Jump like Superman

Obstacle Race Magazine Interview with Michael Cohen
Obstacle Race Magazine

Jump Like Superman

By Michael Cohen

Issue 6 Nov/Dec 2014

In this article Coach Michael of TEAM Wild Forest Gym and now Head Coach to our national OCR Team UK, enlightens us on the importance of jump techniques in your racing and how to preserve your quads from getting so blasted when racing hard!

Welcome to Jump School.

When you consider how many natural and man-made obstacles include jumping up…down…over…across, then it doesn’t take much to realise the importance as to why at TEAM Wild Forest Gym we classify jumping as the 2nd most important skill after running.

So the last thing you want is to pump the quads, no more than necessary, when it comes to jumping trenches, ditches and obstacles.

So here at Jump School we are going to teach you how you can reduce the impact to the legs and in particular the quads; launch your jumps like superman and land like a ninja.

Jump School Techniques

In this edition of Jump School we are going to focus on the Tuck Jump, which is a double footed vertical jump that will lay good foundation to more advanced jumps such as trench jumps and stationary jumps.

Pre-Exercise – Warm up jog for 10 mins & dynamic stretches.

Exercise 1 – Precision Jump

This exercise will help you to understand your centre of balance, your posture and your basic jumping technique.

Place a small straight branch/ruler or book on the ground in front of you. Place your feet so they are both roughly 2” behind it. Elongate your spine from the crown (see ORM edition 3, How to run faster). Looking forward do 10 small jumps on the spot. Then check whether your feet are still the same distance from the branch. If you find your feet ending up closer or further away then you will need to adjust the angle in your ankles, rather than from your hips.

Note if you feel like the jumps in between the 1st and the last one you are jumping forward and back, try to stop this from happening when you do the next set of jumps. Before you do the next set do the ‘Stop Technique’ Repeat 7-8 times. This will also serve as a warm up for your legs.

Exercise 2 – Tuck jump

You are now going to perform a Tuck Jump, which is a vertical high knees jump where you land on the same spot as you take off. The object is to get your knees as high as possible.

Before doing the next exercise remove the branch/book/ruler. Then do the ‘Stop Technique’ then repeat about 8-10 times.

Note the following points for all exercises.

Knee bend on landing – Be aware that when you land you should land into bent knees but no more than 90 degrees, otherwise you risk an injury to your knees. Secondly your feet should be under your hips or just slightly further apart. Stay in the low position for the count of 2 seconds, so that you can evaluate how solid your landing feels.

Awareness of foot landing – You need to be aware of whether you are landing on your toes, heel or balls of your feet followed by your heals. It should be the latter as landing on your toes can mean doing a face plant, whereas landing on your heals could mean being flat on your back. Particularly if the ground below you was muddy, boggy and slippery just like on an OCR race course.

If you are not landing on the balls followed by your heals, then it is likely that you are not jumping straight in the air so you need to go back to Exercise 1 to practice your precision jump. Other reasons why you are landing on your toes is if you are bending at the hips rather than being tall, or you are looking down rather than ahead as the your head may be off setting your balance.

Exercise 3 – Winding up the jump

When doing a Tuck jump or in fact any jump it is important that we go down by bending the knees before launching upwards. However, there is more to this than just bending the knees. We call it winding up the jump like winding up a spring, so that when you launch your jump, you spring up and launch off the balls of your feet.

  1. Start by swinging your arms down as you squat down so that you knees are approx 90 degrees, then straighten up. Practice this a few times making sure that it is rhythmic rather than jagged movements.
  2. This time you are going to do the Tuck jump so that you will explode upwards from the balls of your feet into a high knees tuck jump. Now you should have much higher knees.

Before doing the next rep do the ‘Stop Technique’ then repeat about 8-10 times.

ORM_Exercise_4.1_crop ORM_Exercise_4.2_crop
ORM_Exercise_4.3_crop ORM_Exercise_4.4_crop

Exercise 4 – Arm swing

Now that you are winding up the jump you need to bring the arms into play. The following instructions indicate how your arms move and where they should be at each stage of the jump.

  1. As you wind up the jump you bring your arms down and slightly backwards.
  2. When you explode up into the tuck jump you are now going to explode the arms upwards like superman. So they are now high above your head and slightly forward. Now simulate the arm movement from the point of winding up the jump and swing your arms up to superman as you stand up.
  3. By this point you are in the middle of the jump and as soon as your arms hit the high point of the superman you need to quickly bend your elbows and drive them back as far as possible.
  4. Before you land on the ground, having swung your elbows back, they should now naturally pendulum forward, so that when you land your arms should be out in front to counterbalance your backside sticking out. Make sure your arms although out front are relaxed and can be reactive to the next action i.e. another jump or a sprint run.
  5. Now practice the arm movement without the jump. 1. Wind up the jump bringing your arms down. 2. As you rise onto your toes your arms should be going up into superman. 3. As soon as they are in superman bring them back down and back. And as you finish with bent knees your arms should be out front.
  6. Now practice the full arm movement with the tuck jump.


Exercise 5 – Landing like a ninja

Are you landing like a rhino or are you as quiet as a ninja. This is the key to you reducing impact and burning of your quads.

The art to landing like a ninja and saving your quads is to make sure that when you land you are already into your knee bend. For a moment I just want you to feel like your legs are like shock absorbers. Practice the tuck jump and make sure that you start the landing springs before you physically land your feet on the ground.

Post-Exercise – Cool down jog for 10 mins & stretches.


Jump school Part 2 to come! If you can’t wait and you want to attend a Jump School Training Session with Coach Michael visit http://wildforestgym.com

Stop Technique

Elongate the spine from the crown. Relax the shoulders, arms and hands. Breathe, clear your mind.

FREE ORM Jump School Masterclass

Win a FREE ORM Jump School Masterclass with Coach Michael by entering the FREE draw by visiting http://bit.ly/ORMJUMP.

Please comment or ask a question below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s