Table of Content
- 1 Why Air Alert?
- 2 Initial Impressions
- 3 What is Air Alert?
- 4 What Do You Get With The Program?
- 5 The Science Behind It (and Why It Doesn’t Work)
- 6 The Workouts
- 7 The Exercises
- 8 Air Alert Pros & Cons
- 9 Can You Achieve Results with Air Alert?
- 10 Air Alert Alternatives
- 11 Summary
If you’ve been searching online for ways to increase your vertical jump, you undoubtedly came across Air Alert being mentioned more than a few times.
In this review I’m going to talk about this program, why it DOESN’T work, and why you should stay as far away from it as you can.
I’ll explain to you the false logic behind it and point out the problems with this program.
Stick around, if you really want to add 10-15 inches to your vertical and rock the rim with some vicious dunks – this is something you won’t want to miss!
Here we go.
Why Air Alert?
Air Alert is the grandfather of all vertical jump programs, going back to even before vertical jump training was a thing outside of pro sports circles.
When it first came out in the 90’s, Air Alert became popular because it offered everyday basketball athletes a laid out plan on how to increase their vertical.
Since there was absolutely no competition at the time, Air Alert got spread very quickly and was bought and used by millions of aspiring ballers from all around the globe.
The problem was, it didn’t follow any sound jump science whatsoever!
That’s why, seeing as Air Alert is still available for purchase online, I thought it was important to make a review that explains why no one should use it.
Usually I reserve my judgment until the end of a review, but this time I felt it was important to tell people upfront that Air Alert will not help you increase your explosiveness, and it can even lead to serious injuries and knee problems.
I went through the program from start-to-finish in order to give you a complete picture of what it’s all about and why, in my opinion, you should stay as far away from it as you can.
Back when I first stumbled upon Air Alert as a young teenager, Air Alert 2 was the one that was most popular. Currently, the one on sale is Air Alert 4, but the program hasn’t changed much throughout the years.
As you go through the website, there really isn’t much information – no blog posts, no science behind the exercises, just some promises and a bit of an overview of what to expect.
What really surprised me is the fact that Air Alert was endorsed by two former NBA players, Baron Davis and Larry Hughes. It’s not clear if they really used the program, but I’m all but certain it’s not how they trained while playing in the NBA, as it would be hard to imagine doing thousands of repetitions of exercises while playing professionally.
What is Air Alert?
Air Alert was first introduced to the market in 1991, back in the days when jumpsoles were still a thing. It was created and developed by Timur Tukel who has, since then, expanded it into four editions. He now sells the program along with Court Controller Dribbling Masks, which are supposed to help you improve your ball handling.
The program promises to add at least 8 inches to your vertical over the course of 15 weeks, but as you start analyzing the fundamental aspects of it, you quickly see that there’s very little chance that Air Alert will be able to deliver on its promises.
What Do You Get With The Program?
When buying Air Alert, you get an instructional DVD that explains the core exercises, a training manual that underlines the principles of the program, and a workout chart.
What immediately sticks out is the sheer number of repetitions you will be doing. Already on the first week, you’ll be doing 270 jumps during every workout. That’s a number you’ll rarely have to do in other programs.
And when you glance at the last weeks of Air Alert’s workout chart, you see the numbers increase to thousands of repetitions. In other words, when doing Air Alert you’ll be jumping so much that you’ll likely have a difficult time walking afterward, not to mention playing any actual basketball.
The Science Behind It (and Why It Doesn’t Work)
The main problem with Air Alert is that it trains for endurance, not explosiveness!
The core concept of the program revolves around “habitual jump training“, which basically means that the more accustomed to jumping your legs become, the more force they’ll be able to generate, thus making you jump higher.
This is also referred to as the “kangaroo effect” which supposedly makes your jumping more instinctual by developing a behavioral pattern which allows you to effortlessly jump higher.
Makes sense, right?
But here’s the thing..
There is no scientific basis for this approach!
In fact, recent jump training science has made it clear that aiming for increased resistance is far more effective than increasing the repetitions.
Anytime you’re doing more than 12-15 reps of an exercise, your muscles are being trained in a sub-maximal level and are conditioned to do the same exercise for longer periods of time.
As a consequence, your vertical might even decrease since your muscles are trained to conserve energy when doing the jump movements.
There’s more bad news for you though…
The bigger danger is that the crazy repetition numbers can contribute or lead to some serious injuries.
