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How to POP HIGHER (The only methods & exercises that actually work)

How to increase your pop? Is it even possible? Questions humankind has been pondering since the Egyptians built the pyramids.

How much pop you have is the kind of thing many skaters think is set in stone - something you’re either born with or not. Well I'm here to tell you we've been lied to!

We can totally increase our pop and in this video/article I'll be giving you a bunch of exercises and skate tasks that are guaranteed to increase your pop. Let's get it.

Breaking down the pop

Why am I so sure the stuff I’m about to tell you will increase your pop? Well not only have I used these techniques with different skaters that I train 1on1, but many of the exercises I'll be giving you have been shown in a wide variety of research to increase the physical abilities we need to pop.

So stay consistent with this stuff and it’s going to work, guaranteed!

1 vs 2 legged jumps

Ok let’s start by breaking down what actually goes on when we pop. I did a poll on Instagram asking if you think the pop is more of a 2 leg or 1 leg jump and about half of you said you think it’s more of a 1 legged jump.

At first glance it does seem that way, but get up now and try and jump off one leg. It probably feels weird and slow, and when you think about how fast the board needs to rebound off the floor when we pop, it’s definitely too slow.

So we need a faster method and that’s where the two legged jump comes in.

Ollies, forces & graphs

Ok so let's go deep into what's happening when we ollie by comparing this clip below of Jake Hayes' beast of an ollie to the graph below it that I found from some research where they put pressure sensors in the insoles of skaters. (I would recommend checking the video above where I break all this down visually)

skate graph force curve

The dashed line is the back foot, represented by the green B, the front foot is the dotted line represented by the purple F, and the total force is the black line represented by the pink circle.

skate graph ollie set up

So you can see that as he's rolling up most the weight is on the front leg, which you can see in the screenshot by the way he's leaning a bit over the front.

skate force curve graph ollie set up

Then there's a big drop in force shown in the graph above, as he drops to the bottom and essentially goes weightless for a moment.

skate force curve graph ollie pre pop

As he's catching himself at the bottom he starts to apply force into the ground, which is roughly, evenly spread across each foot, and that increases all the way up to the point where he starts to float up into the air. Both feet are applying increasingly more force into the ground from the bottom to the moment he starts to jump, and It's only at the very last second where the back foot applies more force to actually snap the tail (shown in the picture below).

skate force curve graph ollie pop

The key here is that it isn't a single leg jump off the back foot, it's more of a double leg jump and the back foot only applies more force at the very end of the jump, when you’re almost weightless and the front foot has started to release pressure so the board can rise up.

If you try to pop too early when your weight is keeping the board down, you won’t be able to pop fast enough to get some good height. Popping at the end allows us to snap as fast as possible, essentially bouncing the board off the floor.

Now, as uncle Newton told us - every force you apply into something applies an equal and opposite force back. Simplifying things, this means the more force we send into the ground, the more force the ground sends into us and the higher we jump.

The breakdown doesn’t end here though because there’s something else that actually contributes even more to popping high thant jumping as high as we can…

Max jumps vs knee lifts

I also asked on IG whether you think the majority of pop comes from either how high you jump or how high you lift your knees, and most of you said lifting the knees, which is correct.

I think it’s pretty interesting that someone with insane pop doesn’t actually always jump so high. Here Jake is popping insanely high, but if you check the graph below where we look at how high his hips rise - which is a good measure of actual jump height - it's actually not so high.

ollie hip extension 1

ollie hip extension 2

In comparison to LeBron James in the picture below who’s just straight jumping insanely high. Both jumps are clearly pretty differernt.

ollie lebron james

You can see below in this graph from other research I found that tracked the movement of different body parts - more than double the pop height came from lifting the knees. The science bods in some research on ollie mechanics wrote that skaters have developed “an extra efficient way of raising their centre of mass using the least energy possible”. Which doesn’t just confirm what I've been saying about how we pop, but it also means the cliche that skaters are lazy pieces of shit also applies to how we pop tricks too.

skate ollie limb displacement motion tracking

The solution

Ok so how we get more pop then? Well it's all about combining resistance training exercises and certain skate tasks focused on increasing pop.

This rest of this article is focused on these two areas.

For the exercises, you can add them into your current workout program. If you don't have a workout program or you don't know how to progress these kinds of exercises, check out the NBD Skate Performance program here. It's a complete 12 week program filled with exercises for pop, injury reduction, endurance, confidence and much more.

Resistance training exercises to increase your pop

So starting off we need good movement control that comes from stability, mobility and strength.

