Training to Jump Higher – Body Limits
A very important thing I have learned in my training over the years is that human body has limits. Sometimes your body will just not want to get stronger. These times become more and more frequent as you grow older. Teenagers who are still growing can usually see improvements from just about any training strategy. Once you stop growing and start aging, training will have to be more and more precise to produce good results. Nutrition and rest will demand ever increasing attention as well.
Getting your body to respond to training can be quite difficult. When you do come across an effective training program, it will not be effective forever. For example, my freshman year of college I did a few weeks of bench pressing Monday through Friday. I did 3 sets and tried to add a rep to the workout each day. When I got to 3×10 I would increase the weight. My max bench shot up 30 pounds to 250, but then the grueling schedule caught up to me, and I stopped getting stronger. I switched to 2 more thorough days of lifting each week, hoping the new schedule would promote further gains. Instead, my bench dropped down to 230 very quickly. I went through a similar scenario again the summer after that school year, and again after last year’s basketball season ended. The point is that the human body goes through cycles with its fitness and performance level. This is something I hope to learn much more about in the future.
The progression of my vertical leap is another example. I have basically had just 3 periods of significant improvement since I first began doing squats and calf raises in 7th grade. Those happened when I was 13, 15, and 20. The first two I credit to a little bit of luck and some appropriately timed growth spurts. The third I believe I achieved by finally gaining some understanding of jumping and applying it to my vertical jump training. There were other times that I attempted to increase my vertical and experienced little to no gains. I believe this was partly due to lack of expertise, but I think the bigger reason was that my body was not always in a condition to become stronger. Long hard basketball seasons were always wearing down my body, severely limiting the potential for increased strength. (A quick sidenote… I have heard some negative things said about basketball players and their tendency to avoid the weightroom. My theory is that basketball demands so much time and energy in the gym developing skills and teamwork that basketball players’ bodies cannot recover from additional work in the weight room. So dedicated players make very few gains in the weightroom when they do lift, so they are reluctant to continue expending themselves in this way.) Even now, I have gained a lot of knowledge and understanding about jump training, but my vertical has reached a temporary plateau after a period of growth. You just simply cannot expect your body to continue responding well, even if you make intelligent adjustments to your training.
I have several vertical jump training programs available on my blog. They are all just 2 or 3 phases of 3-5 weeks, because you simply cannot plan further ahead than that. Even 3 phases is a stretch I think. In the last 6 weeks or so I have been training several friends of mine. After getting familiar with the first phase I had planned for them, they always asked what the next phase would be like. I always told them it depended on the results of the first phase.
The point is that nothing is ever guaranteed to work, because the body is not guaranteed to respond all that well. This varies from person to person too. Some people can build muscle like its nothing; others will struggle to even maintain any strength they gain. You have to be willing to try a lot of things, and you have to be willing to take time off as well. Overtraining can occur very easily. The goal is to maximize your gains during those times when your body is in the right state for growth. Then you want to do just enough to maintain your performance level until the next gains come along. I’ll be the first to admit it can be frustrating. Fortunately the results are well worth the effort.