Will Calf Exercises Help Me Jump Higher? (Surprising Answer)
A pretty common question from a lot of athletes is: “Do I need to work my calf muscles for a higher vertical jump?”, or “Will calf exercises help me jump higher?”
The answer to that question is complicated.
Some think that doing strength work and a bunch of reps on your calves helps with vertical power, but that isn’t the case. However, that form of training does help some athletes build up a strength base for the lower leg.
What actually works for jumping higher is direct work with ligaments and tendons.
So, will calf exercises help you jump higher?
In reality, most athletes DON’T need huge calves to run faster or jump higher. You shouldn’t be concerned when it comes to calf size when it comes to this. Even professional basketball players, sprinters, etc. have small calf muscles under their knees/hamstring and a long achilles because their primary goal is to be faster and jump higher, not lift heavier. It’s all in the tendons and ligaments.
However, that doesn’t mean that calf exercises won’t help an athlete succeed. Working the stretch-shortening cycle of those muscles and the strength within that ligament can create increased bounciness in your step.
Well, while doing exercises for your lower legs, a newer athlete is probably training their ligaments simultaneously. But, this is a more likely case if the athlete is newer to this type of training and the body is naturally building a base… This probably wouldn’t be the case for a more experienced athlete.
Here are some things you can do instead:
DYNAMIC DRILLS TO JUMP HIGHER
Dynamic drills are really give athletes the ability to jump higher and run faster. Picture a basketball player going to dunk, or a sprinter coming out of the blocks – these actions are easily improved by consistent dynamics. And the more force you can produce the higher you’ll jump, and the quicker you’ll sprint.
Working on the balls of your feet with dynamic drills will always give you more bounce in your step than strictly lifting with your lower legs on a machine in the gym,
Many athletes experience a collapsing of their arches when they perform heavy calf raises. More than that, dynamic drills teach the athlete how to move more explosively and quickly on their feet.
If you’re wanting to gain muscle mass in the lower leg region, though, hit the gym and do those calf raises. That’s basically the only way to get bigger. You won’t get any quicker on your feet though.
But, what exactly are dynamic drills? They’re usually defined as lower intensity movements performed in a progressive sequence. Here are some examples of dynamic drills:
Pogo jumps will get you to jump as high and as fast as possible without bending your knees repeatedly without your foot or arch collapsing. This will increase how much force and power you can produce with your lower legs.
If you add weight to this drill, it really will establish greater power in your calf tendons.
This drill is very versatile and can be manipulated for a variety of different purposes. For example, if you want to advance this drill for vertical jump, perform it on a single leg while emphasizing the height of your jump. If you want more speed, perform this drill while emphasizing as little ground contact time as possible. If you want more lateral power, perform them for distance pushing out laterally.
There are numerous ways to use this drill and you can’t do enough of them.
Low Squat Jumps
Low squat jumps can not only train the achilles tendon to operate at the right length and the right time, but to also improve your balance and coordination for performance.
These are kind of advanced, but they’re highly effective at targeting the ankle and calf.
When you perform low squat jumps, make sure the hips don’t sink or rise while you’re jumping. Keep the tension in the hip and knee so you isolate the calves and ankles. Target them as much as possible.
The Truth About Vertical Jump
To truly get an impressive vertical jump, you need a variety of tools, including:
- Lifts that elicit power adaptations
- Core training
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