Vertical Jump Training: Using Wave Loading to Help You Break Plateaus

When you first start jump training to improve your vertical, you will probably see some swift gains.   You are ecstatic thinking that, if the gains continue at this pace, you will be recruited by the NBA next season. But then you plateau. No matter how hard you train, you just can’t seem to increase your vertical jump height anymore. It is discouraging and frustrating, and can make you want to give up on training completely.

Don’t give up. One simple way to break vertical jump plateaus is to use wave loading.

jump training wave loading


What is Wave Loading?

Wave loading is a technique in which you adjust the rep count and the intensity during training. It is most frequently done in bodybuilding. So, instead of using the same weight for 3 reps of 10 each, a builder might do this sequence instead:

  • 50lb weight x 10
  • 70lb weight x 6
  • 60lb weight x 8

Wave loading can be increasing or decreasing, or both (like a wave). The training technique is really popular with bodybuilders, but it can be used by all athletes to improve their vertical jump and break plateaus.


The Science behind Wave Loading

Wave loading works by tricking the nerves in your muscle into thinking that an action (liking lifting a weight or jumping) is easier than what it really is. No, this isn’t some weird Jedi trick. There is actually a scientific basis for it.

When you perform the same exercise over and over (such as practicing your jump), your muscles adjust. The scientific term for this is neuromuscular adaptation. In one sense, neuromuscular adaption is good because it trains your body to be able to perform the same action over and over without getting as tired. But you don’t perform the action better! With each rep at the same intensity, your strength slowly depletes, and your muscles are no longer able to use all their explosive force.

Wave loading is great for increasing strength gains and work ability. When it comes to jump training though, the main benefit of wave loading is that it does wonders for your explosive power – and explosiveness is what you need to jump high.


How to Use Wave Loading for Vertical Jump Training

You can find a lot of wave loading workout examples online, but these are primarily made for bodybuilders looking to break lifting plateaus. The exact same principles can be applied to vertical jump training.  The Vert Shock program by Adam Folker utilizes some of the principles of wave loading in its workout routines.

To use wave loading in your vertical jump training, you will need to weigh your body before jumping. One option is to jump while holding a medicine ball. Another option is to get ankle weights to wear while jumping.   To make the most out of wave loading for your jump, you are going to need more than one weight of medicine ball and ankle weights.

When you jump with a weighted body, your body uses more motor units in the muscles. During the next set of jumps without the weight, the action will seem a lot easier, so you will be able to jump higher.

Remember, you will need to increase the weight as you decrease the number of sets. You can use wave loading in all of your training to get maximum benefits, but here is how it might look with jump practice:

  • 10 reps at 0lbs
  • 6 reps at 5lbs
  • 3 reps at 15lbs
  • 6 reps at 5lbs
  • 3 reps at 15lbs
  • 2 reps at 20lbs


If you are serious about increasing your vertical jump, I recommend checking out Vert Shock by Adam Folker.  The program has a guaranteed plan for increasing your jump height in just a few weeks.  Learn more about Vert Shock here.

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