If you are an athlete, you probably want to increase your vertical jump height performance for your sport. Most strength and conditioning programs will include some form of plyometric or speed-strength exercise to develop your vertical jump.
But, do deadlifts help vertical jump? After 10-weeks of deadlifting, jump performance has been shown to improve by 7%. Deadlifts develop the force output of the legs and hips by strengthening the bottom position similar to the bottom of a vertical jump. Deadlifts also increase tendon stiffness and rate of force development, both critical to jumping.
In this article, we will look at how deadlifts can help with increasing your vertical jump, how to implement it into training, and other considerations you need to take if you want to improve your jump performance.
Before leaving, check out my other articles on jump performance:
How Do Deadlifts Increase Vertical Jump?
In order to understand how a deadlift increases a vertical jump, we need to understand what contributes to a vertical jump performance.
A vertical jump or a countermovement jump is when you dip down and rapidly launch yourself vertically in the air as high as you can.
In order to be able to jump, you need to have the strength to overcome your own body weight and so we can appreciate that there is a minimum amount of required relative strength. What I mean by relative strength is how strong you are relative to your body weight.
We also need to be able to rapidly decelerate and produce a lot of force in a short period of time as we rapidly accelerate upwards.
Here are 3 ways that deadlifts can help with increasing vertical jump height performance:
1. Deadlifts Increases the Rate of Force Development
In a study split into two groups of novice individuals, there was a control and training group. The training group was given deadlifts twice a week for 10 weeks with a prescription of 5 sets of 5 twice a week. The training group managed to increase their vertical jump height on average by over 7%.
The important thing to note with this group is that these were relatively untrained individuals who did not previously have much of a structured physical activity routine. Therefore, if you are already a well-trained athlete, you might not see similar results.
The research suggests that the carryover came from the fact that both the initial pull of the deadlift and the vertical jump needed the production of high levels of force in a short time period.
If you’re worried that heavy deadlifts will make you a slower athlete, then check out my article on Does Powerlifting Make You Slower.
2. Deadlifts Replicate the Position Where You Jump From
If you were to watch someone’s body position when they perform a vertical jump and the bottom position of a deadlift, you can see that the position is almost identical.
So in the perspective of how much deadlifts have a carryover to a vertical jump, there is a good relationship. The deadlifts will at least carry over the initial push into the ground when you are about to leap after the dip or countermovement.
If you are weak in this position, you will not be able to propel yourself as hard as you can thus restricting how high you can actually jump.
Strength and conditioning experts refer to a specific quality of a vertical jump called an impulse.
This is the product between force and time. It refers to how much force you can create in a period of time.
So if you strengthen the position of the bottom of a vertical jump, you may be able to increase the impulse.
3. Deadlifts Increase Tendon Stiffness
Tendons attach muscle to bone, and tendons and muscles form a unit which is referred to as the tendon-muscle unit. Deadlifts are a big strength exercise that can cause changes in the quality of the muscle as well as the tendons. Strength training has been shown to increase tendon stiffness.
The reason why this is important is because if you were to perform a movement such as a vertical jump, the muscles contract to create force and thus propel you off the ground.
Now previously before strength training, a tendon has a potential to stretch when the muscles contract, which consequently leads to absorbing some of the force from the muscle. If you increase tendon stiffness, that means the muscle-tendon unit can work more efficiently and force from the muscle contraction will not leak through the tendon stretching.
This will ultimately lead to you being able to produce more force and potentially jump higher.
Who Should Deadlift to Increase Vertical Jump?
Deadlifts will not necessarily increase everyone’s vertical jump performance. It will be more effective on some and not as much on others.
Here are examples of people who will benefit most from doing deadlifts to increase vertical jump:
- Those who have never done strength training
- Young athletes
- Those who have had a sedentary lifestyle
- Those who are new to sports
- Those who has less than 1.5x bodyweight deadlift
How to Deadlift to Increase Vertical Jump? (4 Tips)
Tip #1: Conventional Deadlift for Vertical Jump
Most of the studies behind deadlift for vertical jump height performance are based on a conventional stance, which is also a similar stance you would be in if you were to perform a vertical jump.