There are so many cases of athletes around the world reporting problems such as jumper’s knee or shin splints (not to mention various ligament injuries) after using Air Alert.
Watch this video of coach Jacob Hiller, someone I really appreciate when it comes to vertical jump training, and see what he has to say about habitual jump training.
Can you guess which program he was talking about?
The program remains pretty much the same throughout the whole 15 weeks – you do the same workouts three times a week – with the only difference being the gradually increasing number of reps each week.
While the exercises are the same on each workout, there are small variations in the number of sets and reps, depending on whether it’s an odd week or an even week.
You do the odd week (1, 3, 5 etc.) workouts on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the even week (2, 4, 6 etc.) on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
It’s hard to find any logic behind this approach – one week you’re training somewhat evenly, with an off day in between the workouts, while the next week you get a super-intense three-day straight schedule that leaves you completely drained and in high risk of injury.
Other than that, there’s not much variation to the program. You get week 8 (or week 13 if you’re using Air Alert 3) off for recovery, but then just resume the program with a number of sets and reps higher than ever before, climbing to 2,500+ reps per workout (!!!) towards the end of the program.
If your knees start to hurt just from thinking about doing that many jumps, you’re not alone.
The whole program is based on 6 exercises that utilize your body weight for achieving results:
- Leap Ups
- Calf Raises
- Step Ups
- Thrust Ups
- Squat Hops
According to the program’s creator, “the 6 unique jumping training exercises are specifically designed to attack your legs at different angles, isolating the muscles designed especially for jumping”.
The exercises revolve around the aforementioned “habitual jump training” concept. It supposedly makes your legs so accustomed to performing jump movements that it becomes effortless, thus making you jump higher.
However, there’s an abundance of scientific data that specifically shows this to be completely false.
In fact, this is exactly what you should NOT do.
Here’s a video that explains why:
Ask any professional trainer how to improve your vertical jump and they’ll tell you –
Strength x Quickness = Explosion
Your vertical jump height depends on how much force (strength) you generate and how quickly you are able to produce that force.
You gain muscle strength by doing weight-training exercises such as squats and deadlifts on your near-max capacity, and you develop quickness by doing fast max-effort plyometric exercises.
Both of these types of workouts rarely use exercises that go beyond 10-15 reps because the muscles are simply incapable of performing more reps at their maximum capacity.
Therefore, when Air Alert asks you to do a hundred thrust-ups or 300 burnouts, know that it’s not going to do a lot for your vertical because you’re training your muscular endurance, not your jumping explosion.
Also, the exercises in the program are not very unique, even though Air Alert says they are. Essentially, these are all variations of plyometric or bodyweight exercises that have been used for decades. The only difference is that you do them in very high numbers, which is really not the way to go when training your vertical leap.
As you might have already guessed, this approach doesn’t get much results. A sprinter wouldn’t train for the 100 meter dash by running a marathon, since that wouldn’t help his speed, only endurance.
In fact, it would hurt his chances of running fast, as his muscles would start to conserve energy during his runs.
So when you’re doing hundreds of repetitions of jumping exercises, you’re basically training to improve your jumping endurance, effectively causing your muscles to go into energy-conservation mode.
The result is – instead of using all the power you have in your legs, you end up using only part of it because your muscles were taught to jump this way.
This is where the biggest shortcoming of Air Alert lies – the core principle behind the program is simply wrong, even if the plyometric exercises could be effective otherwise.
A good example of a plyometrics based training program is Vert Shock, which has helped thousands of athletes around the world realize their dream of dunking.
Air Alert Pros & Cons
It’s difficult to find any real pros to a program as outdated and limited as Air Alert, but since this is a review, I decided it’s important to clearly lay out what the program brings to the table.
- Relatively Cheap
If there’s one thing going for Air Alert, it is its price. You can get it for as little as 7 bucks. Heck, you can even get it for free, just google “Air Alert” and it will come up with dozens of sites where you can download a PDF containing all of the workouts.
If you’re going to base your decision solely on price, then this might seem like a good option. The problem is, you’re not likely to see much improvement and you’re probably better off using free information available online if you’re not looking to invest into a vertical jump program.
- Improves Endurance
While it’s a strange benefit to include for a vertical jump program, the high number of exercise repetitions does make for a good cardiovascular workout. You might not increase your vertical by a lot, but at least you’ll become more fit.
