Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Increase Vertical Jump & Learn to Muscle Up

These are probably the 2 most common requests I get when talking to people about training: "how can I jump further / higher?" and "I can do loads of pull ups, but I can't muscle up. How can I learn?"

I posted these videos earlier in the year and the feedback has been great! 
Big thanks to Will Wayland at and to Scramblog for sharing the videos. As always, big thanks to for letting us experiment and film there.
I've since had emails from people all over the world asking further questions on the techniques and telling me what great progress they've made on their jump / pulling power.

So here's a quick reminder of the French Contrast method for increasing jumping power:
Remember, this type of training is suitable for no more than 6 weeks at a time. You may also want to work an eccentric phase and an isometric phase to increase your speed of movement (do I feel another couple of videos coming on?)

Being strong is great, but if 2 athletes are equal in strength, the one that is more reactive and can deliver the power faster and more efficiently will be the better performer.
Power is nothing without control; would you drive a Ferrari with ineffective brakes and suspension?

And so onto my pulling power video. Everyone seems to want to muscle up!
Again, I've had lots of feedback on this one with great positive comments on people's progress.

If you take nothing else from this video, remember this one thing: PULL HIGHER!
Most people train pull ups to get their chin above the bar, by the very nature of a muscle up we need to get the body higher (up into full front support really). So you need to train HIGH pull ups, pulling your elbows back and getting the bar to the bottom of your chest. If you can't do this yet then train the eccentric contraction; get yourself high on the bar (by jumping or standing on a box if necessary) then lower yourself down for the count of 5 or 6 seconds. Repeating this in 3 sets of 5 reps and you'll soon be very aware of your lats!
The other part of the muscle up that is often overlooked is the top phase. Remember the muscle up is a pulling and a pushing exercise.
So you need to train your dips, ideally ring dips. And as with the pull up, you need to increase your range of motion; try to get your thumbs to touch your shoulders then push up from there. You'll almost certainly find that you are weak at the bottom of the range. You can use a band to assist you initially, or train the eccentric phase (down).
If you find these dips are completely out of reach to begin with, you can also use push ups with the elbows tucked into your body to isolate the triceps.
Although to be brutally honest, if you can't perform a dip be aware that you may have a long way to go before you can muscle up.

The video touches on Isometric contractions to build strength too. It's worth training static holds for 15 - 30 seconds both at the top of your pull up and the bottom of your dip (or push up).

One last point on the muscle up; don't struggle up there one arm at a time or use your elbows on top of the bar.
A very good coach once told me:
"Practice makes permanent" 
That is to say that practice only makes 'perfect' if you practice perfect technique. Practice the wrong thing and bad habits will be hard to break.
When learning to muscle up always try to perform the transition (from pull up to dip) with both arms at the same time. Always aim to perform the movement correctly, don't teach your body bad habits just to get on top of the bar.

Good luck!

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