Advanced Plyometrics: Progress Your Jumps & Build Athleticism

Nov 29, 2022 | Sports Performance, Strength & Conditioning

Side view of athletic woman in sportswear doing a box jump in gym with sun setting in window behind her
Looking for an easy and effective way to build power and athleticism? Progressing simple plyo jumps should be your first stop. Building upon moves such as the squat jump and double leg hop improves your stability, coordination, power production, and ability to absorb force.

Kyle Donsberger is a CSCS, lifelong athlete, and owner of Impulse Athletics. He is a current member of the Canadian Skeleton Team and a 2012 & 2016 Olympic Trials semi-finalist in the 400 meters. In this blog, he guides you through five plyo progressions (with thorough explanations & gifs!) that translate to your performance on the field, court, and everyday life.

Kyle Donsberger
Kyle Donsberger

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Plyometric training is a great tool for building strength and power with little or no equipment. Regularly doing plyos and progressing them over time keeps your bones, joints, and ligaments healthy and functioning like a well-oiled machine. Plus, who doesn’t want to be more powerful!?

If you’re familiar with plyometrics, you probably know how to do a squat jump, double hop, vertical horizontal vertical jump, lateral hop, and single leg hop. These simple (but mighty) moves are super effective in building power, but adding some modifications can really up your game by improving your coordination and dynamic force production.

Important: If you’re new to plyometric training or haven’t heard of these moves before, check out this blog before attempting any progressions: 5 Powerful Plyometric Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

Squat Jump Progressions

1. Squat Jump → Tuck Jump → Box Jump or Hurdle Hop (if you have access)
2. Squat Jump → Multiple Squat Jumps In a Row → Loaded Squat Jump

The first squat jump progression includes a tuck jump. The tuck jump is essentially the same as a squat jump, except you snap your knees to your chest at the peak of the jump.

Man performing squat jump to tuck jump plyometric movement in indoor gym on turf
From there, progress to a box jump or a hurdle hop. I personally like hurdle hops more because they require more coordination to get over the hurdle and absorb the landing. (There’s less to absorb in the box jump because you land on the box, not the ground.)
Hurdle hop agility plyometric jump performed on indoor turf field
Athletic man doing a box jump in gym setting
For the second squat jump progression, perform multiple squat jumps in a row. This requires more coordination than a single squat jump, and it puts your body through more stress as you absorb and transfer force repeatedly.

This progression is especially great for building bone strength and elasticity in tendons. Just make sure to load through your hips with each jump to prevent unwanted stress on your knees and ankles.

Man doing multiple squat jumps in a row on an indoor turf field
After doing multiple squat jumps, try adding a load (like dumbbells). Adding a load introduces your body to a few different adaptations. First, the load itself requires more power. Second, it requires more efficient absorption of force since the load is affected by gravity. Third, holding dumbbells by your thighs requires you to force your knees out, which adds another layer of stability and generates more power.
Man doing loaded squat jump with dumbbells on indoor turf field gym

Double Hop Progressions

1. Double Leg Hop → Vertical Horizontal Vertical
2. Double Leg Hop → 3 Double Leg Hop → 5 Double Leg Hop
3. Double Leg Hop → Depth Drop Double Leg Hop → Depth Drop 3 Double Leg Hop
4. Double Leg Hop → Banded Double Leg Hop → Banded 3 Double Leg Hop

Let’s get into some double leg hop progressions. The first progression starts off with a double hop that progresses to a VHV jump.

The second progression is 3 double leg hop, which is essentially stringing together 3 jumps. Doing multiple jumps adds a layer of coordination and forces you to absorb the landing better (because you need to transfer that energy into two more jumps).

Once you master the 3 double leg hop, add more jumps until you get a 5 double leg hop.

Stringing jumps together correctly is harder than it looks – it gets extremely tiring if you’re putting in max effort (which you should!). For that reason, I recommend stopping at 5 double leg hops. There’s not much benefit after 5 as quality drops when your body is fatigued.

Man doing 3 double leg hops in a row on indoor turf field
Another way to progress the double leg hop is to add a depth drop. A depth drop is essentially just stepping off from a height, which adds yet another layer of complexity and forces you to absorb and transfer force before you even jump.

There are multiple ways to do this movement. I use boxes in the gym, but a bench, a stair, or anything that’s stable with ample landing room works just fine. I usually don’t go above 20 inches because the landing gets a lot tougher at higher depths.

The key to the depth drop is landing and absorbing force in an athletic position. This teaches your body how to transfer power effectively.

Man doing a double leg depth drop from a plyometric box on turf in a gym
The final double leg hop progression is adding a mini band. Because the band forces you to drive your knees out, this is a great way to improve stability.

To do a banded double leg hop, do everything the same as you would in a regular double leg hop with an extra focus on driving out the knees.

If you’re up for a challenge, try adding more jumps together for a banded 3 double leg hop.

Banded double leg hop on indoor turf field in gym with white background

Vertical, Horizontal, Vertical Hop Progression

Vertical Horizontal Vertical (VHV) → VHVHV → VHVHVHV

For this one, all you do is add more jumps. Just make sure you always end with a vertical jump.

It’s crucial to load through the hips so that you’re able to control the direction of force as you fatigue. I don’t recommend progressing past 7 jumps as technique usually starts to break down.

Man doing vertical, horizontal, vertical plyometric exercise jump on indoor turf field

Lateral Hop Progression

Lateral Hop → Hop Lateral → Hop Hop Lateral

Start with a simple lateral hop and then add a small forward hop at the end. This small hop forward is important because you don’t want to hop diagonally.

Once you take that small hop forward, hop straight across to the other side. Take another small forward hop, and hop laterally back the other way.

Man doing hop lateral hop plyometric jump on indoor turf field
Maximize the distance on the lateral hop, not the forward hop. If you jump too far forward, it prevents you from getting into a good position that utilizes the hips for the next lateral hop.

Remember to stabilize through your core and upper body. This prevents any twisting in the shoulders or hips as you jump, which wastes energy and power.

If you’re up for a challenge, give the final lateral hop progression a try. This complex movement pattern further challenges your body to transfer and absorb force.

Start with the lateral hop. As you land on your other leg, hop as far forward as possible and land in an athletic position. Add a small hop forward again before going into the next lateral hop.

Confused? Fair enough. Here’s a visual:

Man doing two consecutive hops followed by lateral jump on indoor turf field
Coach’s Tip: Stabilizing your core and upper body allows you to better absorb force through the hips.

Single Leg Hop Progression

Single Leg Hop (2 foot landing) → Single Leg Hop (1 foot landing) → 3 Single Leg Hop → 5 Single Leg Hop

Remember when you first learned how to do a single leg hop and landed on two legs? Now try landing on just one leg, the take-off leg. This requires a LOT more stability.

Remember to keep your core stable to prevent collapsing at the hip.

Man doing a single leg hop and landing on one foot on indoor turf field with solid white background
Once you’re comfortable landing on one leg, progress to doing multiple single leg hops on the same leg. This requires much more stability to absorb and transfer force.

Make sure you’re loading and landing through your hips. Keep your chest over your toes just like with the double leg hops. When attempting multiple jumps, try to cycle the knee of your free leg for higher power production and stability.

Here’s a look at 3 single leg hops in a row:

Man doing 3 Single Leg Hop on indoor turf field
Plyometrics are wildly underrated in preventing injury and building power in athletes of all ages across all sports. Adults who participate in recreational sports can especially benefit from plyometric training to keep their joints and ligaments healthy.

Add these plyometrics into your weekly workout routine and progress them over time for a more athletic, healthier, and powerful version of yourself.

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