Training the upper body is critical for improving one’s vertical jump and, overall “explosivity” (not a word, but you know what I mean).

Yet, over 90% of female athletes who step into my training room for the first time have either never attempted a pull up and most certainly, pull ups are not a part of their training regimen.

Here is relevant data for you to consider.

Years ago when I first jump trained a team of volleyball players that I was coaching, a portion of the girls asked not to train the upper body.  They reasoned that when someone jumps, it involves just the legs.  It was clear they did not feel comfortable doing upper body training and that they were not going to attend training on the days we focused on developing the upper body.

Well, at the end of 16 weeks, we concluded training and did the final measurements.  This was the moment I was blown away by how much jump training improved everyone’s vertical jump.  I also noticed one other data point pertaining to the athletes who were only training legs.

I expected the athletes who only trained the legs to be slightly less than the athletes who trained both upper body and legs.  I was very wrong!

The athletes who did not train the upper body gained, on average, only half the inches compared with the girls who trained their upper body and legs!

This implied to me, at the time, that the upper body was just as important to train as were the legs.  However, this too was not the whole picture of why they were jumping higher.  Over the subsequent years I learned why the kids who only trained legs gained merely half that of what the kids training the upper body and legs had gained.  Remember, this was a good number of players measured for 16 weeks of training.  In addition, this team that I first jump trained went on to become the #1 blocking high school team in the state (Oregon, 2008 – MaxPreps).

The key lesson I later learned, after years of training and coaching since that first time, was it wasn’t about targeting the upper body or the legs, so much as it was about training to jump with the whole body.

So what is stopping you from training the upper body?  Fear?  Uncertainty?  Hard work?

Here is a video I took last night of an athlete attempting a pullup.  She fails, but less than an hour later she tries again and succeeds!

1st attempt

2nd attempt

So much of training involves failure, resolve and hard work.  The 2 videos above show how much progress can be made in a short time with a pocketful of resolve.  So again I ask, what is one element holding back female athletes from improving significantly faster?  What, is stopping female athletes from aggressively training the whole body?

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