If you’ve spent any length of time trying to search for ways to increase your vertical jump, you’ve likely come across a unique set of items: Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles.
These products have long been around for quite some time, dating as far back as the 90s, and are still receiving a fair amount of attention today.
However, at face value, they can come off as rather scammy, which begs the question as to whether or not these products are worth buying and using.
One thing is for sure; they each have a relatively unique design that can easily distinguish them not only from each other but from every other leap training product available.
On the topic of vertical jump training, Strength Shoes, and Jumpsoles have been marketed as tools used to train your body and increase your vertical.
This has sparked a decent amount of discussion with regards to just how well they work, and upon finding these items myself, even I started wondering whether they were really more than just a gimmick.
In practically all cases the way to a higher vertical is simply putting in the time and effort into exercising the body, so it’s safe to say that I was a bit skeptical about what some funny-looking footwear could do to make that process better.
If you’re wondering the same thing I was, read on and you’ll see just what Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles are all about and whether they surpass expectations.
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Shoes That Are Made For Jumping Higher
Before we continue, let’s quickly distinguish between the different types of shoes that focus specifically on making you jump higher.
Performance Enhancing Shoes
This type of shoe instantly improves your ability to jump either by increasing the total amount of force you generate while jumping or the speed and which you generate it.
An example of performance-enhancing shoes would be the basketball shoes made by APL (Athletic Propulsion Labs) which incorporate spring technology into the soles to provide a rebounding effect.
Jump Training Shoes
These shoes work much like regular gym equipment in the sense that they help with training and developing the muscles in your body, instead of simply providing a quick boost in vertical height.
Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles fall under this category; their main use is for training purposes, and are not be used for athletic or playing purposes (imagine getting caught running down the court with a pair of these on!).
Now let’s take a look at each product to see how they work.
Visually, they look for the most part as a regular pair of shoes would with an elevated platform attached to the lower front.
Much like standing on the balls of your feet, your heels are kept off the ground and the calves are used to support the body, forcing immense usage of the calf muscles.
They’re also sold alongside a training regimen that gives you specific exercises to perform while using the equipment.
In this way, while you undergo a series of common leap training exercises, the calf muscle is trained, increasing the muscles’ strength and muscle recruitment.
These work much the same way by again forcing you to stand on the balls of the feet, thereby putting pressure on the calf muscles to keep you upright.
The only difference is that they use a rubber platform that can simply be strapped onto any set of sneakers, which doesn’t do much more than changing the aesthetics of the product.
Going down much the same route, they also come with complementary a set of training DVDs that contain leap training workouts that are meant to be completed using the Jumpsoles.
It’s an 8-week training program that uses a series of common plyometric exercises such as box jumps and lateral jumps, with two workouts a week.
The only saving grace seemed to be the promise they make that once you undergo the training, you’ll practically be on par with professional athletes.
However, even that remark seemed to be waning in what was otherwise a pretty bland and dated product.
How Do Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles Work?
Well, we’ve pretty much already covered it; the basic principle behind Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles is that they emphasize the use of your calves by performing a series of exercises while wearing a pair of raised forefoot platforms.
By overloading the calves and the Achilles tendon with the stress of having to support your entire frame, they’re made stronger through use, and this is then supposed to lead to improvements in your jumping ability by increasing both your speed and force.
I’ll get into why this thought process is largely flawed, but looking at the program portion of the two products and the exercises they include, there isn’t anything to distinguish them from the average leap training program.
That’s saying a lot because the exercises, although underemphasized by the creators, are arguably the most important part.
The reason why is because only through consistent use of the exercises could you see some increase in your vertical leap.
In fact, the products themselves serve little purpose as a means of enhancing your training session, and instead the reality as to why they’ve been able to last as long as they have lies in the fact that the exercises themselves do work, albeit the selection and structure is nothing special.
Whether you use Strength Shoes or Jumpsoles, any changes you see in your vertical are largely a direct result of the training sessions you would have otherwise undergone, and this goes true for many who have already used these products.
However, that’s led to the raised forefoot platforms being miscredited as the source of people’s results when in actuality that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Why Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles Do Not Work
You could technically argue in favor of Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles since at face value they do have something going for them.
The approach of reducing the stability of your entire body forces it to activate the stabilizing muscles, which most notably challenges the calves.
Destabilization is actually incorporated in many injury-prevention and rehab protocols to kick the stabilizer muscles into action and is often used alongside balance boards.
So there definitely is some science behind their method, but there’s only one problem; this has very little to do with improving your vertical jump beyond just a few metrics that are barely distinguishable.
Here’s Adam Folker from ThincPRO talking about the Strength shoes:
Let me break it down into three reasons as to why Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles simply don’t work.
1. Calf Training Doesn’t Really Matter
What’s most apparent about Strength Shoes/Jumpsoles is that they don’t really follow basic leap training principles.
When jumping, you undergo a triple extension motion that consists of the ankles, knees, and hips. Most of the force you generate comes from the quadriceps, with the hamstrings and glutes being the two other prime muscles.
From then on you have the calves, abdominals, and all the other muscle groups that come into play, but these secondary muscles are simply not that important.
This is why choosing to build an entire product around emphasizing the calf muscles is an ineffective approach that isn’t even shared with any other method for increasing jump height.
Much the only thing you could even compare are the exercises they bring with that of other leap training programs, and even then you’d be hard-pressed to find any calf exercises.
From Jordan Kilganon’s Bounce Kit to BoingVert, calf exercises are kept at a minimum if not completely ignored.
That isn’t to say that the calf muscles don’t play a role in your leap, they’re simply not that important to warrant stressing over when you have other muscles like the hamstrings and quads that play a more critical role in jumping higher.
