How often have you seen sensationalized headlines like, “gain 5 inches on your vertical jump in 5 weeks!” in the vertical jump training industry? You almost always see these ridiculous claims on sites with a heavy affiliate marketing focus. They simply want you to buy their program.
Today however, we’re going to dispel all the myths surrounding what’s possible when it comes to vertical jump training.
I’ll give you a far more realistic sense of how long it’ll take you to get your vertical jump to where you want it to be.
It’s possible to gain anywhere from 3-12 inches on your vertical jump over the course of a year, depending largely on age, physical development, training age, and genetics. It’s also possible to double your vertical jump over the course of many years of consistent training.
Let’s take a closer look at what results you can expect when you start taking jump training seriously.
How Long To Increase Vertical Jump For A Beginner?
If you’re relatively young or inexperienced when it comes to training, you stand to make the biggest vertical jump gains in the shortest period of time. Below I’ll discuss accounts from two separate vertical jump coaches about just how rapidly they were able to increase their vertical jumps in their early athletic days.
But first, let me explain why you’re able to increase your vertical so substantially when you’re young and inexperienced.
Baby Giraffe Phase
Shout out to Paul Fabritz of PJF Performance who came up with this very fitting analogy.
When you’re a young athlete, 10-19 years old, and haven’t had much experience with resistance training, or even jumping for that matter, you effectively resemble a baby giraffe.
- You have terrible coordination.
- You have terrible vertical jump mechanics.
- You have terrible strength.
But you also have the world ahead of you and with the right training will be able to fix this stuff very quickly.
During this phase, as you get more experience jumping and begin lifting weights, you’ll be able to start seeing some pretty good improvements. On top of that, puberty is going make you jump higher even if you weren’t training.
While you’re still ironing out the creases on technique and developing some fundamental strength, you might expect to gain anywhere from 2-5 inches while in your baby giraffe phase. You’d probably have gained close to that without even trying just from letting puberty do its thing.
You won’t start making serious vertical jump gains until you’re past that phase, however. Hopefully your baby giraffe phase doesn’t last more than a year or two – if you’re 10 years old, it’s going to be longer than if you were 15 simply because you’re further away from realizing puberty gains.
Vertical Jump Growth Spurt
After the baby giraffe phase, you’ll likely make some significant vertical jump gains without specifically doing much to get them. This usually comes about as a result of puberty and your training all catching up to your vertical jump at the same time.
This happened to me when I was in high school training for volleyball. My spike reach went from 336cm to 341cm in just a couple weeks. In my case this was a combination of peaking in my training, having less school workload, and being well rested.
It’s hard to say how much you’ll gain during this phase. It might be a lot or it might be a little. All you can do is train hard and smart and see what hand you get dealt! You might expect to gain anywhere from 3-12 inches over the course of a year.
Let’s take a quick look at two examples of beginner progress. Both of these guys are world renowned vertical jump coaches.
How Long It Took Paul Fabritz To Increase His Vertical Jump
Paul was a basketballer in college and eventually became one of the most sought after NBA performance coaches. He went through a pretty dramatic vertical jump growth spurt after graduating high school.
In one year I put 12 inches on my vertical jump. In one year I went from barely touching the rim to throwing down full windmill dunks, 360 dunks, I got faster, got stronger: every physical component was leveled up.1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKv94wq6N-g&t=738s&ab_channel=PJFPerformance
That’s a pretty ridiculous growth spurt. His coaches said it was absolutely unheard of to see someone stay around the same height but jump that much higher in just a year.
Perhaps the craziest part is that he gained an additional five inches on his vertical jump the following year! In just two years, he’d gained 17 inches on his vertical.
Definitely don’t expect these sorts of gains, by the way. This is probably a one in a million transformation. Most of us will have far less impressive results. But at least you get an idea of what’s possible.
How Long It Took Kelly Baggett To Increase His Vertical Jump
Kelly is the author of the Vertical Jump Bible and has taught me a lot about the science of the vertical jump.
When Kelly got interested in the vertical jump, he measured it at 23 inches. Over the course of a year he was able to increase it to 27 inches purely from jumping. No weight training, just a lot of jumps.
Over the next 10 years he improved that 27 inch vertical to a 45 inch jump for a total improvement of 22 inches or almost a 100% vertical jump increase over the course of a career.
He was able to achieve such an impressive vertical through strength training, a lot of jumping, and he also grew a little taller. He also concedes that he had good structure/physicality for jumping and good neural efficiency.
When discussing this topic, Kelly often mentions that reaching physical maturity plays a big role in your overall improvement. Another big factor is simply correcting your jump mechanics. And lastly it’s about increasing your strength as well as the neural adaptation to jumping efficiently.
When asked, he says it’s very realistic to increase your vertical jump by 30% with the proper training and if you train for long enough, most people will be able to do considerably better.
If you’re young and long-legged with a thin structure, a good nervous system, and poor natural strength levels you can probably expect a lot more – as you’ll have a lot of unfilled potential to work with. If you’re older and short legged with a slow nervous system and good natural strength levels your potential gains might be towards the lower end.2http://www.higher-faster-sports.com/HowMuchCanVertBeImproved.html
Vertical Jump Gains Are Not Consistent Over Time
I seriously wish they were. If I could gain an inch on my vertical jump every three months, I’d be thrilled. The truth is that vertical jump gains are not linear.
Improvements to your vertical will come in patches or spurts and there will be long periods of time where there’s no improvement or even a small step backwards.
If you’re using proper training periodization, you should be going through training phases where your focus is on strength development and you aren’t actively working on jumping as much. During these times you can expect your vertical to suffer.
However when you’re coming to the end of a six week power and plyometrics phase, which has come after a six week strength building phase, you can expect to cash in on the last 4 months of training with some serious vertical jump gains.
As Training Age Increases, Rate Of Improvement Declines
This should be fairly obvious, but you’re not going to make the same gains in your 10th year of vertical jump training as you did in your first.
After you’ve been training for a while, you’ll reach a point where simply maintaining the vertical you do have is requiring all your effort. You might be able to grind out half an inch to an inch each year, but you’re well beyond the point of your vertical jump growth spurt now.
Now if you train really hard every year and increase your squat by 20-30lbs and periodize your training properly, you could definitely still see a 2-4 inch vertical jump increase even as a seasoned athlete.
But you have to understand that making any gains after years of consistent training is a huge grind. To actually see any improvements, you really need to do all the small stuff right like ensure your diet, sleep, and recovery is optimized.
Can You Increase Your Vertical Jump Instantly?
It is actually possible to instantly increase your vertical jump, temporarily. This can be a great tool when testing your vertical to get you jumping as high as possible. It has to do with a concept called post-activation potentiation where we’re effectively tricking the CNS into firing up more motor units in the muscle fibers.
So if you need to jump higher right this minute, check out my article on post-activation potentiation in vertical jump training.
At the end of the day, how quickly and by how much you’ll increase your vertical jump is going to vary a lot depending on so many factors, many which are out of your control.
My philosophy is to simply put yourself in the best possible position to maximize the gains that do come your way.
Train hard. Train smart. Don’t get injured. Get stronger. Eat right. Sleep right. Nail all the small things each and every day and if you’re able to do it consistently for long enough, you’ll reach your maximum vertical jump potential.
That could be 40 inches, it might be 50 inches. Just show up and put the work in for a long period of time, and you’ll likely be very pleased with the progress you make.