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True Single Leg Plyometrics

by: Joel Smith

There are a lot of exercises available for people out there to increase their vertical. Obviously, getting hyped up, going out and training hard on actually practicing jumping higher will yield the Depth_Drop_Jump1greatest benefits regarding the improvement of vertical development.  Aside from this, there are some awesome supporting exercises that will allow an athlete to extract maximal vertical from their body.

I want to share with you today, 3 incredible exercises that will assist in packing on vertical jump inches, specifically in the single leg department.

When considering that the forces present in a single leg takeoff can exceed 600kg in a time frame of under .2 seconds, it is important to select exercises that will offer similar force parameters. Perhaps my three favorite exercises for this development are:

Single Leg Hurdle Hop

The single leg hurdle hop is a wonderful exercise to teach an athlete the specific forces of single leg jumping for two main reasons. One is that very high forces in the vertical plane are present, especially in the ankle joint (of critical performance to single leg jumping). The second is that the hurdles offer a clear and present goal for the athletes during the execution of the exercise. This goal will significantly reduce the ground contact time in the jump to a level close to what is actually encountered in a single leg takeoff.

Single Leg Hurdle Hops

Sample sets and reps: 4-6 x 4 hurdles each leg, or 6-8 x 3 hurdles for each leg

Depth Jump – High Box

A standard depth jump is performed by dropping off of a box (up to 1 meter or more in height) and then upon ground contact, rebound jumping off of the ground as high as possible. Dr. Yuri Verkhoshanski, who invented this particular jump,  recommended box heights of around 1 meter in height for developing reactive strength in trained athletes.  Reactive ability off of the ground is very important for those athletes who want to achieve great single leg verticals.  The higher box height will place a premium on the eccentric strength of the jumper, which is extremely important in a unilateral jump… how the body handles the eccentric force will make or break the jump.

Intense Russian Depth Jumps

Depth jump from a very high box!

Sample sets and reps: 15 sets of 1 rep with 1′ rest in between efforts.


Multi-Jumps are 3-5 bounds with a set/competitive goal for distance achieved. They can be performed with a standing or running start, but they will always be performed for all out effort. They are typically landed in a sand pit, but this doesn’t always have to be the case. They can be performed from jogging in, sprinting in, standing, or one of my favorites, standing on top of a box (around  20-30cm tall).  Multi-Jumps are an excellent way to build ‘fast contacts’ in regards to unilateral strength. Think of the depth jumps as building power and  the multi jumps as building speed.

Speed Bounds

Standing Triple Jump

Sample sets and reps: 5 bounds from a running start. x 5 efforts. Standing triple jump for distance from 20cm box starting position.

One of the binding factors of these particular jumps is that all of them can be performed with various goals in mind.  These exercises are all very brief and explosive, so maximal effort should always be put into every repetition.  When the power drops during any session, it is typically a good idea to end the workout, or at least the exercise and move on to something else.  Remember, when developing the CNS, maximal power is placed at a premium!

I’ll leave you with a sample training day for enhancing single leg jumping for general athleticism.

Training Single Leg Workout


Sprints for 20m x 3 (full recovery)

Sprints for 30m x 3 (full recovery)

Maximal jumps for height, 2 legs from a run: x 5

Maximal jumps for height, 1 leg from short run: x 5 each leg

Maximal jumps for distance, 1 leg from short run: x 5 each leg 10 x 1 depth jump from high box (70-100cm) over a hurdle barrier

Standing Triple Jump: x 3