Actually, if you just skipped out on using the products altogether and just stick to the exercises, you would probably be a lot better off.
2. Forced Jumping Movements
One of the key principles for effective athletic programs is to use sport-specific movements that imitate the movements you would be performing in-game.
In this way the practice you put into running or jumping a certain way while training is easily transferable to the sport of your choice.
However, with Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles, the feet are forced into a rather uncomfortable position that places all of your body weight on the balls of your feet.
This makes jumping more difficult as you start with an awkward stance and undergo unnatural movements.
Obviously, the only real way of translating this style of jumping is if you were to either maintain your foot in that position throughout an entire game or use the products themselves while playing, both of which don’t sound too great.
If you’re looking to actually become a better athlete while simultaneously improving your vertical leap, then it would only make sense to train under similar conditions with just a regular pair of sneakers.
3. Risk of Incurring Injury
Not only do Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles force you into an unnatural position, but they also amp up the risk of injuring yourself.
When excessive stress is placed on the calves, the Achilles tendon, and the tibia, that entire area becomes more prone to being damaged; this has been backed up by numerous scientific studies.
Considering the whole point of the equipment is to train the calf muscles by shifting all of your weight to the front of your feet, you’re in danger of hurting yourself from the very beginning.
Not to mention that while in this already exposed stance you’re performing a heavy workout session that’s going to tire your muscles and tendons, making them even more susceptible to injury, whether it be shin splints or a tendon tear.
They’re also rather heavy and uncomfortable to wear, adding additional weight to each step.
You could just as easily land incorrectly coming down from a hop or trip due to the instability of the products, which is yet again another intentional feature; and all of this just to train a muscle that isn’t even going to make that big of a difference.
How to Increase Your Vertical Jump
Today, there are tons of options you can choose from to increase your vertical jump, making it so that you don’t need to rely on outdated, expensive, useless, and potentially harmful gimmicks.
Dozens of courses and programs have come to light promising equally great results. At the same time, you also have to be careful with your choice, because not all programs are good.
There are some great ones and some really flawed picks, so it’s important to tell which from which.
In my case, there are two jump training programs that easily stand out from the crowd in the amount of value they provide.
Each one has its own strengths, but they’ll both help with making steady gains on your vertical leap.
The Jump Manual
The Jump Manual can be considered as the grandfather of vertical jump training programs, not only because of its age, being more than a decade old from its original release, but also because of how influential it was to the vertical jump community.
Being the most effective program at the time that provided a clear, science-based approach to improving leap height, it easily revolutionized what was once a pretty small and obscure market.
Naturally, it garnered a strong reputation thanks in part to the number of success stories it conjured.
The sole creator of this program, Jacob Hiller, is an athletic performance coach and professional trainer who has had a lot of experience with coaching various Olympic athletes and even NBA players.
He’s also specialized in helping athletes improve their vertical leap, having spent years studying everything he could find on vertical jump training.
The Jump Manual is essentially a culmination of all the research papers, studies, books, and every other resource he could find on jump training, distilled and nicely packaged into a complete program that covers everything you need to know.
Just from looking at the reading material it offers, the program goes over nine different areas that make up your vertical jump, which includes strength, muscle recruitment, body composition, and more.
The amount of knowledge provided is practically unmatched, and the training regimen is equally impressive, involving both plyometric and weight training exercises.
With that being said, even though The Jump Manual is easily the most comprehensive leap training program you’ll find, not everyone is going to be able to make full use of it.
The reason why is because the program requires a large commitment of your time, energy, and even money, which is definitely a turnoff for many.
You have to structure your time around the program so that you can properly complete each training session and plan out your meals, all while paying for either gym equipment or a gym membership to complete the exercises in their entirety.
So if what you’re aiming for is to push yourself like a pro athlete and completely transform your body, then The Jump Manual is your best bet.
If not, then there’s another program I’d highly recommend.
Vert Shock is a more recent program, having already built a strong reputation within the vertical jump community since its release a few years back.
Its success can be attributed in large part to the program’s simple yet unique method to leap training with its carefully structured plyometric-oriented approach that maximizes the development of your Type 2B “fast-twitch” muscle fibers.
Since the main program solely uses plyometric exercises and doesn’t involve any weight training, neither gym equipment nor access to a gym is necessary, potentially saving you some money.
The workout sessions themselves can be completed in under an hour and aren’t as exhausting, meaning that Vert Shock can be done at any time.
Looking at the creators of Vert Shock, you have Adam Folker, a former professional basketball player, now a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), and Justin “Jus Fly” Darlington, a professional dunker with an insanely high vertical.
Their combined effort is what led to the development of what is so far the fastest proven method for becoming an explosive leaper.
Considering Vert Shock delivers results that are just as good as The Jump Manual while cutting down on the time, energy, and expenditures required to complete it, it’s a better program for the average person.
Of course, the tradeoff is that you don’t receive the extensive background information and knowledge that comes with The Jump Manual.
But out of every other program you can name, whether it BoingVert, Bounce kit, or Air Alert, Vert shock is simply miles ahead of the competition and is completely unrivaled in its efficiency.
There’s no doubt that the desire to jump higher, and for many the ability to dunk a basketball, can make us go to great lengths while in pursuit of that goal.
For that reason alone Strength Shoes and Jumpsoles have managed to maintain some sort of relevance through the decades, despite being useless and potentially harmful gimmicks.
But now that we’ve pulled back the curtain on these training products, one thing is abundantly clear; the products themselves don’t increase leap height, they’re simply the anchor weighing down an already pretty mediocre training regimen.
So if you’re really insistent on increasing your vertical, just know that these products are not the way.
You would get much more out of following a safe and proven leap training program such as Vert Shock or The Jump Manual that not only promises to increase your vertical jump but delivers well on that promise.