A few inches’ difference in your jump height can significantly improve your performance in various sports, including basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics. Many athletes run for an all-purpose warm-up before practice, but will running help you jump higher?
Running can help you jump higher because of its weight loss and cardiovascular benefits. If you do it the right way, it can work as an effective warm-up without decreasing your jump height. Choose to sprint instead of jogging to avoid overexercising slow-twitch muscles and rest your legs. Furthermore, limit your sprints to less than 30 miles per week to allow your legs to rest for recovery.
The warm-up exercise you choose will definitely affect your athletic performance. Studies have shown that static stretching negatively affects jumping height. At the same time, ballistic stretches gave either positive or neutral impact when tested. Finally, dynamic stretches mimicking sport-specific movements enhanced the leap height.
Running is different since it’s a non-stretching warm-up protocol with a debatable impact on jumping performance. In this article, we’ll share the different views on the effectiveness of running to achieve higher jumps. We’ll briefly explain the science behind it and further steps to perform great leaps.
Running will help you jump higher than someone who doesn’t run at all. The cardiovascular benefits, weight loss, and increased leg strength will help, however running isn’t optimal training for someone who wants to maximize their vertical. The muscles used are different, and strength training would be more effective.
Running is a basic warm-up that will provide the essential cardiovascular fitness required for all sports, but will running help you jump higher? That answer is more complicated.
Running Has General Benefits for Jumping
Besides improving cardiovascular health, jumping will definitely help you lose extra weight, which will increase your jump height. Assuming two athletes have the same explosive leg strength, the one who weighs less will be able to jump higher. Considering this strength to bodyweight ratio will help you plan holistically. For instance, you can work on your diet and choose lighter trainers.
Slow-twitch and fast-twitch are two types of muscle fibers in your body with two different scopes of work. Slow-twitch consumes energy at a slower pace, enabling them to work longer and fuel prolonged activities. On the other hand, fast-twitch muscles will give you an energy burst but for a limited period, instantly retiring afterward. Long-distance running activates slow-twitch muscles while jumping higher requires training of fast-twitch muscles.
Pick dynamic stretching if you’re looking for a warm-up exercise that will directly increase the vertical jump height. Dynamic stretching engages players in movements similar to those of the target sport but with lower intensity and speed.
They have been proven to improve flexibility, power, and jump height, especially when extra weights are added. For instance, jumping the rope can be one of the best warm-ups because it mimics the muscular movement of vertical jumps.
Marathon runners have a shorter average jump height of 13.5 inches when compared to untrained individuals who can jump to an average height of 20.9 inches. This has been attributed to the predominance of the marathoners’ slow twitch muscles.
Still, many people have reported a decreased jump height after committing to running, so can appears that distance running negatively affects jump height. David Costill wrote an entire book on runners and the impact of long-distance running on jump height.
Costill mentioned an interesting case of Lou Castagnola, a marathoner who led a sedentary lifestyle after years of athletic training. His jump height was measured before he quit running and three years later. Surprisingly, while his VO2 max significantly declined, his vertical jump height almost doubled from 11.5 inches to 20.5 inches. The author concludes that Castagnola’s explosive leg strength has increased, impacting jump height more than his physical activity.
Opposingly, another study has found that long-distance running of two miles increased the leap height of college-aged females. The results were reasonably consistent with other cited studies, which confirmed that runners have high jumping performance because both activities depend on the athlete’s power.
However, the study mentioned earlier has some limitations, including focusing on one gender and the absence of a control group. Most importantly, the study relies on a single experiment and doesn’t report the long-term effects.
Still, the study has specified 2 miles (around 17 minutes) of running, and this is where we need to strike a balance. Too much of any good thing can be harmful, so you’ll definitely kill your jump if you run over 30 miles per week. Moreover, keep in mind that sprinting positively impacts the jump height while jogging has the opposite effect. Frequent jogging decreases the muscle mass in your legs and deprives your legs of the rest they need for recovery.
Vertical jump height is most effectively increased with plyometrics and other strengthening exercises like those focusing on core strength and explosive lower body strength. Exercises like squats, lunges, Bulgarian split squats, and calf raises strengthen legs. Crunches, leg raises, and planks strengthen the core.
Before committing to any program or exercise plan, you need to measure your initial jump height to get an idea of what actually works for you and to track progress for motivation. You can measure your vertical jump height with or without professional equipment. Retest every 3-5 weeks of your program.
Many athletes don’t recognize that lower core strength can drastically impact their jump. Both running and vertical jumping depend on transferring energy through the body effectively. You need to train balance, posture, mobility, and stability, all improved with core-strengthening exercises. One of the most effective core exercises is the single-leg squat hold which has beginner and advanced variations.
Explosive strength depends on the speed of muscle contraction regardless of the contraction type or the movement speed. Practical explosive training has two goals: to make the movement faster and to increase the force at the early contraction stages. Start with stair jumps for a simple lower-body exercise that needs no equipment. Take advantage of a deep outdoor staircase and perform quick and forceful upward jumps along the staircase.
We’ve previously mentioned that sprinting increases vertical jump height. Other practical exercises include squats, agility drills, lunges, and step-ups. Several agility drills include jumping, generally improving power, speed, coordination, and sport-specific skills. Moreover, step-ups are simple, effective jump height boosters that can be done anywhere. They enhance the strength and speed of the legs, improve cardiovascular health, and have a low risk of injury.
Will running help you jump higher? Our final answer is yes, but you need to run smart, not hard. We’ve explained that you need to perform sprinting, not jogging. Sprinting engages the same muscles required to complete a higher leap, while jogging depletes leg strengths and gives little time for rest. Additionally, several lower body and core-strengthening exercises will enhance your jump height without running.