Today I’m sharing the two best isometric strength exercises to develop vertical jump. These drills can also apply to your horizontal broad jump, and overall athletic performance, however they’re most tailored to improving your vertical game.

Isometric Strength Exercises for Vertical Jump

Isometric strength training is a bit different than your typical “pick this up and put it down.” Instead, you’ll be holding a position using various degrees of resistance for an extended period of time. The more advanced you get the longer period of time you can hold it. Isometric strength is so valuable for building strength and power because it puts the muscles under more tension for great periods of time resulting in the recruitment of more motor units.

Each of these drills work isometric strength in a different way, but will challenge you in the best way to build up your vertical jump. Remember that isometric training translates over to the degree of what you train it at. This means if you hit your vertical jump from a quarter squat, then you should train isometrics from a quarter squat.

Back Squat w/ Isometric Pause

The first drill is the basic back squat, but using an isometric pause at the bottom. One of my favorite strategies for improving upon vertical jump is accommodating resistance in the form of bands. Using the bands increases tension as you move through the movement, forcing you to accelerate and drive through the top portion of your motion.

To start, set up a barbell on your squat rack at your proper height. You’re then going to wrap long bands on both outer edges of the barbell, then around the bottom of the squat rack. Create just enough resistance that you can fully stand with the barbell on your shoulders. Un-rack, taking a few steps back to set up for your back squat. Keep the feet right underneath the hips with the toes pointing forward. Hinge the hips back slightly, as you sit into your squat taking one second to lower down – under control. At the bottom, hold for one second at full depth (just above parallel).

Athlete Performs Back Squat

The most common error for this drill is just passively sitting into your squat. Instead, focus on constantly “screwing your feet” into the floor. If you just passively sit back with an 85% load on your back, all the intrinsic muscle along the spine are going to take the brunt of that. Instead you want to reduce that compensation by actively engaging the glutes the entire time.

Think about staying around 80 – 85% of your one rep max weight. Your isometric pause needs to be long enough that you can reap the benefit of maximum motor recruitment. To progress this we want to move to an X|4-8|X tempo. What this means is you lower down to just about parallel, stick that position, and hold for anywhere up to 8 seconds. Then you’ll explode out of it through the bands. Be sure to keep a slight hinge position with the ribcage just in front of the hips.

Hit high-quality reps, making sure you produce torque through the hips by “screwing the feet” into the ground.

Trap Bar Deadlift

The next drill we’re using to build isometric strength for vertical jump is the trap bar deadlift.

This modality is a little different than the isometric squat. I typically don’t have athletes do a typical trap bar deadlift where you pause at the bottom since it doesn’t fully work the hips. In my experience, when doing a load over 85%, athletes typically lose this up top and their upper back/shoulders round downwards under the weight.

That’s why I like to use what’s called overcoming isometrics. Here you’re actually pulling against an immobile object. Set up pins on the lower portion of your squat rack (you can have this set up from your isometric squats).

I don’t have athletes do this bilaterally, (with both feet below the hips) because oftentimes the thoracic spine can’t withstand this load as explained before. I’m a big fan of modifiying this movement by going single leg with one foot inside the trap bar, and the other back behind you in a short lunge. Drive up, pulling the trap bar against the pins for an isometric hold.


Athlete Performs Trap Bar Split Squat

My newest program was created as a modified version of triphasic training.

This is a particular style of strength and conditioning developed by coach Cal Dietz, and it was through this style of training that I was able to get over my plateau and hit a 44″ vertical.

Since then after years of experimenting, I’ve found a way to modify this style of training (with isometric strength exercises) that I’ll share more about in my upcoming program below.

Not only is this programming based off some of the most up-to-date scientific literature from the training world… IT WORKS.

The results we’re seeing at my gym prove this, day in and day out.

To learn more about:

  • How I’ve modified triphasic training for vertical jump development
  • The exact ways I periodize vertical jump training
  • More isometric strength training exercises

Be sure to check out the Elite Vertical Academy. 

Otherwise known as the only vertical jump program proven to push your genetic potential and explode your vertical jump by 8-12 inches in only 16 weeks. 



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