Movement Highlight: The Broad Jump

By on April 26, 2021

When it comes to jumping as a form of training and monitoring progress, a lot of focus is placed on vertical jumping. Vertical jump height is considered an excellent indicator of overall athleticism and explosiveness, and exercises like the box jump are perfect for building powerful legs.

Jump Height

But there is another way: horizontal jumping. Specifically, I’m talking about the broad jump. This is a brilliant tool for training explosive, athletic performance. It has a ton of advantages you don’t get with vertical jumping, and I believe it belongs in many a functional training program.

Here’s what you need to know.

See also: Functional Training and Beyond

How to Perform the Broad Jump

To  perform a broad jump, you first drop into a shallow squat position, as you would for a countermovement jump. The difference is that you will have more of a forward lean, hinging at the hips. Your back should be straight and you should be looking straight forward. Many people will also bring their arms back behind them.

See also: What is High Intensity Functional Training?

From here, you will then spring up off your feet, straighten your torso, and swing both arms forward as you do. The aim is to jump as far forward as you can, before landing safely on both feet. Be sure to absorb any impact through the legs. This movement will involve leaning forward onto the balls of the feet as you extend.

Broad Jump

You can then either take three hops back to start again, or turn around and jump back to where you came from. Make sure to keep the amortization phase brief (the static point at the bottom of the squat) as this will ensure no energy is lost and you can make the most of the stretch-shortening cycle.

Why The Broad Jump is Awesome

So, what is it about this movement that makes it so awesome?

The first thing I love about the broad jump, is that it involves the hips more than a vertical jump (study). The difference isn’t huge, but you do feel it and the mechanics are a little closer to a hip hinge (knee involvement is significantly lower). The reason this is a good thing, is that hip hinge movements are relatively harder to come by and certainly harder to train with bodyweight. If you aren’t confident in the kettlebell swing and if you don’t have access to a heavy barbell for deadlifts, the broad jump may be a useful addition to your training. The broad jump is great for developing powerful glutes which, remember, are the number one “anti-gravity” muscles in your body.

See also: An Easy Functional Training Workout for Beginners

Moreover, the broad jump also involves the ankles, and thus calves, to a greater degree.

The horizontal nature of the broad jump also makes it biomechanically more similar to sprinting.

Broad Jumps for All-Round Athleticism

The horizontal nature of the broad jump also makes it biomechanically more similar to sprinting. That, in turn, makes it an excellent tool for developing running power. It should come as no surprise to learn that the broad jump is widely used by everyone from the NFL to track and field athletes.

Sprinting uphill

Even landing from the broad jump is useful, as it involves an element of deceleration – absorbing a horizontal force. This is important for athletes that need to rapidly change direction or come to a stop during their sport.

See also: Hill Sprint Benefits for Athletic Performance (Sprinting, Jumping, Kicking)

Finally, jumping forward is useful in itself. Sometimes you need to jump over stuff. Usually, you want to jump toward something rather than straight up and back down. So, we can practice this.

Broad Jump Tips and Variations

There are a few things you can do to make the broad jump more challenging, or to get quicker results.

See also: Five Kettlebell Exercises to Jump Higher – At-Home Athleticism!

The first tip is to make sure you are measuring progress. That which is measured improves, and all that! Thankfully, this is easy to do: simply use a cone or a marker to show your starting point and then another to show where you land. You can then try and exceed your distance in the very next rep, or you can measure the distance to see your progress over time.

Weighted Broad Jump

A fun variation, meanwhile, is to perform the movement with a medicine ball. Simply hold the medicine ball in both hands, bring it down between the legs, and then swing it upwards as you launch forward. This adds a little resistance and effectively turns it into something like a plyometric kettlebell swing. Of course, you can also perform this movement with a weighted vest.

Another fun variation is to practice precision landings. This is an easy way for traceurs to practice their precisions: just place a towel or something similar on the floor and try to land on it as perfectly as possible. You can then change the distance or shape of the target to vary the challenge. This is a challenge that trains explosive power AND proprioception/balance all at once.

See also: The Parkour Workout: Strength and Agility for Free Running

If you are confident, you can even try single-leg broad jumps. This even more closely mimics running/jumping from a run, and requires additional stabilization and even more power generation. This is an advanced movement, however, and should be closely monitored. Important here is to avoid valgus knees or twisting the ankle.

So yeah… it’s time to add some “horizontals” to your jump training!

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

One Comment

  1. Wesley Chisler says:

    Got inspired to add broad jumps into my routine from your parkour training post. I superset it with bounding jumps over 50m. Great way to prime the legs for a leg day workout.

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