My Quest For a Slam Dunk – And My Review of Vert Shock
In the summer of 2019, I found myself in the middle of another fitness challenge. I had taken some time off of strength training and my dad and I were looking for something we could do together, with his goal being to get more explosive for his upcoming hockey tournament. My goal, well, I didn’t actually have one at the time. At 64 years old, my dad still has the competitive drive of a teenager and isn’t afraid to put in the work, either. I came up with the crazy idea of attempting to train for a slam dunk at only 5 foot 8, so I guess the explosive-type training could benefit the both of us.
At the time I decided to start this challenge, my vertical was awful. I was still about 7 inches away from touching the 10 foot rim, and miles away from dunking a basketball. Before you get too excited, after my eight weeks of training, I did not accomplish what I set out to do. I knew it would take a lot more training than 8 weeks for a guy my size to even come close, which is why I am actually revisiting this challenge right now. But more on that next time.
After scouring the internet for vertical jump resources, I came across several free and paid programs that promised to improve your vertical anywhere from 3-15 inches in a short period of time. After much debate, I settled on Vert Shock, by Adam Folker. First off, let me say that the website can come across a bit gimmicky, but don’t let that fool you – I do believe it is a well designed program. At roughly $100, it was a small price to pay if it would get me to commit to an 8 week program that could benefit both my father and I.
The Vert Shock program is essentially a group of plyometric exercises with some sprinting and core work mixed into it, spread out over 3 phases lasting a total of 8 weeks. If you do decide to sign up for such a program, be prepared to do a lot of jumping. And I mean a lot. You are looking at 5-6 days a week and although the program is designed in such a way to give you some time to recover, you will still feel those aches and pains in your legs. It probably didn’t help that I had a basketball net in my driveway and I would frequently try to throw down dunks at increasingly higher net heights, landing time and time again on the pavement, not giving myself the proper amount of recovery time. But I just couldn’t resist. The program is perfect if you don’t have access to a gym, because all you really need is a plyo box (see how I made mine here: https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-make-a-plyometric-box/ ).
I noticed results fast. Within a week or so of starting this program, I was jumping 2-3 inches higher. I can’t say for sure if it is the specific combination of exercises and volume I was doing, or if it was the fact that I went from rarely jumping to jumping all of the time, but I feel confident saying it was a good mix of both. The exercises introduced in week one are the same exercises you will be doing in weeks 2-8, just in different amounts/frequencies. I noticed big differences in the box heights I was using from when I started to when I finished and managed only to bang my shin once in the process.
By the end of my 8 weeks, I was jumping considerably higher. And I mean in the 7-8 inch range higher on average. I was still several inches off of dunking a basketball on a full height net, but I was jumping higher than I ever had before by a landslide. Friends would notice when we were messing around with a basketball outside, and I can say for certain nobody has ever complimented my jumping skills in the past. The actual training program certainly did contribute to the majority of the gains, but the other factor to keep in mind is that jumping is a skill and requires very good technique, as well. I practiced my approach to the rim hundreds of times to nail the timing and technique, and I would notice at least a two inch difference when I finally figured that part out.
If you are serious about improving your vertical and have the time to train 5-6 days per week, Vert Shock is definitely worth a try. In my opinion, the one thing missing from this program is a good strength training component (which I have added into my own version of a jump program here), as there is considerable benefit in adding some big compound movements to your vertical training regimen. I did also purchase the Complex Training Techniques by Adam Folker as well, and it does address these concerns. It factors in a less frequent jump schedule paired with some lower body strength training. I worked on this supplementary program for a few weeks after the initial 8 weeks until a few overuse injuries derailed that momentum.
While Vert Shock isn’t the only program out there, it is the only one I actually tried and completed in its entirety, so I can say with confidence that it will definitely help the average athlete improve their vertical fast. For advanced athletes, or those who have already primed their legs with a boat load of jump work, I would recommend a slightly different training approach which I will elaborate on in the near future.
Have you completed Vert Shock or any other jump programs? Share your thoughts below!