Hero Training: The Leaping Ability Workout

by A Manly Guest Contributor on May 5, 2011 · 19 comments

in Fitness, Health & Sports

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Chad Howse. For this series on hero training, every other week Chad will give Art of Manliness readers a workout based on building the strength and fitness needed to tackle a heroic task. Even if you never have to step in to save the day, it’s just a fun way to focus on functional fitness and motivate yourself to get in shape.

The “Hero Training” series is about building a well-rounded set of skills that could come in handy if, heaven forbid, you’re ever called upon to spring into action and come to somebody’s aid. The byproduct of the challenges is that you’ll get in better shape as well.

We have gone through everything from sprinting to lifting, from carrying a person to safety, to climbing a rope in order to escape from danger. And for this final installment, we’re going to focus on leaping ability (we’ll end the series with a post on how to put all the workouts together).

Leaping ability is all about power and athleticism. The more athletic you are, the better equipped you are to deal with a dangerous situation. This is where simply lifting, carrying, or chasing won’t do. You need to react, to be quick and explosive. You don’t have to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but you should be able to jump up and over obstacles and gaps.

As soon as this skill came to mind I thought of the opening scene of the James Bond movie, Casino Royale. James Bond–Daniel Craig–is chasing a suspected terrorist. Think of that scene when you’re doing the following workout.

Building Power That Lasts

We’ve really been trying to strike a balance between muscular endurance and power with these workouts, and this workout is no different. The vertical leap is about pure, explosive power. The more power you can generate from a stand still position, the higher, or further you’ll be able to leap.

But like each of the previous skills, one-shot power is useless, so we’ll combine a power exercise–in this case hang cleans–with a challenge workout that will focus on the entire body with a higher rep count and minimal rest periods.

We’re also going to add some sprints in at the end of the workout; going into your jump with a fast sprint can help you leap farther. Sprints are great for building explosive power and improving our lung capacity, which not only comes in handy on a daily basis but also with each task we have completed thus far.

The reason we use a lower rep count and a higher rest period with the Hang Cleans is to allow ourselves to push–or lift–what is close to a maximal weight. We’re really focusing on that explosive power with this exercise. For the rest of the workout we’re focusing on explosiveness, but also muscular endurance.

The Workout

Power Exercise

1. Hang Cleans – 4 sets of 5 reps
120 seconds rest in-between each set.

Challenge Workout

Remember that with the challenge workout there are no scheduled rest periods between the exercises. Only take a rest if you need to, and keep it brief before continuing to the next exercise. And time the workout from when you begin the first exercise until you do the last rep of the last exercise.

1. Dumbbell Snatch – 15 reps each arm

2. Bounding – 10 jumps total

3. Jump Squats – 30 reps

4. Alternating Push-up – 30 reps

5. Box Jumps – 50 reps

6. Inverted Row – 30 reps

Sprints (not shown in the video)

40-meter sprints – 5 sprints, 60 seconds rest in-between each sprint

(run at 85% if you haven’t sprinted in a while to avoid injury)

Extra Tips

With each exercise, focus on speed and power on the concentric phase of the lift (the press in a push-up, or the pull in an inverted row), then a slower pace on the eccentric phase of the exercise (the “release” of the exercise).

1. Hang cleans. Start with a light weight, and perfect your form first. Then add weight as your form becomes better.

2. Box Jumps. Spend as little time as possible on the ground. We’re really focusing on fast twitch muscle fibers here. Also, don’t let your heels touch the ground when performing this exercise.

3. Bounding. Lead the movement with your hips out much like a long jumper would do, bringing your feet back under you as you come back in contact with the ground.

4. Jump Squats. Be very careful with this exercise. If you haven’t already mastered good form with the squat, don’t use any weight when performing the jump squat. Instead use your bodyweight to jump as high as possible, using the same rep count.

5. Dumbbell Snatch. Start off with a light weight. This exercise can be tough on the shoulders but it’s an excellent exercise for improving explosive power. Make sure to get in a lower position, keeping your hips down. The goal is to explode with the legs, get under the weight, then complete the lift.

