One of the most common things people ask is what are the exercises for jumping higher. Below is a list of the best exercises you can use in your workout to improve vertical jump ability.
The exercises vary in order to develop the different things needed in increase leaping ability. The including strength, power, explosiveness and force development.
Warm Up and Stretching Exercises
Start out your workout by doing some warm up and stretching exercises. Two exercises that help improve vertical during this part of the workout are jumping rope and the hip flexor stretch.
1. Jump Rope
Jumping rope may sound like something only young kids do, but it helps develop the muscles use for jumping as well as let you start getting a sweat on.
The repeated, rhythmic jumping helps with working your timing, ankle strength and also lets the body get used to the jumping action.
Don’t spend too long on this, all you need is a few minutes to get warmed up.
2. Hip Flexor Stretches
Static stretching is something we don’t recommend people do because it has been shown to decrease performance specially when done before a workout, game or competition.
The static hip flexor stretch however, has its special place for jumping because stretching it out before jumping helps get a better range of motion that results in higher jumps.
Stretching each leg half a minute twice is enough to give you an extra lift when you jump.
Best Exercises to Increase Vertical Jump
1. Box Squats
Back squats have been proven to increase leg strength and limit strength which make them essential in any jump training program.
Another great squat exercise that help improve jumping ability is the box squat. This exercise helps build power and explosiveness. It is also better suited to tall athletes like those standing 6’3” and over since the going down to a full back squat position can be difficult for tall people where they can break their form.
With the box squat, you use a wide stance and sit back on a box positioned behind you. This means that you only go down to slightly below parallel. Once you reach the box, explode up using your hips and hamstrings.
2. Trap Bar Deadlifts
The trap bar deadlift is an exercise that isn’t mentioned as much as the deadlift or the squat. It is however very effective when looking to increase vertical leap height.
Trap bars are specially designed bars that let you lift the weights with your hands on your sides instead of in front like a regular barbell. This exercise provides a great overall body strengthening workout because it works the lower body and incorporates upper body strength as well.
One advantage for athletes is the trap bar’s grip position. Since you hold it on the sides, instead of the front like a barbell, there is less stress on the back and spine.
3. Split Squat
With jumping, it is important to strengthen both legs since there are times when you jump with both legs and at times you need to jump on one leg, like when driving for a layup or dunk.
To train the legs individually, the split squat is an excellent exercise. It is a variation of the squat that uses one leg.
To perform the split squat, grab a couple of dumbbells on each hand or a barbell over your shoulders. Then, position a bench behind you and place one leg on the bench.
Bend the front knee down until the rear knee touches the floor. When it does, explode back up to starting position. The exercises works the thighs, hamstrings and glutes, while improving hip flexor flexibility.
4. Glute Ham Raise
One of the lesser known gym equipment around, the glute ham raise works the posterior chain with a focus on the hamstrings and the glutes. You can also perform this with a training partner if your gym doesn’t have the machine.
Start by kneeling on the floor and have your training partner hold your feet down. From there slowly lower yourself forward. Before starting the exercise get a mat or cushion and kneel on that so the knees won’t be resting right on the floor.
Only go down until where you’re comfortable. When you reach that point, pull yourself back to where your started.
5. Cleans and Snatches
If you’ve had the chance to watch them, Olympic weightlifters are among the most explosive and high jumping athletes around. And two exercises that are responsible for this are the power cleans and power snatches.
These are very explosive movements that use the hips, legs and back. They are also great for improving speed as well as jump.
The problem with these movements is that they are complicated and require proper technique that needs to be taught by someone who knows how.
6. Calf / Toe Raises
Calf or toe raises are among the simplest exercises to do. This exercise serves two purposes:
One is to strengthen the calves which are among the muscles that help us jump higher.
Second, it strengthens the toe muscles. This allows use to push off better from the ground when we’re going to jump.
Start by doing standing toe raises. If you have problems balancing yourself, use one hand to hold on to a wall or chair and slowly let go over time.
Once you’ve gotten stronger, start adding weight. You can use a weight vest, hold on to dumbbells or have a barbell over your shoulders when doing toe raises. The extra weight provides extra resistance to help strengthen the ankle, calf and toe muscles.
7. Ab Training
Training the core helps transfer the power that’s generate from our arm swing to our lower body. In jump training, arm swing plays an important role and can increase you vertical by a few inches when done right.
Having a strong core, by doing weighted crunches and rotational ab exercises help in improving the overall power your lower body can deliver when you jump.
Plyometric Exercises for Jumping Higher
Plyometric exercises complement the other exercises by improving explosiveness and power. They require you to do some sort of explosive jumping drills.
Here are a few of the best plyometric exercises for jumping higher. For a more complete list see our article on plyometrics for basketball players.
1. Depth Jumps
Depth jump help build force as well as reaction. It strengthens the jumping power by making it feel extra force from gravity.
To practice depth jumps, get two boxes of different heights. Make sure that these boxes are strong enough to hold you when you stand on top of them. Also make sure that they won’t move from their place when you land on them.
Position the two boxes with about 2 feet between them and stand on top of the lower box.
From there, step off the box and let gravity do the rest.
Once you land on the ground, immediately jump back up with the goal of landing on top of the taller box.
2. Box Jumps
Box jump challenge you to jump on top of an object. To do this plyometric exercise, get a box and stand in from on it. When we say box, it has to be something very sturdy and stable, so that you can land on it without it breaking or moving away from you.
Performing the box jump entails jumping from a standing position on top of the box, from them slowly come back down.
Start with a box that’s a foot high and slowly work your way up.
3. Vertical Jumps & Reach
If you want to be good at something you have to keep doing it, and jumping is no different. Jumping up with the focus of trying to reach as high as you can helps improve jumping ability.
Just as important is fixing your jump technique. After all training something the wrong way will not help you get better.
This exercise is both training to jump up and also fixing the jumping form, including the arm swing action, the loading of the legs and explosion upwards.
Workouts and More Exercises for Jumping Higher
The exercises above will help anyone add inches to their vertical. Many of them also help build better fitness and strength overall which helps you as an athlete.
One thing to remember is that knowing the exercises does not make a workout. This is why you see some guys who are always at the gym training but never get the results they want. Having a proper workout routine that’s programmed properly is just as, if not more important than the exercises, so putting them together can make the difference between training and getting small results and training and getting big results.
If you’re not sure about how to put the workout or program together or want something that’s proven to get results in jump improvement, we recommend a couple of workouts:
- Vert Shock Training (you don’t need to do weight lifting; it is based on advanced plyometrics)
(for more details see our review here)
- The Jump Manual (an all-around program that uses stretching, weights and plyometrics)
(for more information see our review here)