(Note that even though I've put these exercises in specific categories, a lot of them overlap into other areas too - e.g. the split squat being good for mobility, stability, strength, etc.)

Mobility exercises for pop

We need mobility at pretty much the whole body to go through a squat and enough hip mobility to lift the knees up. If you’re lacking mobility your body might compensate putting certain joints in less optimal positions for the muscles around them to create force.

When working on mobility most people will benefit from working primarily on the ankle, hips and thoracic spine.

Exercise examples @5:00 in the video
  • Hip rockback

  • 90/90s

  • Full range squat

  • Ankle stepover

  • Fooot raised hip push

Stability exercises for pop

You need to be able to create stability in your whole body as you pop to create as much force as possible.

Imagine trying to jump on a canoe vs on the ground, as soon as you bend down on the canoe, due to its instability, it’s gunna move. This will throw you off balance and your jump will be low and look like shit. If you’re jumping on the ground and say your core, foot or knee aren’t stable, your body won’t be able to control the force efficiently and use it for pop. Over time this can also cause pain and injury from force repetitively getting sent through your body in a way it wasn’t designed to receive.

Not the topic for today but have a think about how loose vs tight trucks might also affect your pop.

Exercise examples @5:20 in the video
  • Short side plank / s

    ide plank

  • Short side plank / side plank with knee raise

  • Front plank

  • Bird dog

  • Pallof press

  • Squat drop catch

  • Hops to stick

  • Bounds

Strength exercises for pop

Now we can't have mobility and stability or create force without strength, so hitting exercises that build muscle and strength at the key joints involved when we pop - ankles, knees, hips, spine.

Don’t think this means you have to get as big as Brandon Biebel. Not only is a massive amount of muscle just not necessary for skating, but a large portion of strength comes from neurological changes, aka your brain getting better at communicating with your muscles and firing a higher percentage of them, along with contracting or relaxing the right ones at the right time.

Exercise examples @5:59 in the video
  • Squats

  • Romanian deadlifts (RDL)

  • Split squats

  • Single leg RDLs

  • Hip thrust (double & single leg)

  • Calf raises (double & single leg)

  • Soleus calf raise (bent knee)

Speed & power exercises for pop

Now skating is fast and popping tricks is fast, so once that baseline level of strength is locked in you ultimately want to be able to express your strength as fast as possible and there are certain exercises we can do here to help us do this.

At the bottom of popping a trick, as your muscles contract to lock you in place, different structures are stretching elastically. As you rebound back up to pop, these elastic structures snap back, contributing to our power and speed. To increase our pop, to skate better, and become more resistant to fatigue, we’ve got to get elastic.

Exercise examples @6:39 in the video
  • Loaded squat jumps

  • RFESS jumps

  • Extensive plyos (double & single leg)

  • Mini bounce to box double & single leg

  • Depth jumps

Hip flexion exercises for pop

Finally, we need to train the strength and endurance of the muscles that flex the hip. For a lot of people that 

If you’re on the ground, but lacking stability and control at your core, your foot, or anywhere else, your ability to pop will be affected.

Exercise examples @7:40 in the video
  • Banded dead bug

  • Standing banded hip flexion

Skate tasks to increase your pop

If you've been following The Daily Push for a while you would have heard me say many times that exercises are great, but you have to do tasks on your board to increase the carryover of what you're working on.

It's no different with pop. For this skate task I want you to get out there and try and pop as high as you can. It doesn't happen too often that people really push it and try and pop at their max height, but it's important if we want to increase our pop.

Now you obviously don't have an inifinite energy tank that allows you to pop at your highest for an unlimited amount of tries. As you fatigue you'll pop lower, but to really work on that max height, we want to be minimally fatigued.

To help with this we're going to slot it into the session in the same way as we would with power exercises - doing them early in the session and with a small number of attempts.

Now I know using the terms reps and sets in skating is a bit cringe, but I'm going to do it because it makes things simpler (a rep is one attempt, and a set is a clump of reps).

So I want you to do this skate task at the start of the session, after your normal warm up, and split it up into 3-4 sets of 5 reps/attempts, with a 2 minute break in between sets.

ollie pop increase reps sets

You can also alternate between sides here doing 5 normal ollies and 5 switch ollies in one set, and if you really don't want to rest between sets just go for some chill tricks that aren't tiring in any way.

I hope all that helps! Stay consistent with this stuff and you'll see an increase in your pop, guaranteed. If you want to check out the NBD Skate Performance program you can here.

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