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Top Exercises To Increase Your Vertical Jump
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Top Exercises to Increase Your Vertical Jump

Nothing, I repeat NOTHING can replace a solid, comprehensive vertical jump program, however I've been asked time and again to provide exercises to increase your vertical leap. After thinking about this a bit, I decided it is important to understand some basic, but extremely effective exercises needed to improve your vertical leap.

The exercises below are exercises I've done in my own jump training to achieve a 41" vertical leap as a young buck and exercises I do today to teach my players how to leap with great success. If you do these exercises 2-4 times a week (NOT EVERYDAY--Overtraining sucks) then you could see results that will definitely encourage you to take your leaping ability to the next level!

First off is the warmup. Much has been made lately about dynamic warmups - and for good reason, this type of warmup has and should take the place of static stretches from now until the end of time. There is much evidence supporting the fact that static stretching offers absolutely no performance increase in athletic performance. Lets leave static stretches to AFTER the workout, where the best value is gained.

This article is not about dynamic warmups (article on that coming soon!), so I won't go into great detail about how to perform them, but you're sure to recognize many of them. Allow yourself 5-10 minutes before EVERY workout to perform any of these:

Push-ups (2x10)

Planks (3x 20 seconds)


Jump rope (2-4 minutes)

Supermans (2x15-20 seconds)

mountain climbers (2x10)

deep knee squat (and hold) for (2x 30 seconds)

High knees

High knee skips

Regular skips


Standing leg swings

Top 5 Exercises. There are dozens of excellent vertical jump exercises to help you increase your vertical leap, however if I were to narrow it down to 5 core exercises, I'd go with the vertical jump exercises below.

These exercises best incorporate the various facets of strength, quickness, and power. The key for all these exercises is to focus on technique and balance. I harp n my players all the time "balance, balance, balance!"

Standing broad jumps:

Stand behind a line or mark with both feet shoulder width apart. Squat to a balanced athletic position, with arms back, then fling your entire body up and forward achieving both height and distance. Remember to focus on balance here. It's also critical that you have a mark that you try to land on and keep pushing that mark back if you hit it! You will never improve unless you push yourself beyond your boundaries.

Split squat jumps:

Start Position: Stand in an athletic position with your feet hip-shoulder length apart, right leg forward, left leg back. Bend both arms with the left arm in front of your body and the right arm behind your body. Lean forward at the hips, keep your weight balanced on your hips and quads. Your shoulder blades should be slightly pulled back with core engaged.

Jump Movement: Quickly lower your body-weight back into your hips then explode off of floor, pushing both feet off the floor and driving your hips forward to propel your body into the air and completely extending your entire body. As you jump into the air, keep your body as balanced as possible

While you are in the air, alternate legs bringing your left leg up and right leg back. Alternate arms bringing your right arm forward and your left arm back.

Landing phase: As you land your left leg should be in front of your body and your right leg back behind your body. The most important pieces of the landing phase are correct and balanced foot position and avoiding excessive forward movement in your lower legs which places additional stress on your knees. Try to land softly (land "like a ninja") and quietly on the mid-foot, quickly rolling toward the heels to in order to level the foot, making it parallel with the floor. push your hips back, and drop your hips to absorb the leaping force. keep your knees "athletic" (not locked) on the landing in order to avoid any knee injuries. Land with your torso aligned slightly forward, head over hips, and keep a flat back. Keep your ab\core muscles engaged, to protect your back.

Dead lifts: Caution! If you are tall and lanky (an ectomorph like me) then you need to start the lift with the bar raised from the ground! I recommend anywhere from 4 to 6 inches. You risk great injury if you dead lift heavy weight full range to the floor! I don't know why I don't see ANYWHERE in articles on the Internet, fitness magazines, etc. that provides this caution. I see hundreds of dead lift demos, videos , etc and have seen not one demo that explains this modification for tall athletes. Dead lifts are an amazing tool to provide strength and power for your vertical jump but can be disastrous to your back if you don't do them properly!

Prepare weighted bar. Place the bar on platform or ground and add weights. Use weight collars!

*note: If you are a first time dead lifter, start with lighter weight. You can add weight as needed. It's more important to get your form down first!

Stance. Approach the bar so that your feet are approximately shoulder width apart, with your mid-foot beneath the bar, and your toes pointing forward.

Bend your knees, squat to the floor, and keep your your back straight so that you are sitting back. Do not allow your knees to go past your toes on the squat.

Grip the bar. You should be close enough to reach the barbell comfortably. Grip the bar with your hands slightly more than shoulder width apart, outside of your legs.

Although you can use any grip you are comfortable with, the mixed grip is most common. Grasp the bar with one palm facing you and the other facing away from you. This will stabilize the bar, as it may roll out of your hands if both palms are facing the same direction, especially if you are a beginner or have a poor grip.

Set your hips and legs. Lower your hips so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep the lower part of your legs mostly vertical. The angle between your foot and your lower leg should be close to 90 degrees.

Straighten your back and look straight ahead, keeping the natural arch of your back.

Lift the bar. Stand up by raising your hips and shoulders at the same rate and maintaining a flat back. Keep your abs tight during the whole lift. Lift the bar straight up vertically and close to your body, thinking of it as pushing the floor away. Come to a standing position with upright posture and your shoulders pulled back. Allow the bar to hang in front of your hips; do not try to lift it any higher.

Lower the bar. Keeping your back straight, return the bar to the starting position in a controlled manner. Pushing your rear out as if you are going to sit down in a chair, and keep your head up.

Pull up bar flex hang (yes pull up bar flex hang):

How does hanging on a pull up bar help my vertical jump? Your core strength is EXTREMELY important and this exercise has kept my core solid and strong for many years. Don't neglect your core!

This one is simple: find a pull up bar, pull yourself up with a "front grab" (hands facing forward) and pull all the way to chin-up position. Hold this position anywhere from 5 seconds to a minute. Do this for 3 to 5 sets. Don't get discouraged if you're not good at this right away!

Standing calve raises: Let's not neglect the calves. The gastrocnemius (calve) muscle is often overrated when it comes to leaping ability, but many vertical jump programs neglect this muscle to the detriment of the athlete.

Performing the standing calf raise

Stand on the edge of a step or stair.

Stand tall with your abdominals pulled in, the balls of your feet firmly planted on the step, and your heels hanging over the edge.

Rest your hands against a wall or a sturdy object for balance.

Raise your heels quickly (but under control) a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on you're tiptoes.

Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels under control below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles. It is important not to bounce up and down while performing this exercise as that will negate the explosion effect from the calves.

These are just a few of the many vertical jump exercises you can do to improve your vertical leap. As I mentioned before, make sure you view this article as a guide towards your journey to unbelievable hops!

Street Talk

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