Hero Training Workout Series:
Chase Down a Purse Snatcher Workout
Pulling to Safety Workout
Carry a Person to Safety Workout
Lift an Object Off Someone in Distress Workout
Leaping Ability Workout
Putting It All Together


Chad Howse is the founder of Chad Howse Fitness: a community dedicated to helping guys build a strong body and a strong life. The site focuses on building lean, athletic muscle, but also a range of topics including goal-setting, motivation, improving performance, and various other lifestyle and training content dedicated to helping readers build their best body and best life.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jg May 6, 2011 at 12:12 am

A workout to avoid if you had any prior knee injuries. No sense of ruining your knees even more. However, I can agree with the lifts for someone who has good knees. Too bad I don’t.

2 Josh Smith May 6, 2011 at 10:07 am

Awesome, now I can try harder to be Batman :D

3 Poultry in Motion May 6, 2011 at 11:12 am

Just watching that makes me tired… I agree with jg, if I tried that, my kneecaps would fly off.

4 Chris May 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm

What’s really helped my jumping are box jumps, push presses, and front squat presses (aka thrusters). All very explosive movements. Typically I do them as part of a circuit, with 3-5 sets of 20-30 reps depending on the workout.

5 BoB May 6, 2011 at 3:43 pm

(deneppah tahw teg uoy kniht I ,llew…tub ,llew sa eman ym desrever evah dluow I) hctib ,redrah yrT

6 Matthew May 6, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Good stuff. The best way to build explosive power is deep heavy squatting and deadlifts.Another way is to push or pull something really heavy over s distance from 10-20 yards. It provides triple extension and even though you are not moving the weight fast, your muscles are contracting fast and trying to overcome a heavy weight.

Check out Joe Defranco’s training for some more info on the fast vs. slow debate in terms of being able to generate power.

7 Stephen May 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Great workout. I’m a big fan of functional fitness. How many rounds do you recommend?
Do you have a standard for a time limit/goal?

Just knowing what weight & time for the workouts would be motivational.

PS: I’m no mike burgener but might be important to note full hip extension

8 Chad May 9, 2011 at 2:25 pm

@Stephen – good point, I should have put the weights here. It changes for each person, depending on what kind of shape you’re in, and your weight. I like to fail a few times within each set so I add weight each week. The only exercises here that you need weight for is the hang cleans and the dumbbell snatch – try a light weight for both, then add more as it gets easier.

Cleans: start with 95 lbs. Dumbbell Snacth: start with 30 lbs.

9 TOBY FLENDERSON May 13, 2011 at 9:10 am

Great video demoing the moves. Horrible annoying music.

10 Nathan May 14, 2011 at 9:04 am

Great video with awesome antique-ish looking effects. Your bounds look great and so does your snatch form. I was also impressed with the huge array of kettlebells available at the gym where you’re doing your inverted rows. I wish you much success in the personal training business.

Nathan Visak

11 Stephen May 14, 2011 at 8:52 pm


I’ll give it a go with that weight on monday. Cheers


12 w. adam mandelbaum esq. May 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Oh boy, some orthopedic surgeon is going to love this guy in a few years.

13 Lance Pritchard May 24, 2011 at 10:21 am

Great web site and alot of information on various topics. The The Leaping Ability Workout may not be for everyone, however, there are always options.

14 Kameron June 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Is this Crossfit type stuff?

15 Dragos November 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm

This workout is awesome for legs and more. What I would love to see supplement this workout, is a Climbing strength workout. A hero workout where you are climbing out of danger.

16 Akhil June 4, 2013 at 7:34 am

Great write up !

but tht wasnt bounding !

17 Alec August 6, 2013 at 10:21 am

I am a long time practitioner of parkour and from personal experience the best way to get better at jumping is to jump a lot! If I’m not actually out training parkour I am jumping ALL the time, in my house, up my stairs, down the sidewalk, across the street etc… Anyway plyometrics would do essentially the same thing (although they are kind of boring in my opinion). Not to say that strength training is useless for your legs, but I do feel that it won’t have quite the explosive effects everybody is looking for. The only reason I would strength train my legs like this is to take height drops better. Anyway my suggestion for any aspiring heroes is parkour! I believe AoM has an article on it check it out!

18 Mark Alford August 18, 2013 at 9:12 am

hi, this is my first time commenting, im kinda new. but this workout program, i know it will be very beneficial to my performance. but will it also substitute for hypertrophy training? if not, then would it be ok if for one week, i do this workout program, then the following week, i do hypertrophy training, after that week i continue the program, and then i repeat the cycle through the whole program? thank you.
sincerely, Mark

19 Vince April 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm


how can I replace the exercise with the Med Ball or how I can do it in an alternative way?

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