Jacob Hiller is one of the most badass vertical jump coaches in the world. Hilller has helped everyone from high school kids to professional NBA and Olympic athletes increase their vertical.
Jacob is also the creator of The Jump Manual, the most comprehensive vertical jump training program available.
And today I scored an exclusive interview with him on my site and approach on helping athletes increase their vertical.
Check it out below.
1) Can you give us a quick overview of who you are and what you do, Jacob?
I help people jump higher, run faster and become more athletic players, mostly for basketball players but since our start we’ve worked with so many different players from so many different sports.
Previously I was a professional basketball player. I still keep my vertical leap to over 40 inches and I’m just obsessed with getting people as explosive as possible.
And my background is I tried everything as a kid and it didn’t work at the time. Out of high school, I’ve done basically every program on the planet and my 2nd year of college was when I finally figured out how to do it and got my vertical jump to 44 inches.
I then played pro basketball in Mexico and ended up writing The Jump Manual about how to do it (increase your vertical). And the book took off and we’ve had a lot of people become successful with it.
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell.
2) What is the biggest mistake you see people make when trying to increase their vertical?
The biggest mistake is the training protocol people use.
Previously, a popular training program would tell people to do repetitions of 100, 500, and even 1000 reps. And when you do high repetitions like this, you’re training your anaerobic endurance. You’re not training yourself to be explosive. If you want to be explosive, you have to do very low reps (I don’t recommend anything over 8 reps). A sprinter isn’t going to train his sprinting speed by running a marathon, so it’s the same kind of principle.
Train at an explosive level, quality is what counts, not quantity.
3) What are the top 3 exercises you would have someone do if they wanted to jump higher?
You need to understand that jumping higher is mostly about 3 things.
First of all you need to have enough strength or else your body will think you’re too heavy. If you’re not strong, your body will be weighed down and you won’t be light on your feet.
Second of all, even if you’re strong, you still have to be quick. There are a lot of strong guys out there who can’t move their muscles quickly. So you need to be strong and quick. And when you’re strong and quick, then you become explosive.
Third, you need to have the technique and coordination down. So you can be strong and quick but strength and quickness are going to be applied to a specific movement. So if you’re not able to apply that strength and explosive ability to a specific movement, that’s not going to do you any good.
For example, if you’re uncoordinated, you could have all the strength and even the quickness necessary but you’re not able to apply it to a specific movement.
#1 would be squats. There’s a lot of different kinds of squats. I would say the squat is the top exercise, but not just any squat. Some types of squats won’t help you at all. You need to do the proper type of squat. So…working on your strength I have a specific exercise, I call them “joint angle specific squats.” And this is when you use the exact angle that you would jump with as your squatting angle.
And the #2 exercise would probably be a jump squat so that’s an exercise where you’re actually getting off the ground with perfect landing and jumping back into the air.
And #3 would be a plyometric exercise related to the sports specific movement, so you’re really covering all your bases with these 3 exercises.
Obviously, your training economy…your training economics (how much time you can train) is going to permit you to basically do all the best exercises, and that’s what I recommend you to do – to find everything you can do and do all of those things. It would be differnet if there were many things you couldn’t do, but there’s really not that many things.
Once you have those down, you need to master those exercises and movements and continue to make progress.
4) Would you say nutrition is important for boosting your vertical, or is it just about training correctly?
Nutrition is very important and can be a ‘make or break’ in your vertical but it will support everything else you’re doing or it will undermine everything you’re doing.
Nutrition will help your muscles grow faster, it will help you get your nervous system moving better…
It’s definitely about training correctly but you have to have that good foundation of diet and nutrition.
5) What about stretching? How important is stretching to increasing your vertical?
Stretching is important for a lot of reasons.
Stretching is important because it’s really good for your ligaments, it’s really good for your joints, it’s really good for your tendons and you’re muscles.
You’re teaching your body to go through a full range of motion, you’re getting better muscular quality. You’re going to get better blood flow. You’re going to get injured less. And tissue quality is going to be improved overall.
I think it’s very important, especially for injury prevention.
Stretching alone will not get you a 40+ inch vertical but it will support you on your way there.
6) If you had to give just one tip to help people increase their vertical, what would it be?
I would say: Get strong, get quick, get coordinated.
I suppose that’s 3 tips but a lot of people are going to get focused on… “Oh I heard you need to be super flexible.” or “I’m going to do this split.” or “I’m only going to do squats.”
Get strong in the right joint angle, do plyometrics for the same joint angle, and get your technique proper.
I know that’s over simplified, but do the big things.
Don’t just focus on things like getting strong toes or I’ve seen articles where they say it’s all about your feet. It’s not. And if do that you’re going to be disappointed.
7) If someone regularly weight trains, will having a lot of lower body muscle mass increase or decrease their vertical?
Well if you train properly, you’re building functional muscle mass.
So for every pound of muscle you put on, you’re that much stronger. So that extra weight is giving you more horse power. For example if I gave you an 8 cylinder instead of a 6 cylinder car..you’ve got 2 more cylinders. And this weighs more but it gives you a whole lot more power.
If you’re training improperly, you’re just getting non-functional muscle mass and that’s just slowing you down.
8) Any last tips for helping people boost their vertical, what they should focus on, and what they should avoid?
Avoid extremely high reps, avoid training to fatigue, avoid spending too much time on only diet or only supplementation or only feet.
Work on the big rocks. Move the big things. And get that going on and you’ll see a lot better results.
So I hope that helps. Obviously I’m trying to give you as much as I can here in a quick interview…but hope that helps.
I hope you guys enjoyed the interview and if you want to find out more about Jacob Hiller and build a 40+ inch vertical, then be sure to check out his program The Jump Manual.
What do you think of Jacob Hiller and his approach on how to increase vertical jump? Let me know down in the comments.