Leaping For Joy: A Dancer’s Guide On How To Jump Higher

Are you a jumper or a turner? A question asked of every dancer at some point in their career. And while some of us naturally jump higher than others, did you know that you can train yourself into being both a jumper and a turner? It’s true! And this quick read will outline exactly how you can train to jump higher and longer than you ever imagined. higher jumps

Scientifically speaking, a training program focused on achieving higher jumps should include both weight training and plyometric training. This means that your workouts should include a mix of lifts to improve lower body power and plyometric exercises that will challenge your endurance and end range of motion strength. 

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Here’s the thing, understanding how a jump is structured allows us to train each portion of a jump to yield  more power and control. Powerful leaps and jumps are made of three phases: Eccentric, Amortization, and Concentric. 


Let’s take a look at each of these and learn how to train each section and jump higher: 


The Eccentric:

The eccentric point of your jump is two-fold. The first time you utilize this point is in  the “loading” portion of the jump this is the pre-stretch of the muscle which creates stored energy. Later, you re-enter the eccentric point of your jump as you land. This same type of pre-stretch is used for force reduction and deceleration. At this point in the jump knee and ankle stiffness are important for effective force absorption.

A great exercise for training knee and ankle stiffness for landings are pogo jumps.  Bonus? Pogo jumps will bullet proof your Achilles Tendon!

Studies suggest that eccentric training exercises can prevent injuries in dancers– especially when dancers are fatigued. The key to training eccentrically is identifying the eccentric portion of a lift and slowing the tempo down during that phase of the lift. Eccentric exercise occurs when muscles are being lengthened under tension.

For example, an eccentric squat is very similar to a standard squat. However, in an eccentric squat, the lowering portion of the move (when your calves and thighs are lengthening) is done at a slow tempo and to the lowest range of motion possible.

Another great eccentric training exercise for jumps are heels drops. Stand with your toes on the edge of a yoga block or stair, press to relévé then slowly drop the heels below the stair. 

The Amortization: 

The Amortization point in a jump is the time between the end of the eccentric phase/downward force and the concentric phase/upward force. This phase is the key to more powerful and higher jumps, because the shorter the amortization phase the more effective and powerful the plyometric movement. This is because the stored energy is used efficiently in the transition. If there is a delay between these two (like say, sitting in your plié) the stored energy created in the eccentric phase is wasted.

This is another reason why training eccentric movement to end range of motion is important. Because, the stronger your eccentric end range of motion becomes, the faster the amortization time. 

But how else can you train to increase your speed and power through the amortization phase? Plyometrics. Plyometric training will help you jump higher in general. But it will also increase your muscular and aerobic endurance, which will in turn help the amortization time. 

Some examples of plyometric exercises are: Skater hops, Broad jumps, Jump squats, split squat jumps, tuck jumps, and box jumps.


The Concentric:

The concentric point of your jump is the shortening of the muscle where the muscle contracts and produces force. This phase is assisted by the stored elastic potential energy from the eccentric cycle. The concentric phase is critical in any jump. 

How do we train the concentric point of a jump? Largely, by strength training. This study done at Valpraiso University showed that athletes who added Olympic lifts (like dead lifts and power cleans) were able to jump higher and farther than those who did not. 

Some exercises you can add to your training to build strength and power to your concentric phase are: squats, back squats, dead lifts, Romanian dead lifts, single-leg Romanian dead lifts, split squats, lunges, split squats with a push off, split squats with a power drive, Bulgarian split squats, courtesy lunges, and reverse lunges.  

Bottom line,  in order to jump higher in class and on stage, we need to be cross training with weightlifting and plyometrics and there are a lot of exercises that will yield higher jumps. What might be more helpful is to film yourself jumping and try to identify which portion of your jump needs the most work. 


Are you struggling with controlled landings? Focus on eccentric movements. 


Finding it hard to get off the floor? Combine plyometrics and weight training to shorten the amortization phase and build power to push through the concentric phase. 


Having a hard time with a specific jump or wanting an “over all” workout to jump higher?


Check out these workouts: 

Auxiliary Workout for Higher Jumps


Cross Training Exercises for Jumps


Lifts for Better Jetés


Tips and Exercises for Calypsos!


Exercises for Center Jumps


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