For this reason, you can be confident that you will benefit from choosing a conventional stance deadlift to train your vertical jump. Sometimes coaches teach the idea that your deadlift stance should be the stance you have when you do a vertical jump.
Tip #2: Trap Bar Deadlift for Vertical Jump
The trap bar, also known as a hex bar, is a hexagonal-shaped bar where you stand in the middle of the bar.
The positions your hips and knees are in are very similar except for the fact you can lean your shin slightly more forward with the trap bar and create a narrower angle with the ankles. This is because of the fact that the Olympic barbell is in the way during a conventional stance deadlift.
Tip #3: Sumo Deadlift for Vertical Jump
The sumo deadlift may not have as much of a carry over compared to the conventional and trap bar due to the position you are in, but it can replicate some positions you might find yourself in during some court or field sports when you need to jump.
I would not suggest a maximum width stance that some powerlifters will take, but more of a narrow stance sumo.
Tip #4: Deadlift Explosively
Choosing a specific deadlift variation is not the only factor you need to think about with regards to helping vertical jump performance.
Research has shown that the rate of force development can be improved through fast velocity resistance training.
It is therefore also important thinking about how you perform the deadlifts in training, therefore sets, reps, intensity and proximity to failure will be important.
Sample Deadlift Program For Vertical Jump
Here is an example of a 9 week deadlift program to help you increase vertical jump performance.
It is broken down into 3 phases: a volume phase, an intensity phase and a power phase.
One thing to note is that the deadlift repetitions need to be executed with maximal intent to lift as explosively as possible.
So, even though you might see a ‘light weight’ prescribed, lift it as fast as possible.
Phase 1: Volume Phase
3×5 @ 30% of 1RM
4×5 @ 30% of 1RM
5×5 @ 30% of 1RM
Phase 2: Intensity Phase
5×5 @ 32.5% of 1RM
4×5 @ 35% of 1RM
3×5 @ 37.5% of 1RM
Phase 3: Power Phase
5×3 @ 40% of 1RM
5×3 @ 42.5% of 1RM
5×3 @ 45% of 1RM
Other Ways To Increase Vertical Jump
There are numerous other ways and even better ways to increase vertical jump performance. These include other exercises and other modalities too.
Here are 3 ways that you can improve vertical jump height:
Squats are a great strength exercise alternative to deadlifts and can even be more effective than deadlifts. They are slightly more knee dominant in nature. Squats are a versatile movement and can be performed in different ways with different pieces of equipment.
Perform Squat Jump
The squat jump is a very specific speed-strength exercise that is similar to the countermovement jump or vertical jump.
The difference between the two is that the squat jump is performed without a countermovement or dip, so you hold yourself in a static half squat position momentarily before jumping.
This eliminates the reliance on a stretch reflex where you rely on the elastic nature of your muscle-tendon units.
Perform Hip Thrusts
Hip thrusts are a really good strength exercise alternative to deadlifts. They are a bit more hip dominant in nature meaning they target the glutes a lot more, which is important as glute strength is associated with jump height performance.
Plyometric exercises are more specific to improving vertical jump performance in terms of modality. They are strictly performed with bodyweight only. Example exercises that are plyometric are hurdle jumps, drop jumps, depth jumps.
Deadlifts are effective for increasing vertical jumps up to a certain extent.
When you do plateau from this exercise, you will need to move along the continuum of exercise modality that is more specific to vertical jumps and more explosive in nature.
Example modalities are Olympic weightlifting, plyometric training, and jump training itself.
About The Author: Norman Cheung ASCC, British Powerlifting Team Coach
Norman Cheung is a powerlifting coach and an accredited strength and conditioning coach under the UKSCA. He has been coaching powerlifting since 2012 and has been an IPF Team GB coach since 2016. He has experience with coaching a variety of lifters from novices to international medallists and international university teams. Along side coaching, he takes interest in helping powerlifters take their first step into coaching. He currently runs his coaching services at strongambitionscoaching.com