- Potentially Dangerous
It can’t be emphasized enough just how much damage this program can do to people of all ages. Many users have been left with the knees of a 50-year-old because of overtraining and wear caused by the program.
Apart from the fact that you’re likely to end up with a jumper’s knee and/or shin splints, you also run a significant risk of suffering from serious ligament and joint injuries that can even end your playing days.
- Outdated Science
Since the program was released back in 1991, we’ve seen a revolution in the field of vertical jump training that allowed science to help us understand how to maximize the efficiency of our workouts. Now we know that overtraining doesn’t have any benefit to explosiveness, and you can achieve great results without having to completely wear yourself out.
Vert Shock, a program developed by pro player Adam Folker, is a great example of a plyometrics-based program that brings results without overtraining.
- Not Suitable for In-Season
Due to the crazy amount of workload, it’s quite obvious that anyone looking to do this program will have a difficult time training and playing during the season. As the number of reps in each workout starts to pile up, you’re going to have a difficult time recovering just to do the next workout, not to mention doing any other physical activity.
- Much Hype, Little Substance
The program kind of feels like a relic from the 90’s, not just because of the way the info is presented. There’s little scientific data, the whole training process is grossly oversimplified, and there’s really no explanation or reasoning behind the specific exercises or the number of reps.
Big promises that are not backed up by any real references almost make Air Alert to be nothing more than a marketing stunt.
Can You Achieve Results with Air Alert?
While I have made it abundantly clear that I in no way recommend using Air Alert, it has to be said that the program has been somewhat effective to at least a few folks that have tried it.
There have been people reporting gains of a few inches, as well as general increased athleticism after using it.
However, even those that were able to see results usually gained no more than 3-4 inches to their vertical, and that’s after weeks of rigorous training. When you think about it, that’s a really small reward for so much work.
So, can the program be effective for you?
The short answer is sort of, but only if you are a beginner and have done no vertical jump training in your life.
Your muscles will benefit from almost anything if they haven’t been trained before, and thus you will likely experience some gains as you go through the first weeks of the program. However, after 2-4 weeks you are likely to hit a plateau because the exercises will no longer be challenging for your muscles.
At the same time, you will be risking serious injury to your knees and tendons due to overtraining.
In other words, even if you do see any results from the program, they will not be significant, and you still run the risk of suffering from issues that could hurt your performance altogether.
Air Alert Alternatives
Since Air Alert is obviously not a good option for training your vertical, I’ll share with you a few programs which I think are:
1. Vert Shock
Created by Adam Folker and Justin “Jus Fly” Darlington, Vert Shock is currently the hottest jump training program on the market. It utilizes new plyometric training techniques to help you achieve great results in just 8 weeks of training.
The best part is, you don‘t need any equipment or a gym to do the exercises – they can be done in the park or even in your garage. The workouts rarely take longer than an hour, and the lower workload means it can easily be fitted into your schedule during the season.
Vert Shock has helped thousands of athletes jump higher and is a great choice if you’re looking for a low-cost high-impact program for increasing your vertical jump, but don‘t have much time or access to a gym. You can find my review of the program below.
2. The Jump Manual
Before Vert Shock came out, the (hands down) best product on vertical jump training was Jacob Hiller‘s Jump Manual. Released in 2007, it completely changed the way people approached vertical leap training – information that was previously available exclusively to pro athletes was now boiled down to an e-course that could be done by anyone.
While it does take commitment and some gym equipment for weight training, this program covers all the bases when it comes to vertical jumping.
If you have enough time and access to a gym, this program is the way to go. You can read my in-depth analysis of The Jump Manual below.
Recently, some people have achieved pretty good results with BoingVert, a program created by renowned training expert Shawn Myzska.
And while the basic science and information in it is solid, BoingVert feels a bit unpolished and scattered, and falls short behind both Vert Shock and The Jump Manual.
If you’d like to find out more about it, checkout my BoingVert review.
Air Alert has been around for a long time and might be the most-known vertical jump training book ever. But in today’s world, there’s really no excuse for doing such an outdated and downright dangerous program, especially when you have safer and much more effective dunk training programs.
The program won’t help you achieve any real results, and has the potential of leaving your knees in a much worse shape than they were before.
So, while Air Alert still seems to be making sales even today, it’s now clearer than ever that its place in vertical jump training history will be alongside many of the 90’s basketball fads that were driven by marketing efforts instead of actual tangible results.