wildly successful 5/3/1 program was that, “even though I’d recently squatted 1000 pounds, I really wasn’t strong. I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t use this strength for anything other than waddling up to a monolift and squatting.”
Adding jumps, short sprints, and medicine ball throws into your training is a surefire way to improve your power, ability to handle force, and help keep you from getting hurt. 2-3 sets of 3-5 jumps after your warm up and before your strength work 2-3 times a week is really the sweet spot so you can keep each jump explosive and each landing soft.
Just please don’t pull one of these numbers:
Jumping in training isn’t about testing how high you can tuck your knees into your chest, and you really should never miss a landing. It’s about exerting as much force as possible into the ground to propel you as high as possible, then landing in the same position you started in, softly and smoothly.
Box jumps, hurdle jumps, bounds, and single leg jumping are all important and valuable. Here’s how I progress single leg jumps.
Use each phase for 2-4 weeks, and, if it looks and feels athletic and explosive, move on to the next progression. So, do 2-3 sets of 3-5 single leg box jumps on your lower body day for 2-4 weeks, then, if you’re ready, move on to single leg hurdle hops with a stick for a few weeks, and so on. Remember, you have to earn the right to move on to the next progression! Double leg, linear, and multi-directional plyometrics are all important as well, but I’ll save that for another day. Until then, get the wheels growing and start jumping higher, running faster, and feeling like an athlete!